Selected RECON findings presented in brief


How democratic is the European Union? How democratic can it be, and how democratic should it be?
Through a series of studies of a number of policy fields and institutional mechanisms, RECON has discussed the conditions for democracy in the EU. The aim has been to identify strategies through which democracy can be strengthened.
RECON here presents snapshots of selected findings which should be of interest to practitioners and policy makers, media and informed readers, civil society actors and interest groups, as well as other ‘stakeholders’.

Some of these findings will be presented at the RECON outreach seminar ‘Europe’s Democratic Challenge’, Oslo, 24 November 2011, and were also presented at the RECON outreach conference ‘Where is European Democracy Heading?’, Brussels, 19 May 2011.

Reconstituting democracy in Europe – snapshots of findings (pdf)

A paper copy can be ordered by e-mail to admin(at)

Where is European democracy heading? (pdf)

Democracy has historically developed at a national level, but with increasing internationalisation of politics, does the concept need reworking? Read more on RECON’s overall approach and the three RECON models for democracy.

WP 1 – Theoretical Framework

What constitutional future for Europe? (pdf)

It has long been held that only states can have democratic constitutions. What then about the European Union?

In the EU we see efforts to develop a democratic constitution as well as a process whereby national constitutions are becoming Europeanised. One of the questions asked by RECON is if these processes are likely to foster democracy at the European level, and if so, how? Can the EU develop a democratic constitution? If not, can the EU become a viable democracy without a democratic constitution? Equally important, will the EU undermine or consolidate national democracy?

WP 2 – The Constitutionalisation of the EU, the Europeanisation of National Constitutions, and Constitutionalism Compared


A European representative democracy? (pdf)

How novel, how stable, how coherent and how democratic are the European Union’s representative institutions?

Many arguments can be made for desiring a compound form of representation at the Union level, such as the sheer social complexity of the Union, the pluralism of political values affected by its decisions, and the importance of avoiding excessive concentrations of power in single institutions. Yet, desirable does not mean possible. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that combining different modes of representation will automatically add up to good representation. To the contrary, the lumping together of different approaches to representation may amount to little more than a fallacy of composition.

WP 3 – Representation and Institutional Make-Up


Gender democracy – dream or reality for Europe? (pdf)

Gender equality is an essential component of a just and democratic society. RECON therefore asks how Europe’s democracy fares when it is put under the gender spotlight. What is the status of gender equality and gender democracy within the enlarged European Union? Are there differences in various regions? What level(s) of governance is (are) the most relevant for the rectification of injustice and elimination of gender inequality? What kind of policies should the EU pursue in order to sustain gender democracy at all levels?

WP 4 – Justice, Democracy and Gender

Democratising the EU from below? (pdf)

As a public sphere rooted in civil society is essential to democracy, it is important to investigate what kind of civil society and public sphere is emerging in Europe and how this contributes to the EU’s democratic character and legitimacy. To shed light on this, RECON has asked the following questions: How is European democracy practiced? Why is it contested? To what extent is there communication across different types of public spheres?

WP 5 – Civil Society and the Public Sphere

Security beyond democracy? (pdf)

What is the state of democracy within foreign and security policy? The EU’s foreign and security policy is formally conducted through intergovernmental agreements. But are national governments really free to decide on all matters pertaining to foreign, security and defence policy? RECON has investigated if member states have de facto uploaded powers to the EU level.

WP 6 – The Foreign and Security Dimension

Nothing more political than economic policy (pdf)

As the RECON project is coming to an end, the EU is in the middle of a severe economic crisis and the future of the Euro is uncertain. Socio-economic conditions of political communities are critical both for the national and the European levels, as we have seen unfolding in the past months. Hence understanding the nature of these conditions and what consequences the organisation of public finance has for the prospects for democracy in Europe has been a key research priority for RECON. RECON has focused on the four economic freedoms and the fiscal and monetary constitutional principles, which underpin the asymmetric European monetary union.

WP 7 – The Political Economy of the European Union

A European identity? (pdf)

Democratic legitimacy needs to be grounded in the collective will of the members of a political community. European integration has transformed the old Europe of independent nation states and the European Union has formally embraced democratic principles and procedures. However, it has not yet consolidated a democratic practice bringing forth citizens’ trust and solidarity.One might say that the search for democracy in the EU is connected to the search for an expression of the shared identity of the European people. To what extent does such a European identity exist? And if so, how can we see it? How does it affect identification with the nation state?

WP 8 – Identity Formation and Enlargement

Beyond Europe – globalisation and/democratisation? (pdf)

In posing the foundational question of whether democracy is possible also beyond the nation state, RECON does not only address the EU as a confined political entity, but also as part of a globalised and increasingly interdependent world.The world is largely integrated through a common economic legal system, and trade relations are mainly governed by WTO law. At the same time the EU is also a legally integrated economic system. In cases of conflict between these two legal systems, who has the last word? Tensions come to the fore as conflicts between economic interests and diverging policies. How does international trade law and policy affect the conditions of social regulation for constitutional democracies?

WP 9 – Global Transnationalisation and Democratisation Compared

Download a merged pdf with findings from all research fields