Taking a diagnosis and cure approach to the EU’s difficulties, Simon Hix tackles these problems with distinct clarity and open-mindedness. What the EU needs, Hix contends, is more open political competition. This would promote policy innovation, foster coalitions across the institutions, provide incentives for the media to cover developments in Brussels, and enable citizens to identify who governs in the EU and to take sides in policy debates. The EU is ready for this new challenge. The institutional reforms since the 1980s have transformed the EU into a more competitive polity, and political battles and coalitions are developing inside and between the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission.
This emerging politics should be more central to the Brussels policy process, with clearer coalitions and identifiable winners and losers, at least in the short term. The risks are low because the EU has multiple checks-and-balances. Yet, the potential benefits are high, as more open politics could enable the EU to overcome policy gridlock, rebuild public support, and reduce the democratic deficit. This indispensable book will be of great interest to students of the European politics, scholars, policy makers and anyone concerned with the future of the European Union.
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"Hix's research makes a convincing case that left-right
divisions have deeply penetrated policymaking in the parliament,
the council and the commission. Missing is a contest for political
power and policymaking between rival groups and policies, with
clear winners and losers and a visible link between voting,
leadership and outcome."
"[A] short and highly readable book, which began life as a
series of policy papers written for the UK government."
Ethics and International Affairs
"Simon Hix's analysis is as authoritative as his case for reform
is compelling. Reasoned, rigorous and riveting, this book is a
must-read for all who care about the future of the European
Sir Stephen Wall
"An exceptionally clear and provocative argument in favour of
'limited democratic politics' in the EU, showing precisely how it
could be applied to the 2009 European elections."
Michael Shackleton, Secretariat of the European Parliament
"Simon Hix is among the leading political analysts of the
European Union of his generation. Here he offers a critical yet
balanced analysis of Europe's 'democratic deficit', linked to
pragmatic proposals for reform. Whether one agrees or not, this
slim and readable volume is required reading for anyone seriously
concerned about the constitutional future and political legitimacy
Andrew Moravcsik, Princeton University
List of figures, tables and boxes vi
List of abbreviations xi
1. Introduction 1
2. Why the European Union is more necessary than ever 8
PART I: THE DIAGNOSIS 29
3. Policy gridlock 31
4. Lack of popular legitimacy 50
5. A democratic deficit 67
PART II: THE CURE 87
6. The case for ‘limited democratic politics’ in the EU 89
7. How the EU is ready for limited democratic politics 110
8. Encouraging democratic politics in the EU 137
9. A scenario: the 2009 European Commission President contest 166
10. Conclusion and response to potential critiques 179