Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2011

Democray and Legitimacy in the European Union Revisited: Input, Output and Throughput.

Vivien Schmidt

November 2010

Kolleg-Forschergruppe "The Transformative Power of Europe"


Whether their analytic frameworks focus on institutional form and practices or on its interactive construction, scholars have analyzed the EU's democratic legitimacy mainly in terms of the trade-offs between the output effectiveness of EU's policies outcomes for the people and the input participation by and representation of the people. Missing is theorization of the "throughput" efficiency, accountability, transparency, and openness to consultation with the people of the EU's internal governance processes. The paper argues that adding this analytic category facilitates assessment of these legitimizing mechanisms' interdependencies and facilitates consideration of reforms that could turn this democratic trilemma into a "virtuous circle".