Assembly Required: Institutionalising Representation in the European Communities

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisExternal


The European Union is often said to be run by an unelected elite of technocrats,
and to therefore be undemocratic. This criticism is as old as the 1950 Schuman
Declaration, which is why the European Communities came with representative
institutions: the European Parliament for representing citizens and the
Economic and Social Committee for representing organised interests. This
book follows the European representatives, the members of these institutions,
in their attempts to become a democratising counterforce in the European
Communities during the 1950s and 1960s. It shows that they came out as
advocates of democratic reform from day one, which culminated in the direct
election of the European Parliament in 1979. Furthermore, it shows that even
before the first European elections, they succeeded in extending their roles far
beyond the limited powers that the European Treaties prescribed for them.

The European representatives pioneered democracy at a European scale. The
big question was what it should look like in practice and what their role was in
making it happen. Was democracy by definition a grassroots phenomenon or
could supranational institutions bring it to life? Were the citizens and interests
they represented national or had these citizens and interests, by virtue of the
European Communities, become European? In a project that revolved around
unification, the European representatives thus faced a real dilemma between
fostering European unity and expressing the diversity that characterised the
European political landscape.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Radboud University (Nijmegen)
  • Aerts, R., Supervisor, External person
  • van der Zweerde, Evert, Co-Supervisor, External person
  • van Meurs, W., Supervisor, External person
Award date6 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Assembly Required: Institutionalising Representation in the European Communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this