Making Sense of the EU: The Challenge for Democracy

Issue Date October 2003
Volume 14
Issue 4
Page Numbers 101-114
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In an interview with Italian journalist Antonio Polito, Ralf Dahrendorf—the renowned German sociologist, member of Britain’s House of Lords, and former commissioner of the European Union—cautions against overly optimistic assessments of the prospects for democracy at the European level. At its origins with the European Community, the EU was designed not primarily to be democratic but to be an efficient mechanism for decision making. Integration has subsequently produced political institutions and practices that are intrinsically not democratic. As the process continues, and as the world in general advances beyond the nation-state, we must revisit the principles of democracy and ask ourselves how they can be applied in the new situation.