Benedikt Reinke (KCL) - 2017-18 Students

The European Union – a transnational militant democracy?

My research explores the question of whether and, if yes, to what extent the European Union may act as a militant democracy on a transnational scale, beyond the nation states it comprises: Is the EU a democratic system in its own right endowed with the legal competence to safeguard its democratic values against extremist forces at the European level? In this context, EU primary law, especially the ‘values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights’ enshrined in Article 2 TEU, provides a decisive standard. Hence, these values are frequently regarded as the pillars of a democratic EU to be guarded by a European ‘militant democracy’. This, however, applies (often rather tacitly) a concept of democratic self-defence famously coined by Karl Loewenstein for democratic nation states in 1937 to the transnational system of the EU. Yet, is such a transferral a valid step in the first place? Can we apply a notion postulated at the nation-state level to the super structure of the transnational Union? It is this problem that I will take as a starting point for my doctoral thesis. Hence, in a first step, I will re-examine the legal and socio-political conditions attached to the concept of a militant democracy as it applies to individual nation states. In a second step, I will assess these conditions for their applicability to the EU. Taking into account the controversially discussed status of the Union as a democracy, I will explore to what extent it may be regarded as a militant democracy on a transnational scale. In a third and final step, I will trace the Union’s legal competence to protect its democratic order against potentially anti-democratic forces at the transnational level of its institutions as well as its member states.

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