The political problems of democratic legitimacy related to the construction of the European Union have mutated deeply during the crisis. The survival of the Eurozone has exacted a high toll on democratic principles. National representative democracy has been weakened due to the imperatives of economic integration. The technocratic elements of European integration (independent agencies, binding rules on economic matters) have expanded dramatically in scope. In the past, the technocratic dimension was circumscribed to efficiency-enhancing policies; during the crisis, it has been extended to issues with clear distributional consequences (such as the burden of adjustment between debtor and creditor countries). The resulting paradox is that in a time of growing “politicization” of European affairs, the technocratic bias of the European Union has “depoliticized” economic issues. This article reviews the recent debates about the tension between technocracy and democracy in the context of European supranational integration.


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