The Construction of European Demoi-cracy

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The next decade will be crucial for the survival of the European Union. Could the concept of “European demoicracy” help highlight both the successes and failures of democracy in the European Union and offer a new vision for a European future?

This project explores the many different voices, ways, places and contexts in which European narratives about democracy are constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed. Topics of study include the Euro crisis, refugees in the EU, the rule of law, sustainable integration and the implications of Brexit.

Straddling Political Theory and International Relations, this project is grounded in the “demoicratic perspective” that has emerged in the last decade among a number of scholars. This approach defines European demoicracy as “a Union of peoples, understood both as states and as citizens, who govern together but not as one, and remain together by choice.” Crucially, the idea of demoicracy is both analytical, describing the EU “as is”, and normative, pointing to the limitations of the European project as an incomplete demoicracy. As it is, the EU falls short of demoicratic values of non-domination and mutual recognition in many respects. But it also approximates these values better than either an alliance of states or a federal state.

The centrifugal forces plaguing the EU have never been so strong, but transnational demoicracy represents a third way – one that transcends the dichotomous tendencies of the sovereignists-cum-statist vs federalist-cum-cosmopolitan debate. Demoicracy identifies the EU as a union with two normative subjects: states and citizens. Pursuing the common good of Europe, therefore, means protecting and promoting the values and interests of both states as self-governing collectives and citizens as autonomous individuals.

Applying these insights to the current multi-faceted crisis of the EU, the project investigates the many ways in which the crisis has brought the imperative of democratic autonomy within the EU to the forefront, a concern at the core of demoicratic theory. It aims to bring citizens back to the centre of the analysis, as independent actors who are not just members of a nation-state but also have transnational rights claims and different degrees of transnational solidarity.

Principal Investigator

Professor Kalypso Nicolaïdis



Project Start / End

Jun 2014 - Jun 2018

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