Administrative legitimacy and the democratic deficit of the European Union

Zuzana Murdoch (Lead Author), Sara Connolly, Hussein Kassim

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This article suggests a new concept of measurement for the EU’s oft-alleged democratic deficit based on two contributions. First, we turn attention to the administrative staff involved in policy-making rather than the (un)accountability of EUs’ parliamentarians and executive agents. Second, building on the idea that policy-makers’ legitimacy depends on the extent to which they can claim to represent some groups or social interests, we assess the extent to which Commission officials’ preferences reflect European citizens’ policy stance. Our results indicate a statistically significant positive correlation between the policy preferences of EU administrative staff and their home country population, which, we argue, can provide EU administrators a basic degree of legitimacy relative to their home country.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-408
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Accountability
  • Democratic deficit
  • Legitimacy
  • Representative bureaucracy

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