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Reflections on multilevel legitimacy


  • Scharpf, Fritz W.


The function of legitimacy is to ensure voluntary compliance with unwelcome exercises of governing authority. Since practically all European law needs to be implemented and enforced by the governments and courts of the member states, the EU does not have to face its citizens directly. It follows that the legitimacy of European governance ought to be conceptualized at two levels. At one level, the legitimacy of member states is decisive for the compliance of individuals and fi rms, regardless of the ultimate origin - international, European or national - of the rules that demand this compliance. At the other level, the legitimacy of the European 'government of governments' is decisive for the voluntary compliance of member states with the obligations imposed on them by the EU. What should be worrying however is the impact which EU governance - especially the rules of negative integration defi ned by politically non-accountable actors - may have on the legitimacy of member states, and ultimately on their capacity to comply.

Suggested Citation

  • Scharpf, Fritz W., 2007. "Reflections on multilevel legitimacy," MPIfG Working Paper 07/3, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:p0079

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    Cited by:

    1. Vivien Schmidt, 2010. "Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union Revisited - Input, Output and Throughput," KFG Working Papers p0021, Free University Berlin.
    2. Andrew Glencross, 2009. "Altiero Spinelli and the Idea of the US Constitution as a Model for Europe: The Promises and Pitfalls of an Analogy," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47, pages 287-307, March.
    3. Hannes Hansen-Magnusson & Antje Wiener, 2010. "Studying Contemporary Constitutionalism: Memory, Myth and Horizon," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48, pages 21-44, January.

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