Thank you Prof.Takahashi, and my thanks to the two guest speakers, Professor Hix and Professor Benz for your distinct and stimulating presentation.
I would like to make, first, a few comments to Prof. Hix’s presentation, and then, as a student of French politics, how the problem of the democratic deficit is perceived in France which will lead to another sets of questions to Dr.Benz. Let me use this little piece of paper because my English is not good enough…
Prof. Hix point out that, one of the problems concerning the EU’s democratic deficit,is that the elites and parties are reluctant to politicize the citizens over the EU issues and this is aggravating the situation.
But I also remember being enlightened by one of your previous article, clarifying that the national political parties has no motivations to compete over the European issues, since they know that this will automatically split the traditional electoral support. And indeed, we have seen that even Social-Democratic parties could not prepare a common manifesto in the eve of the European Election.
Yet, should we pray for parties to bring the EU issues into national competition? I don’t really advocate this suggestion, because we should, always be cautious about the consequence, when the political realm and the citizenship are not properly or sufficiently structured, the politicization, that is democratization, could lead the dysfunction or, say, to a democratic backrush. No need to recall Samuel Huntington and his thesis here. And once the Pandora’s Box is opened, unless we will find hopes, it may have a serious consequences; I am the one who take this view that we could be very careful at political engineering.
A certain kind of majoritarian democracy produce, as you said, the losers, and in order that the democracy may fully works, there must be compensation for them. It is true that the EU has already a substantial capabilities and policies which lead to a re-consideration of re-distributional policies in the national level. But this doesn’t mean that the EU has its own re-distribution policies, at least not enough to compensate the losers.
“All the ills of Democracy could be cured by more democracy”, this is a say by Alfred Smith, an American politician, but we don’t really know if this could be applied to the European Union. We can maybe say also that “too much democracy kills democracy”. I am surely critical toward Andrew Moravcsik’s approach, but I am not confident or optimistic either as Prof. Hix is, concerned about the democratic function in the Union. I am not certain that the French ordinary citizens will accept and attribute legitimacy to, let’s say, to a Greek or Polish EU President. Legitimacy in the Union exists because of the national democracies, and I don’t think re-structuring or re-align the nation state’s democracy for the sake of Europe will enforce EU’s legitimacy further. I don’t know if demanding for more democracy is desirable, if we want that the EU remains a sustainable polity. I’ d like to stress that this is not really a reactionary opinion, because, for example, Jacques Delors, one of the greatest European of the time , is also against a federalist Europe and prefer to maintain the old Community Method.
The French, the French who denied the Constitutional Treaty and the EDC Treaty in 1954 to remember, has always dreamed and dreaming an European Union of the French, for the French , by the French , the Europe à la Française, either Gaullists or Socialists. They rejected the Constitutional treaty because they just felt that “this is not the Europe we want”. Indeed, they want a more social friendly Europe, but this should be based on French model. And it is also true , that France, this old Nation-States, with its Statist tradition in its social-economy and playing a guardian of the General Interests has much more difficulties to adapt to the process of Europeanization ; comparing to Great Britain with its market-friendly policies and Germany where they have a positive image of Europeanization .
These differences between the core European nations bring me to ask a question to Professor Benz. One of the prescriptions you presented to the undesirable centralization in the integration process is to develop a certain kind of communicative arena with/by the social partners. Perhaps this kind of proposition is not only drawn from, but also best fitted with federal states such as Germany or Netherlands, where private associations and trade unions play a significant role to manage socio-economic interests and enjoying a legitimized function in society. But as you may know, the unitary state such as France, with dis-organised interests, where the word “corporatism” has a negative connotation, and where it has to rely on strong central executive leadership to maintain effectiveness and legitimacy, should we come to doubt that either developing a social partnership or even multilevel governance could be rather a deadlock for a non-federal states in Europe?.
So, this is all I have to say, in sum, my comments and questions touch the risks of politicizing the EU democracy and the potentialities about the multilevel governance and private partnership. Thank you for your attention.