Liberal democracies are under pressure, both worldwide and in Europe. Populist forces of various persuasions promise protection and security through isolation and a strong, authoritarian state. The European Union is not immune to these developments. For example, in Hungary and Poland, farright nationalist to nationalistic parties of different forms and with different historical backgrounds are in government. Both propagate an ‘illiberal’ democracy, by which they understand majority rule, which turns its back on a pluralist social order characterised by critical public debate and the guaranteeing of minority rights.
The dismantling of democracy in an EU member state is not a national problem – it is a European one. If the rule of law is impeded in one member state, this affects the community at its core and threatens the basis of cooperation within it.
But how should the EU react to the dismantling of democracy within its ranks? How can it prevent this and protect the democratic state upholding the rule of law? This is the subject matter of the present study. The study makes clear the dilemma in which the EU finds itself and what possibilities for action are available to it.
The Nature of the Problem
Part I: Preliminary Considerations
The Democratic Dilemma in Federations:
Structural Constraints and Approaches to their Solution
2 Lessons from history
3 Types of solutions
Safeguarding Democracy in the European Union: An overview
1 Treaty amendments since the Treaty of Maastricht
2 The crisis in Austria
3 The procedure of Article 7 TEU
5 The socalled Commission-procedure: The EU Framework to Strengthen the Rule of Law
7 Summary: Experiences at the European and at the member state level
Interlude Safeguarding Democracy in the European Union in Times of Authoritarian Movements
Institutional Approaches in the Current Debate
1 Legal approaches
2 Functionalist-administrative approaches
3 Joint Art. 7 TEU procedures against several member states
Commentary and Reform Approaches
1 Developing systematic criteria: protecting the democratic opposition
2 Informal means of influence
3 Institutional approaches: possible actions of EU institutions