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 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.

About the Author

Ralf Dahrendorf, the renowned German-born sociologist, is the author of numerous books in both German and English, including Reflections on the Revolution in Europe (1990) and After 1989: Morals, Revolution and Civil Society (1997). A member of Britain’s House of Lords, he has served as a commissioner of the European Community (1970–74), director of the London School of Economics (1974–84), and warden of St. Antony’s College, Oxford (1987–97). The text below is a version of chapter four of Dopo la Democrazia (2001), a book based on interviews with Lord Dahrendorf by Italian journalist Antonio Polito. It was translated from the Italian by Iain L. Fraser.

View all work by Ralf Dahrendorf