This book addresses the question of political legitimacy in the European Union from the much-neglected angle of political responsibility. It develops an original communitarian approach to legitimacy based on Alasdair MacIntyre's ethics of virtues and practices, that can be contrasted with prevalent liberal-egalitarian and neo-republican approaches. The book argues that a ‘responsibility deficit’, quite distinct from the often discussed ‘democratic deficit’, can be diagnosed in the EU. This is documented in chapters that provide in-depth analysis of accountability, transparency and the difficulties associated with identifying responsibility in European governance. Closing this gap requires going beyond institutional engineering. It calls for gradual convergence towards certain core social and political practices and for the flourishing of the virtues of political responsibility in Europe's nascent political community. Throughout the book, normative political theory is brought to bear on concrete dilemmas of institutional choice faced by the EU during the recent constitutional debates.
The aim of this chapter will be to show what politicalresponsibility refers
to and why politicalresponsibility is desirable in all systems of governance,
including the EU. The two main ways in which politicalresponsibility is
understood – that is, as a set of qualities (or virtues) and as a feature or
an organising principle of a system of governance will be examined and
the relationship that binds them will be explored. It will be demonstrated
that these are only two different aspects of the
European Union in perspective:
the legacy of Jean Monnet
This chapter will attempt to provide an account of why the EU system of
governance presents such serious shortcomings in terms of politicalresponsibility. It will start by going through the principal theories of European
integration, in an effort to see what kinds of explanation could be derived
from them with regard to the EU’s alleged failures of politicalresponsibility.
Neo-functionalist, liberal intergovernmentalist and new institutionalist
approaches will be shown to yield different
regarding the behaviour and performance of
Politicalresponsibility and the European Union
particular Commissioners, and stories were being circulated about particular instances of corruption in the Commission’s administrative corps. There
had also been alarming reports from the Court of Auditors, which alerted
the Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee to a series of irregularities
(Macmullen 1999: 703–4).
In 1998, tensions between Commission and Parliament were running
high, leading to confrontations in the Parliament and culminating in the
handing out of
of forum at both national and EU levels (Börzel and Risse
2000, Börzel and Sprungk 2007). In its turn, and for other reasons related to
the promotion of the institutional preconditions of politicalresponsibility, a
question is raised here regarding identiﬁability in the EU and its relation to
the cataloguing of competences.
Institutions such as the Congress of the Peoples of Europe, proposed
by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing but not approved by the Convention plenary,
and the establishment of practices of European Weeks and Joint Parliamentary Meetings, particularly on
responsibility for their role requirements. The ﬁrst requirement
refers to the appropriate characteristics of the distribution of responsibility
in a system of governance, whereas the second refers to the appropriateness of political agents’ acceptance of this distribution. Identiﬁability fails
when these requirements are not met. Finally, the EU will be examined as to
whether it meets the requirements of identiﬁability.
The causal account of locating politicalresponsibility
When an attempt is made to locate politicalresponsibility, it is common to
try to ‘pin’ it on someone
well as negative assessment. Furthermore, moral accountability is in principle owed to every moral agent, whereas politicalresponsibility is owed to
speciﬁcally designated political agents. In the former there is no one in an a
priori privileged position to hold others accountable, whereas the latter is
rooted in a ﬁxed structure of political roles, among which political accountability is organised. Within this structure, occupants of political roles know
with respect to their roles to whom they are accountable. By contrast, legal
accountability is a practice the
Identiﬁability enables us to locate responsibility for political outcomes and
thereby makes the operation of the practice of accountability possible, otherwise we would not be able to hold agents to account. But a system of governance has another feature whose absence or failure makes accountability
impossible: openness. Without information about the workings of the process of governance, political agents cannot form judgements about politicalresponsibility; they cannot understand why a political agent is responsible,
and they cannot
In 1989, in the American journal The National Interest, Francis Fukuyama's conclusion was about the triumph of Western democratic liberal capitalism over communism. The forces of liberal capitalism that he saw as representing the end of history have unleashed a powerful wave of anger directed at the winning elites. This book is written with two purposes in mind. The first is to try to make some sense of what appears to be a world that is falling apart around us. The second is to try to advance an argument about where we go from here. One of the arguments of the book is that the Brexit and Trump results are a consequence of a series of failures. The book explores debates about methodology and political theory, and about the importance of context and thus of narratives. It discusses points from this debate between the behaviouralists and those in political theory. The book discusses the electoral results of Trump and of Brexit, offering an interpretation of what these results mean in the context of a post-fact world of identity politics. It argues for the importance of political responsibility and of how by recasting and re-emphasising the politics of responsibility becomes possible to address the current failures of our political leaders and political systems. The book suggests three elements to politics: the relationship between knowledge and power, with a particular emphasis on the role of interpretation; political responsibility or the politics of responsibility; and the significance of narratives or meaning (hermeneutics).
For thirty years, the British economy has repeated the same old experiment of subjecting everything to competition and market because that is what works in the imagination of central government. This book demonstrates the repeated failure of the 30 year policy experiments by examining three sectors: broadband, food supply and retail banking. It argues against naïve metaphors of national disease, highlights the imaginary (or cosmology) that frames those metaphors, and draws out the implications of the experiment. Discussing the role of the experiments in post-1945 Britain, the book's overview on telecommunications, supermarkets and retail banking, reveals the limits of treatment by competition. Privatisation of fixed line telecoms in the UK delivered a system in which the private and public interests are only partially aligned in relation to provision of broadband. Individual supermarket chains may struggle but the four big UK supermarket chains are generally presented as exemplars because they have for a generation combined adequate profits with low price, choice and quality to deliver shareholder value. The many inquiries into retail banking after the financial crisis have concluded that the sector's problem was not enough competition. In a devolved experiment, socially-licensed policies and priorities vary from place to place and context to context. However, meaningful political engagement with the specifics in the economy will need to avoid losing sight of four principles: contestation, judgement, discussion, and tinkering. While others can be blamed for the failure of the experiments, the political responsibility for the ending and starting another is collectively peoples'.