A contradictory creation indeed, the European Union has most of the institutions of a modern democracy, yet it does not function as one. Moreover, its growing scope of activity and supranational decision making processes are undermining the legitimacy of democracy in its member states. Much has been written about this double "democratic deficit," but surprisingly little thought has been given to what to do about it--short of drafting and ratifying a new federal constitution. In this provocative book, Philippe C. Schmitter explores both the possibility and the desirability of democratizing the EU. He argues that as a "non-state" and a "non nation" it will have to invent new forms of citizenship, representation, and decisionmaking if it is ever to democratize itself. The author also contends that the timing and political context work against a full-scale constitutionalization of the process. He proposes a number of modest (and some less modest) reforms that could improve the situation in the near future and eventually lead to a genuine Euro-democracy.
Schmitter offers here a pointed description, as comprehensive as it is concise, of the daunting agenda of building a future democratic European polity. Building such a polity involves a gain for all in the long run, but also a very definite loss for member polities and their sovereignty in the short run. How can short-run rationality be stopped from killing long-term objectives? Schmitter's original and tightly argued set of proposals suggest how this can be accomplished. ---Claus Offe, Humboldt University, Berlin--Claus Offe, Humboldt University, Berlin