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Democracy versus Solidarity in the EU Discourse

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Jozef Niznik

It is hard to find another two concepts which would be more significant in the European integration discourse than «democracy» and «solidarity» and at the same time more ambiguous in the political practice of integration. Currently European integration discourse is being organized around the concept of democracy. Analyzing European integration discourse the author argues that the situation is quite paradoxical because in order to secure democracy in the EU, European integration discourse must be organized not around the concept of democracy but around the concept of solidarity. The book attempts to show in more details the context of the clash of these fundamental values which serve also as the leading political principles of European integration. Therefore several further concepts and problems have been discussed such as the issue of identity, the concept of citizenship and the problem of nationalism. Since the theoretical framework of the analysis have been built around the idea of discourse the inevitable consequence was to look at some aspects of communication and the links between conceptual and normative development of the European integration.

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Introduction

Extract

More and more observations of current EU political life seem to offer strong evidence that democracy has become an essential barrier to solidarity. It is hard to find another two concepts which would be more significant in the European integration discourse than ‘democracy” and “solidarity”, and at the same time more ambiguous in the political practice of integration. Of course, the theoretical nature of each of these concepts is quite different. The first one has a well established theoretical background linked to its etymology while the second has been primarily a concept of everyday life and has reached its current position in the language of politics quite recently, attaining the level of a distinct chapter in the Lisbon Treaty. Both have been taken for granted as the obvious fundamental principles of this unprecedented experiment which has brought together European states despite their differences and their difficult relations in the past. In the political language that has been developed along with European inte- gration the concept of solidarity has been used extensively since its beginning, e.g. in the Schuman Declaration of 1950, but the variety of its meanings in different contexts has always indicated potential for confusion. At the same time the ideal of democracy has been adopted as a primary condition for any accepta- ble political system in Europe. Therefore, it has become one of the basic requirements within the Copenhagen criteria which must be observed by states aspiring to membership of the European Union. As it happens both concepts...

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