Multi-level policy-making between EU, national and sub-national levels has become increasingly complex. This has created the need for innovative governance solutions to address this complexity, which in turn has had an effect on political legitimacy. This project aims to address this topic by developing the linkages between procedural innovation in governance and the legitimacy of these processes in a multi-level political context, looking at how (or whether) political legitimacy can travel between governmental levels. The main research questions that will be addressed are:
1. In what ways does procedural innovation affect legitimacy in the multi-level context of the EU?
2. How do EU governance tools affect perceptions of legitimacy at Member State and regional levels?
The project will look at the effects of the EU-level Social Open Method of Coordination on Member State policies in the UK and Ireland, and what this means in terms of legitimacy at all political levels. A combination of literature review, discourse analysis, network analysis, interviews and statistical approaches will be used to assess legitimacy as citizen input, policy output and procedural throughput. It is hypothesised that EU innovation does act to improve throughput and input legitimacy at the EU levels, but fails to increase this legitimacy at national levels. However, output legitimacy in Member States is likely to increase due to EU oversight.
The work is highly relevant and innovative. It looks to disentangle serious questions faced by the EU in this age of Euroscepticism regarding legitimacy and democracy, showing how EU decisions are made, whether these decisions are seen to be legitimate and how this filters down to the national level. This research will help to disentangle the role of different governmental levels in both creating and receiving legitimacy derived from new governance approaches using innovative methodological and theoretical approaches.