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Bouillonstraat UM Blog 3. The EU is increasingly viewed as non-transparent and politically disconnected from the will of its citizens, driving an unprecedented rise in Euroscepticism Miszlivetz, 2. Despite the Lisbon Treaty in that sought to foster democratic accountability in the EU by strengthening the role of the European Parliament, EU policymaking processes continue to be seen as complex and cumbersome, relying heavily on consensus and still lacking transparency Parry, 98; Archick, The deliberative processes in the EU involve democratically unaccountable institutions such as the European Commission and secretive discussions within the European Council, leaving the European Parliament as the only democratically accountable institution in a complex web of institutions Parry, 99; Youngs, 4.

This means that decision-making processes and the knowledge of them can often be exclusive to the European technocrats, but not EU citizens Sorace, 4. Theoretically, it can be argued that the complexity of the EU is part of the policymaking process, designed to be inclusive and effective, allowing for compromises and flexible arrangements to be made with the goal of enabling cooperation between the EU member states Toshkov, Vertical solidarity between the political establishment and its citizens is eroding Ferrera and Burelli, ; Kennett, Existing structures of representative democracy in the EU are called into question as people demand their voices to be heard Flesher Fominaya, Clearly, there is a scalar disconnect between the EU, national governments and their people Kennett, The complex institutional architecture that was meant to foster cooperation is now the target of popular discontent.

This crisis of democracy has led Gill 35 to posit that there needs to be some form of democratic revitalisation and reform in the EU in order to breakthrough this political impasse. This perception of a democratic deficit in the EU has fueled the rise of Eurosceptic parties that polarises EU politics, with severe implications for European integration Archick, ; Miszlivetz, 2.

UKIP has framed itself as an opposition to an illegitimate elite ie. Thus, Brexit presents an overt form of disintegration in the EU, throwing the future relationship between the EU and the UK into great uncertainty Leruth and Lord, In the wider context of the EU, the Eurobarometer report reflected that 66 percent of EU citizens do not feel that their voice count in the EU decision-making process, a sentiment that enabled the significant growth of dissenting parties in the European Parliament after the elections Brack and Startin, The radical right in particular gained the most from the elections with their anti-immigrant, anti-globalisation agenda; fundamentally shifting the party composition and hence, political dynamics in the European Parliament Brack and Startin, Jean-Claude Juncker has rightly pointed out that the unity and integrationist goals of the European Union has never been so fragile until recently European Commission, Horizontal solidarity between the EU member states is waning Kennett, From a theoretical perspective, Cianciara 40 points out that disintegration can be interpreted in two ways; the ultimate collapse of the EU project, or a dynamic process of adaptation and response to member state preferences.

Nonetheless, the growth of Eurosceptic parties in the EU remains a divisive force. The Euro debt crisis sparked a chain of policy actions by the EU that tightened the fiscal discipline imposed on EU member states, particularly those in the EEA Lane, ; Giannone, The Euro debt crisis itself can be traced back to the structure of the European Monetary Union — having an institution that governs EMU monetary policy, but loose institutional structures for fiscal governance Verdun, Structurally, this disjuncture of having a supranational monetary union and various fiscal jurisdictions has created a partial integration that has proved unsustainable and incoherent, creating the conditions for the lapses in fiscal management and the economic crisis that followed as a result Youngs, 4; Verdun, In addition, the Fiscal Compact of sought to bring economic reforms by member states under EU coordination, and place constitutional restrictions on budget spending, where non-compliance would lead to punitive consequences Gill, Social or collective policies are rejected in favour of the propagation of markets that do more harm to the lives of citizens Gill, The shock of disciplinary neoliberal measures enforced by the EU and the subjugation of national governments to supranational institutions have created a fundamental breach in the political contract between voters and the multiple layers of governance from the national level to the EU-level Papadopoulos and Roumpakis, The legitimacy of the political elite and representative democracy are called being into question by the new institutions formed by the EU in response to the Euro debt crisis Flesher Fominaya, Therefore, a democratic deficit can also be observed in the economic domain, particularly through the coercive economic measures taken by the EU following the Euro debt crisis Youngs, Opposition by Greek citizens to the neoliberal regime of the EU propelled the anti-austerity Syriza party into power, a party that campaigned against austerity and against the neoliberal order of the EU itself, demonising the Troika Papadopoulos and Roumpakis, From an institutional and procedural perspective, the Fiscal Compact extended the use of reverse qualified majority voting over the excessive deficit procedure, effectively granting the European Commission unprecedented procedural powers and almost automatic approval for their recommendations Seikel, These moves legally extend the competencies of EU institutions into what was previously under national jurisdiction, such as budget setting, wage policy and economic planning Papadopoulos and Roumpakis, Such powers effectively bind countries such as Spain and Greece from carrying out counter-cyclical fiscal policy, and forces them into complying with counter-productive austerity measures against the will of its own people Papadopoulos and Roumpakis, The citizen mobilisations against the neoliberal regime such as the Indignados movement in Spain are therefore overt expressions of the will of the people against austerity, and the very real impact austerity has on their lives Flesher Fominaya, ; Papadopoulos and Roumpakis, These movements demonstrate a growing sense of disillusionment with the existing system of representative democracy, demanding for better representation for the people through new participatory approaches Flesher Fominaya, These developments only serve to widen the democratic deficit within the EU, as the EU continues to form complex institutions rather than giving its citizens a voice Youngs, 1.

