Europe’s challenge: reconstituting Europe or reconfiguring democracy?
Introduction The European Union (EU) is widely held to harbour a democratic deficit. This raises the issue of forging a viable democracy at the supranational level. This must however also be considered in relation to the question of sustaining national democracy within an altered European and global context. The point is that the European integration process has reshaped the workings of the member states’ democratic orders to such an extent that we must take the EU’s influence directly into account to understand the character and the quality of member state-based democracy. The EU, initially a creature of the member states, has contributed to transforming them, directly through legally binding actions and, more indirectly, through unleashing processes of mutual learning and adaptation. European states’ identities and even state-ness have thus come to resonate with their European-ness, as national law has become so entangled in EU law practice that the member states no longer operate as independent nation states. To dismantle the EU to forge a Europe of wholly independent nation states today will be a transformative project of near-revolutionary proportions.