EU construction

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Albert Weale and Mich Nentwich ”Political theory and the EU”     Ch.1 Legitimacy and the European Union.   Following Beetham´s analysis of political legitimacy as a multi-dimensional concept, comprising different elements of legality, normative justifiability and legitimation. Political power is legitimate to he extent that:    It is acquired and exercised according to the established rules (legality); and   The rules are justifiable according to socially accepted beliefs about (1) the rightful source of authority and (2) the proper ends and standards of government (normative justifiability); and positions of authority are confirmed by the express consent or affirmation on the part of appropriate subordinated, and by recognition

from other legitimate authorities (legitimation).   Leaving aside for the present the form of legality characteristic of liberal democracy (constitutional rule of law) in order to concentrate on the key dimension of normative justifiability, we can identify its distinctive source of authority in the principle of popular sovereignty, and its acknowledged ends of government to be the protection of basic rights (freedom, security, welfare, albeit in variable or contestable order). Each of these legitimising criteria is complex, though in different ways. From the principle of popular sovereignty derives the electoral authorisation of government, and the criteria of representation, accountability, and, so forth, that comprise the manifestly democratic aspects of legitimacy.

  Legitimation is a feature of all political orders. Legitimacy of a liberal democratic system depends on three criteria: an agreed definition of the people or political nation as defining the rightful bounds of the polity; the appointment of public officials according to accepted criteria of popular authorisation, representativeness and accountability; and the maintenance by government of defensible standards of rights protection, or its routine removal in the event of failure. Of course the particular form these criteria take in any given country will depend upon its distinctive tradition and historical evolution, including the survival of pre-democratic modes of legitimation.   Legitimacy in the European Union legitimacy as the EU enjoys must be quite different from

that of these states which compose it, and more akin to that of other international authorities, whose membership comprises states rather than individual citizens. This is a legitimacy constructed on the one hand at the level of legality- superior jurisdiction to which national legal systems are subordinate- and on the other at the level of legitimation- the public recognition and affirmation by established legitimate authorities- rather than at the level of normative justifiability.   This is because the EU does not need them for its effective operation. Its addresses are primarily member states and their own legal authorities; and it no more requires obedience and cooperation from ordinary citizens than do NATO, the WTO or the UN itself.   First, viewed as a

regulatory regime, EU law impacts directly on citizens, as producers, employees, consumers, etc., and requires their acknowledgement of it as binding on them, and therefore their recognition of the EU as a rightful source of valid law. This is evident, for example, across the range of quota policy- the preservation of fish stocks, the reduction of agricultural surpluses, the rundown of rust- belt industries- where decisions jeopardise the livelihood of individuals directly and have significant distributional consequences. The tendency of national governments to offload the odium for such decisions very publicly onto the EU only makes the issue of its legitimacy more, not less, salient.   Second, from a dynamic point of view, the development of the EU historically has exposed