Strengthening democracy in the EU: Alternative forms of representation

WP 2 – Constitutional Politics, WP 3 – Representation and Institutional Make-up, WP 5 – Civil Society and the Public Sphere


WP 3 events 

Bremen, 14-15 July 2011

Venue: Gästehaus der Universität, Teerhof 

Coordinators: Ulrike Liebert and Tatjana Evas, Jean Monnet Centre, University of Bremen


Workshop summary (D52) (pdf)


This workshop focuses on a key problem of the EU’s democratic legitimacy that the German Constitutional Court outlined in its 2009 Lisbon Ruling: The limits of a representative system of government based on direct parliamentary elections in a (con)federation of nation states. The key question is whether and how democratic representation in the polycentric EU could be strengthened by supplementing, displacing or transforming the classical institutions of representative democracy – elections and parliaments – by alternatives, such as functional, policy, discursive or public modes of representation.

For assessing the varieties of representation in EU policy-making, the strengths and limits of their evolving practices and institutional reforms, we bring together findings from the RECON project. Topics include critical assessments of representation in the multilevel parliamentary field of the EU (WP 3), studies of the role of courts in reconstituting democracy in Europe (WP 2) and civil society and the public sphere (WP 5).

This exploration is premised on the assumption that systems of representative government are designed to realize ‘the democratic ideal of giving kratos to the demos, power to the people’ (Pettit, p. 61). In modern representative democracy, elections and parliaments constitute the institutional framework for achieving this aim. For the present purpose, we adopt a broader notion of representation to describe the relationship between representatives (or representers) and the represented (or the representees) in such a way ‘that any public authorities, and any citizens who assume a legitimate role in public discourse, may make a legitimate claim to represent the people’ (P. Pettit, ‘Varieties of public representation’, in I. Shapiro et al., Political Representation, Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 61-2).

The workshop is also designed as a forum for discussing these key questions in view of options for strengthening representation and democracy in the EU through parliaments, courts, civil society and the mass media.

The format consists of the presentation of focused, argumentative ‘short papers’ of approx. 5-8 pages – to be circulated by end-June among all participants – followed by comments and discussions. The expected outcome is a book (or journal special issue) that proposes and discusses recommendations on how to strengthen democratic representation in the EU (approx. 15 papers).

Read more on the overall research objectives of RECON.


Programme (download pdf)

Thursday, 14 July 2011




Ulrike Liebert and Tatjana Evas, University of Bremen 


Philippe C. Schmitter, European University Institute, Florence


Panel I: Re-assessing Representative Structures and Practices of the EU’s Multilevel Parliamentary Field 

Chair: Ulrike Liebert


Ulrike Liebert, University of Bremen


Ensuring Political Equality? The European Parliament and the Democratic Performance of the EU
Christopher Lord, ARENA, University of Oslo and Johannes Pollak, Webster University, Vienna


European Citizen’s Two Representation Channels and their Political Interplay in the EU’s Multilevel Parliamentary Field
Ben Crum, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and  John Erik Fossum, ARENA, University of Oslo


A Crisis of Representing Europeans?
Richard Rose, University of Aberdeen


The Challenge of Representation in the EU
Richard Bellamy, University College London and Sandra Kröger, University of Bremen



Philippe C. Schmitter, European University Institute, Florence
Carlos Closa, 
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas  (CSIC), Madrid
Aleksandra Maatsch, University of Bremen




Friday, 15 July 2011


Panel II: The Role of Courts in Reconstituting Democracy in Europe: Unaccounted Players or Arenas for Citizen’s Representation?

Chair: Norbert Reich


Norbert Reich, University of Bremen


The Social Ideal of the European Court of Justice
Dagmar Schiek, University of Leeds


Constitutional Courts and European Integration: Constructing a Systemic Relationship
Carlos Closa, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Madrid


Lessons from Mass Litigation in and for Europe
Harald Koch, Humboldt University Berlin


Coherence in Application of European Union Law: National Courts Perspective
Tatjana Evas, University of Bremen



Norbert Reich, University of Bremen
Richard Bellamy, University College London
Petra Guasti, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague/Julius-Maximilian University, Würzburg




Panel III: Combining or Colliding? Alternative Forms of Democratic Representation in the EU:  Political Parties, Civil Society and the Public Sphere

Chair: Christopher Lord


Christopher Lord, ARENA, University of Oslo 


Euroscepticism in EU Elections and Referendums
Hans-Jörg Trenz, ARENA, University of Oslo/University of Copenhagen 


National Parties, Parliaments and European Political Discourses
Aleksandra Maatsch, University of Bremen


Democratic Representation as Public Responsiveness: Political Parties, Civil Society, and the Mass Media in EU Policy-making
Ulrike Liebert, University of Bremen 


Philippe C. Schmitter, European University Institute, Florence
Richard Rose, University of Aberdeen
Martin Heidenreich, Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg




Round Table: Lessons from RECON Research for the Reconstitution of Democratic Representation  in the EU

Chair: Ulrike Liebert


Richard Bellamy
Carlos Closa
Tatjana Evas
Petra Guasti
Christopher Lord
Norbert Reich
Richard Rose
Dagmar Schiek
Philippe C. Schmitter
Hans-Jörg Trenz



The workshop is open to the public and free of charge, but those interested should register by emailing Tatjana Evas (ta_ev[at] by 12 July 2011.

For more information, please contact Ulrike Liebert (liebert[at] or Tatjana Evas (ta_ev[at], Jean Monnet Centre for European Studies (CEuS) at the University of Bremen.