A Demos for the European Union?



The European Union's alleged shortage of democratic legitimacy is said to be caused partly by the polity's lack of a demos which makes it unsuitable for majoritarian decision-making. However, this problem is often overshadowed by – sometimes even confused with – the lack of public enthusiasm as regards European integration. But, although clearly related, these are not synonymous. The no-demos thesis focuses on the lack of a transnational political relationship between individuals and is related mainly to the legitimacy of the EU's decision-making processes, whereas the issue of popular support primarily relates to the legitimacy of European integration itself. In this article, I address the former by attempting to answer the following questions. Firstly, what do we mean when we say that the EU has no demos? Secondly, does the EU really need a demos, and if so, how can one be created?