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Problem-solving effectiveness and democratic accountability in the EU


  • Scharpf, Fritz W.


The paper begins by examining the functions of input-oriented and output-oriented legitimating arguments in liberal democracies. At the European level, input-oriented arguments remain weak, but legitimacy problems are generally avoided since the policies which can in fact be adopted under prevailing institutional conditions are still based on broad intergovernmental consensus. For a variety of new policy challenges, however, consensus on the choice of European solutions is unlikely to be reached, even though member states are unable to cope with such challenges on their own. Among the examples discussed are the notorious problems of a common foreign, security and defense policy and the spillovers of European economic integration that are challenging national welfare regimes. The resulting problem-solving gaps, which may undermine political legitimacy nationally and in the EU, could not be legitimately overcome by moving from consensual to majoritarian governing modes at the European level. What could help are modes of differentiated integration which allow groups of member states to adopt consensual European solutions applying only to members of the group.

Suggested Citation

  • Scharpf, Fritz W., 2003. "Problem-solving effectiveness and democratic accountability in the EU," MPIfG Working Paper 03/1, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:p0056

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:forpol:v:83:y:2017:i:c:p:181-190 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Steffek, Jens, 2014. "The democratic output legitimacy of international organizations," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Global Governance SP IV 2014-101, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    3. repec:bla:jcmkts:v:55:y:2017:i:5:p:1127-1143 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Myrto Tsakatika, 2005. "Claims to Legitimacy: The European Commission between Continuity and Change," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 193-220, March.

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