Online Papers on Parliamentary Democracy IV/2016

The EU as Multilevel Democracy: Conceptual and Practical Challenges


Ben Crum



The aim of this paper is to systematically think through the implications of conceiving of the European Union as a ‘multilevel democracy’. The central claim on which this notion depends is that parliamentary sovereignty in the EU is not embodied in a single institution but remains essentially dispersed across the European level and the whole range of national parliaments. In terms of institutions this implies that, while separate democratic mechanisms are required at the supranational level, these remain complementary to the democratic institutions of the member states (Art. 10 TEU). The emergence of the EU as a multilevel democracy derives from the circumstances that, while functional reasons lead to ever more decisions being adopted at the supranational level, citizens’ political allegiance remains concentrated at the national level. Building on the notion of a ‘Multilevel Parliamentary Field’ and the findings that it has provoked, the paper illustrates the distinctive way in which democratic representation operates in the EU and sketches some of the key challenges this raises for reconstructing representative democracy in a multilevel context.



Online Papers on Parliamentary Democracy IV/2016

ISBN: 978-94-91704-11-6



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