The EU and its institutions have been predominantly market-making, as opposed to market-correcting, creating a tension with member-states by restricting their ability to implement market-correcting measures.

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The idea of a Social Europe was to support and sustain the cessation of macroeconomic control to the Economic and Monetary Union, with the advancement of both economic and social goals Dannreuther, However, the historical trajectory of the EU has been predominantly market-making, with the asymmetric development of competences favouring the market, whilst leaving market-correcting policies to individual member states Bailey, This is a result of the diversity in the varieties of capitalism, welfare regimes and industrial relations between member states, making any formal decision on EU-level market-correction difficult Scharpf, ; Seikel, Thus, the historical development of market-correcting measures has been predominantly within the competence of nation states while EU-level policies have focused its competence on market-making policies Scharpf, ; Seikel, Thus, EU-level social policy diverges from traditional forms of social policy as it is primarily concerned with the functioning of the labour market rather than social protection and risk convergence per se Bailey, ; Kennett, Solidarity is the fourth pillar of the European project, in addition to peace, justice and freedom Ellison, 1.

This means that national governments are constrained by market competition pressures through the interconnectedness of the EU and its institutions, leaving little policy space for market correction Scharpf, Social policy is subordinate to economic policy Schellinger, This asymmetry between market-making and market-correcting have reduced the capacity of governments to implement social policies that counter the social consequences market forces, leaving their citizens even more vulnerable when austerity is applied Scharpf, The realities of austerity imposed on individual member states undermine the well-being of citizens by exacerbating income inequalities, promulgating low-wage work while cutting welfare spending, which in turn fuels political dissatisfaction and opposition to EU membership Kennett, ; Dukelow and Kennett, Instruments used for European-level social and economic governance has shifted from flexible to coercive since De la Porte and Pochet, In , the Troika forced Greece into tightening its austerity measures, ignoring critical reports about shrinking healthcare expenditures and the adverse impacts on infant mortality, HIV, suicides and other social indicators Gill, The austerity measures imposed onto Southern Europe shocked the very pillars of the Southern European welfare model, plunging these countries into insecurity Papadopoulos and Roumpakis, The familial model of welfare was crippled as the well-protected male breadwinner faced unemployment and pay cuts Saraceno, These are the consequences of disciplinary neoliberalism, where capital is being prioritised over the well-being of citizens Gill, Unsurprisingly, with the retrenchment of social welfare across Europe, a sense of injustice is felt by the people Ellison, 7.

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  • Meanwhile, ideological rhetoric continued to emphasise on the alleged dangers of debt and deficits, using them to justify welfare cuts and reject fiscal stimulation as a solution to the financial crisis Krugman, In reality, this undermines the economy, increases unemployment and further erodes the ability of the people to secure their own social needs Krugman, Greece was forced to pay a debt that even IMF economists thought was unrepayable Gill, This is clearly not the vision of the EU as when then Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Laszlo Andor 3 espoused the need for social cohesion and solidarity in the wake of the economic crisis.

    Social and labour rights remain subordinate to fiscal discipline, a political priority that continues at a high social cost Woolfson and Sommers, From a broader perspective, the political, economic and social crises are symptomatic of the underlying institutional crisis that the EU is facing.

    The EU is a regional organisation that has integrated an unprecedented number of states at a deep level Schmitter, Nevertheless, large disparities still exist between the EU member states in the political, economic and social domains Rumford, It is in the context of these variations that the innovative institutions and their organisational architecture of the EU are constructed Richardson, Yet, even as the EU seeks to build a European identity, extreme nationalism has emerged, fragmenting EU solidarity from within Outhwaite, Even as the EU seeks to uphold democratic values, perceptions of democratic deficit continue to grow Miszlivetz, 2.

    Both horizontal and vertical solidarity are being shaken Kennett, Achieving coherence is a particular challenge as the EU continues to wrestle with the many diverging priorities of its member states Outhwaite, Through these crises, Euroscepticism has been brought from the periphery to the mainstream and continue to inhibit the solidarity and integration of the European project.

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    Events such as the financial crisis, migrant crisis and Brexit referendum serve as focusing events that surface the deeply-rooted and underlying issues that continue to hound the EU and cast doubt over its long-term viability. Andor, L.

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