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Title: Direct democracy in and between the EU and UK : a legal analysis of the European Citizens' Initiative and the European Union Act 2011
Author: Organ, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 9550
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2015
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Participation is an important theme in current democratic theory and there is burgeoning use of its institutional form, direct democracy, to legitimise political bodies and their decision-making. This thesis analyses the legislative design and implementation of two recent direct democracy innovations: the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) and the referenda in the European Union Act (EUA). The agenda setting ECI, which gives EU citizens the chance to propose legal acts of the Union, is the first supranational instrument of direct democracy, and the EUA contains the UK’s first ongoing legislative criteria that trigger a referendum. The duality of EU democracy is an essential aspect of its legitimisation. Two dichotomies are therefore used to frame the analysis of direct democracy in the EU: the supranational (direct) and intergovernmental (indirect) routes of EU legitimisation and the legitimisation of the EU’s constitutional framework and its daily authority. These dichotomies, and democratic criteria focussed on citizen participation and influence over the political agenda, support the analysis of the likely combined impact of the ECI and EUA on the dual EU democracy. The critical assessment of the legislative design of the ECI and of the Commission’s decision-making in relation to the ECI shows that institutional mediation and the EU’s duality have a significant impact on the potential to increase the influence of EU citizens on the EU political agenda, and to facilitate a challenge to established policy preferences. Similarly the critical analysis of the EUA referenda provisions indicate that the apparently strong opportunity to vote on the UK’s EU policy in a referendum is qualified in a number of respects by institutional control reflected in the legislation itself, and that the chance of citizen-led policy preferences is diminished. The thesis concludes with a combined analysis of the ECI and EUA to assess the joint impact of direct democracy on dual EU democracy through answering two questions: ‘What are their implications for the EU democratic paradigm?’, and ‘What is their influence together on EU democratic legitimacy?’. The overall findings are that the impact of the ECI and EUA, despite posing some challenges and despite their democratic potential, is likely to be heavily restricted as a result of institutional control and the EU’s political framework.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available