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Legitimacy of European Union law

By R. Ball


Much of the focus of debates on legitimacy in the past has centred on democracy and the so-called democratic deficit when analysing the polity of the EU and its laws. However, according to Scharpf there are two aspects of legitimacy, input and output-oriented legitimisation. The former has been filled predominantly with the debate on democracy and has been described as emphasising “government by the people” whilst the latter has received little attention and can be described as “government for the people” . The measurement of input-orientated legitimisation can be assessed through elections and the voting procedure but the measurement of output-orientated legitimisation has proven less forthcoming. It is submitted that political actions and their legitimacy, grounded in legal doctrine, can be analysed through the principles of legal rationality. Thus for Union legal doctrine to be rational it must display the requirements of formal, instrumental and substantive rationality , each mutually exclusive and essential, and examined within the relative political context. This paper will outline a model within which the EU’s political actions can be analysed for legitimacy

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