Seclusion and Inclusion in the European Polity: Institutional Change and Democratic Practices (SIEPOL)
Director: Prof. Adrienne Héritier
This research project is intended to analyze the causes, processes and impact of political seclusion and inclusion at the European level and at the national level of the old member states, as well as the inter-relationship between these levels.
We focus primarily on the role of institutions in the process of seclusion, and on their relation to the democratic functioning of the European Union and its member states. By seclusion and inclusion we refer to the following: at both the European and national levels, we appear to be witnessing two contrasting developments.
On the one hand, political decision-makers appear increasingly “sealed off” or “secluded” from the wider constituency, and, indeed from the rank-and-file of elected politicians, such as in the case of early agreements in the European legislative process under co-decision; on the other hand, there are multiple and diffuse attempts at a radical opening-up of democratic decision-making that invoke direct-democratic procedures, the opening-up of political decision-making through transparency, and access to information which can include greater parts of the citizenry and can also enhance contact with civil society.
This research project is intended to investigate the factors that drive these developments at the European and national levels, to assess the extent to which the two processes are related, and to analyse the links, if any, between what occurs at the national level and what occurs at the European level.
We finally discuss the normative implications that our findings have for democratic legitimation in Europe. SIEPOL is financed by the Research Council of the EUI for the period 2008 – 2010 and is co-funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council.