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Democracy, Subsidiarity, and Citizenship in the 'European Commonwealth'

Neil MacCormick
Law and Philosophy
Vol. 16, No. 4, Constructing Legal Systems: "European Union" in Legal Theory (Jul., 1997), pp. 331-356
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3504980
Page Count: 26
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Democracy, Subsidiarity, and Citizenship in the 'European Commonwealth'
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Abstract

Is there a 'constitutional moment' in contemporary Europe? What if anything is the constitution of the European Union; what kind of polity is the Union? The suggestion offered is that there is a legally constituted order, and that a suitable term to apply to it is a 'commonwealth', comprising a commonwealth of 'post-sovereign' states. Is it a democratic commonwealth, and can it be? Is there sufficiently a demos or 'people' for democracy to be possible? If not democratic, what is it? Monarchy, oligarchy, or democracy, or a 'mixed constitution'? Argued: there is a mixed constitution containing a reasonable element of democratic rule. The value of democracy is then explored in terms of individualistic versus holistic evaluation and instrumental versus intrinsic value. Subsidiarity can be considered in a similar light, suggestively in terms of forms of democracy appropriate to different levels of self-government. The conclusion is that there is no absolute democratic deficit in the European commonwealth.

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