Deliberating around a deficit : the geography of the EU's democratic deficit in the UK and a practical application of deliberative democratic theory
This thesis reports research into the democratic deficit of the European Union. Conducted at a time of increased academic, political and popular concern over the legitimacy of the EU, this research formulated a working definition of the deficit that had the citizens of the Union at its heart. The geographic variation of the deficit was assessed across the UK by means of a comparative case study methodology. Three regions were examined; South East England, North East England and central Scotland respectively, and the complex relationship that was found to exist between the regional scale, and the national scale is explained. That the research placed citizens at the heart of its definition of the deficit stems from the intention to assess the potential offered by more effective participation m decision making processes to enhancing the legitimacy of the EU. In particular the theory of deliberative democracy is tested, and as such a valuable contribution is made to the relatively under-developed literature on the more practical aspects of this model. The research is uniquely placed to assess the potential offered by deliberative democracy to filling the deficit by means of its carefully devised methodology. At all times the research employed techniques that were deliberative in character, even devising a novel method as a counter to practical problems preventing the use of more established methods. The thesis makes recommendations to the European Commission suggesting how its public information policy should be reformed, and builds towards reflections on the care with which deliberative ideals must be pursued if they are to realise their true potential for widening meaningful political participation in the contemporary EU.