European Council on Foreign Relations

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Black Coffee Morning: Legitimacy: Technocracy vs Populism


Brigid Laffan, Professor of European Politics, University College Dublin
Loukas Tsoukalis, President of ELIAMEPand ECFR Council Member

Chaired by:

Dick Oosting, CEO, ECFR

Europe is facing an existential crisis with its integration project unravelling by the day. The Europe in Crisis series of black coffee mornings, organised in association with the European Studies Centre at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, will bring together experts from across Europe to discuss various aspects of the crisis including geopolitics, democracy, institutions, governance and foreign policy.

Today in the EU, the quest for economic efficiency is being emphasised more than the quest for democratic participation. In several cases the EU has taken a high normative stance against economic and political malpractice. And yet, it made itself vulnerable to criticism, particularly from the populist camp. The democratic credentials of the EU have also been questioned. Can the European Commission dictate policies to democratically elected governments? What is the democratic basis of European decisions made by the Franco-German directorate? Can technocratic governments provide solid legitimacy? The speakers will discuss the need to find a balance between the EU’s quest for efficiency and the demand for democratic participation.

Brigid Laffan is Professor of European Politics at University College Dublin and a founding member of the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA), Dublin. She co-authored volume on Ireland in the European Union published in 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan.

Loukas Tsoukalis is a Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration at the University of Athens and President of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). He previously taught at Oxford, LSE, Sciences Po Paris and the European University Institute in Florence. He is also the author of many books and articles on European and international affairs, including The New European Economy (1997)and What Kind of Europe? (2005)published by Oxford University Press and translated into several European languages.

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