Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - EUROCIT (If Europe were once united... from a union of citizens towards a European Citizenry)

This project analysed the socio-political conditions for a European citizenship in terms of European legitimacy and identity. It dealt with a combination of both mass and elites level approaches. Although the conceptual work undertaken in the first Marie Curie action was important, the crisis of Europe which became more acute after the two 'No' in the referenda in 2005 leads us to the conclusion that we have to come back to the theoretical and conceptual dimension of the notions of legitimacy and identity. European citizenship in a socio-political meaning cannot be conceived without a certain degree of European legitimacy and legitimacy cannot exist without a certain level of European identity, in adding to or replacing the national identities.

First of all, we address the question of legitimacy from the theoretical point of view. We propose to disentangle the notion in three dimensions: the input legitimacy, defined as citizens perception of the conformity between the rulers values and their own values; the output legitimacy, perceived as the evaluations of the rulers performances and the substantial legitimacy which we understand as a 'reservoir' of legitimacy. Input and output legitimacies are the sources of positive or negative feelings towards the political system and are 'fed' by substantial legitimacy, mainly in crisis periods. To apply these notions to the European sphere, we take into consideration the multi-level nature of the European integration. As a consequence, the legitimacy of the European Union will not be scrutinised apart of the national, supranational and infra-national sources of legitimacy.

Then, we complete our theoretical framework by introducing the elites-mass relations. The central question is here to choose between two conceptions of the role of the elites in the European integration process. Can it be considered as an 'elite-driven' or a 'mass-driven' process? We make the hypothesis that input legitimacy is more 'mass-driven' while output legitimacy is more 'elite-driven'.

In the empirical part of the study, we find that there is a real gap between the indicators of input and output legitimacies, on the one hand, and the indicator of identity representing substantial legitimacy, on the other. We are also considering Scharpf's hypothesis on the better score of output legitimacy than of input legitimacy which means that European legitimacy is mainly instrumental.

Considering that the use of the identity question drastically lessen the degree of the support of European Union in comparison with the two other indicators means in fact, that, in a crisis situation, the symbolic resources which can be mobilized for gaining a sufficient support from the population do not exist at a sufficient level. A hypothesis is that the 'No' in the two referenda of 2005 is the result of a deficient substantial legitimacy in the country and at the European level. This remains true even if we consider that European identity is not only an exclusive one but also a mixed one with Europe being more important than the national state.

Studies of referenda in 2005 were also undertaken, taking the French, Netherlands, Spanish and Luxemburg cases as case studies of elite-mass relations. One of the conclusions is that a favourable condition for a European legitimising effect of a referendum about Europe is the legitimacy of the current government. In that sense, European legitimacy is also a multilevel concept.

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