Brexit and the Democratization of the EU Regime

    • EUPE Florence Dec2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Pierre Haroche, King's College London, UK


    In this paper, I advance that Brexit has at least two different dimensions: a ‘British Brexit’ that is the culmination of the UK’s long-term awkward position in the EU and a ‘European Brexit’ that reflects an EU-wide rise of Euroscepticism. Focusing on the latter, I then argue that, by transferring competences to the European level, European integration tends to weaken democratic accountability at the national level. Moreover, citizens’ loss of power at the national level is not compensated at the European level due to the absence of a European popular mandate. National executives represented in the Council and members of the European Parliament are both elected on national platforms, which provides them with a high degree of autonomy from popular pressure at the European level. These de-democratization dynamics brought about by European integration generate citizens’ fear and their resistance. However, I further propose that Brexit creates a new strategic context that allows citizens to credibly threaten European elites, which in turn gives fresh impetus to the debate on the democratization of the EU regime. Finally, I critically review recent reform proposals aimed at enabling the emergence of a genuine European popular mandate: the 2014 Spitzenkandidat procedure, Matteo Renzi’s suggestion to organize European open primaries, Sergio Fabbrini’s plan for an elected European President, Andrew Duff’s idea of a pan-European constituency, Francis Cheneval’s proposal for an EU-wide referendum and Thomas Piketty’s plan for a Eurozone Parliament.