Taking into account the increasing dependence of EU politics from the domestic context of member-states, this theoretical essay suggests that we need to rethink the legitimacy of EU referenda both at national and supranational levels, and in accordance to the type of the referendum. Unlike most research on EU referenda informed by direct democracy, the paper employs the approach of agonistic democracy due to the latter’s normative imperative for citizens to have an effective say in the way they are ruled. Discussion proceeds as follows. The first section critically comments on some of the most representative literature on legitimacy in the EU. The section that follows presents the basic features of agonistic democracy, and its value-added for assessing the legitimacy of EU referenda. The third section explores the recent Greek and British EU referenda to demonstrate ensuing legitimacy problems at national and supranational levels. The concluding remarks take as starting point the present analysis to raise broader reflections on legitimacy issues in the EU.
Participation is free of charge, but due to room limitations, please register here. A light lunch will be provided.