Legitimacy crisis in the European Union

PLATO coordinator Chris Lord contributes a chapter on EU legitimacy crisis in the book Theorising the Crisis of the European Union. The chapter goes to the core of the research questions PLATO addresses.


Although, the Union is a multi-state, multi-national and multi-demos political order that makes policy and law within and beyond its component states without itself being a state, the EU also contributes to power relations that define states as states: namely, power relations that are comprehensive; final; monopolistic; coercive and without easy exits. That configuration derives from a need to reconcile two profound needs: a need, on the one hand, for the Union to continue to derive a significant part of its legitimacy from its member state democracies; and a need, on the other hand, for its member state democracies to manage externalities between themselves if they are to deliver their own obligations to their own publics. Yet, arrangements for deriving the Union’s legitimacy from that of its member state democracies are in danger of becoming a new form of political power that is in itself in need of legitimation. By exposing that danger, crises in the Union since 2008 have, indeed, been legitimacy crises.

About the book

Theorising the Crisis of the European Union examines the relevance of integration theories for studying and analysing crisis situations faced by the EU since 2009. Ten years on from the start of the ‘age of crisis’, it critically analyses the impact of the multiple crises’ context on the EU polity and questions the utility of integration theories for grasping the peculiarities of the particular crisis under study. Bringing together prominent scholars in EU studies, the volume constitutes an essential reference book on integration theories. Its contribution is twofold. First, it provides a comparative overview of classical integration theories for studying and analysing current crisis situations the EU faces. Second, the book connects theories to current debates through an in-depth discussion of recent crises that hit European integration since 2009, with a particular focus on the financial crisis, Brexit, refugee crisis, illiberal tendencies in some member states, and the Coronavirus pandemic.


Lord, Chris 
Legitimacy Crisis in the European Union
Theorising the Crisis of the European Union
Nathalie Brack and Seda Gürkan (eds)
Routledge, 2021, ISBN: 9780367431402

Published Jan. 15, 2021 11:08 AM - Last modified Jan. 15, 2021 11:08 AM