- Equity as the missing link: the values of the European Union
- Romanian Journal of European Affairs
- Volume | Issue number
- 10 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
The European Union (EU) is a singularly successful example of economic integration. To what extent it has also been a force for democracy- and how it can more clearly become one- are the key questions addressed in this article. Below, I first lay out how the values of prosperity, democracy, and equity are theoretically linked. Second, I show that the values of democracy and equity have been subordinate to aggregate prosperity in the process of both European integration and European Union enlargement. Not only do the EU's institutional structure and policy priorities reveal an imbalance in favor or the common market and in disfavor of a common fiscal and social policy as well as democratic accountability, EU strategy vis-à-vis candidate and accession countries reveals a disregard for the socio-economic implications of transition and for EU-fostered technocratic threats to democratic consolidation. While formal democracy of course remains a criterion for membership, EU conditionality on the whole conflicts with the development of democracy beyond minimal formal criteria. The institutional design and key policies of the enlarging EU thus clearly aim more at creating aggregate wealth than at ensuring social justice or popular empowerment. Greater awareness of the relevant choices among values should precede any further attempts at regional integration.
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