By Sverker Gustavsson [*1]
In princple, there are five solutions to the problem of reconciling suprastatism and democratic accountability. These are to abandon suprastatism, to democratize suprastatism, to provisionalise suprastatism,to surrender represenation and to abandon accountability. The paper is focussing upon the latter three of these alternatives. How can the democratic deficit be defended? What criteria apply when evaluating the abolitionist and preservationst strategies? Taking his point of departure in a Popperian way of reasoning the author ends up arguing that a piecemeal constitutional engineering is preferable to a utopian strategy. Provisionalising suprastatism is the least worst alternative when trying to establish monetary union without fiscal union .
The reorientation of Sweden's foreign policy in 1990 took place in the aftermath of two major historical events. One was the fall of the Berlin wall. In the new situation Sweden and Finland became less interested in keeping up a buffer zone of non-aligned states in Northern Europe. Thereby the policy of "non-alignment aiming at neutrality in war-time" became obsolete. The other was the impossibility of fighting unemployment alone. In an international context of established neo-liberalism, the policy of full employment turned into a political impasse (J. Gustavsson 1998).
As a combined effect of these two major developments - the end of the cold war and the international retrenchment of the welfare state - Sweden entered the European Union on January 1, 1995, after a referendum on November 13, 1994. Politically, this meant that Sweden did not debate membership until the democratic deficit had come to the forefront through the ratification problems related to the Maastricht Treaty. As a consequence, it became hard to convince the Swedish public that the deficit could be handled according to the pre-1989 idea of permissive consensus. The problem of reconciling of suprastatism and democratic accountability did not seem to have any obvious practical solution.
Three main questions are being posed in the post-1995 public debate on the European Union in Sweden. First, what should be our position as to the principle of open government? Should we contribute to a less secretive standard by trying to open up the European Union procedures via using the less restrictive practices in Sweden? Second, what should be our position to the principle of parliamentarianism? The system, which was introduced in 1917, meant a fusion between the majority in the Riksdag and the Government. These basic institutions started to work in close cooperation with each other on regulatory as well as on fiscal matters. After we joined the EU, important parts of the legislative competences are pooled in the councils of ministers at the European Union level. Should the individual ministers in Stockholm then keep working together with their opposite numbers in the Riksdag? Or should they restrict themselves to a purely informative behaviour in relation to their political base in the Riksdag? Third, what should be our position as to whether the deficit should be preserved or abolished ?
This third question - on which I am going to concentrate in this article - is the core constitutional policy problem within the general problematique of democracy and sovereignty (Newman 1996). In sum and according to my own view, there are two normatively defensible solutions - the German Constitutional Court's option of autonomy compatible provisionalism on the one hand and the idea of democratising suprastatism on the other.
When the Swedish people said yes to the European Union in 1994, the majority in the referendum was based on the German idea of the provisional character of the European suprastatism. As a consequence, the current Swedish discussion on joining the EMU and giving more weight to the more populous member states in the Council is very much influenced by the fact that the Swedish public defines the democratic problem at the European level as a matter of autonomy compatible provisionalism. However, it is easy to consider joining the EMU as neither autonomy compatible nor provisional. Likewise, it is hard to accept a demographic adjustment of the weights given to the different member countries in the voting rules of the Council. Why should Britain be given more weight than Sweden, as long as the Union as a whole is a union of states rather than a union of citizens?
1 * Jean Monnet professor of European political integration, Department of Government, Uppsala University, Sweden. E-mail: Sverker.Gustavsson@statsvet.uu.se This paper is scheduled for publication as chapter 2 in Catherine Hoskyns & Michael Newman, eds., Democratizing the European Union. Issues for the 21st Century. Manchester University Press. Forthcoming, Spring 2000. I want to thank professor Weiler for letting me have it pre-published in this series of working papers.The usual disclaimers apply.
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