The Impact of the Charter

  • Justus Schönlau
Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics book series (PSEUP)


Initial reactions to the completion of the Charter Convention’s works in October 2000 were mixed with one observer describing the likely effect of the Charter as that of ‘water on marble’ (i.e. none),1 while others hailed it as giving a ‘heart to the technocratic EU’,2 or even as a ‘milestone for European integration’.3 These assessments came in response to the symbolically-charged adoption ceremony of the Charter draft by the Convention, during which all but two Convention members rose to their feet and listened to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy as they applauded the successful completion of their task.4 However, what role does the Charter and its process play in the wider debate about the legitimation of the European Union?


Advocate General Polity Legitimacy Constitutional Treaty Regime Legitimacy Constitutional Convention 
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  1. 5.
    For a list of legal references to the Charter as of 1 July 2003 see: S. Peers & A. Ward, The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2004), Appendix 1.Google Scholar
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    Ibid. For a discussion of the link between the commonly assumed ‘democratic deficit’ and the idea of a legitimacy deficit’ see also C. Lord, A Democratic Audit of the European Union (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2004).Google Scholar
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    Despite the fact that Schmidt develops her categorisation of discourses on the basis of how national discourses are influenced by integration, it also holds for the European level itself. V. A. Schmidt, ‘Democracy and Discourse in an Integrating Europe and a Globalising World’, European Law Journal, 6 (2000), 277–300, p. 279.Google Scholar
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    One prominent exception in the Charter debates was the clear statement of the French government and its representative that a reference to Europe’s religious heritage in the preamble would be ‘unacceptable’ to a secular country like France, see also J. Meyer (ed) Kommentar zur Charta der Grundrechte der Europäischen Union (Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden, 2003), p. 22.Google Scholar
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    For a comparision between the two methods based on the Constitutional Convention (but still in many respects applicable to the Charter Convention) see J. Pollack & P. Slominiski, ‘The Representative Quality of EU Treaty Reform: a Comparison between the IGC and the Convention’, European Integration, 26 (2004), 201–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    While the projection of the EU’s values towards the outside seems to have had little effect on the legitimacy debate so far, mainly because EU policy in this area is still in the early stages of its development (see for example J. Zielonka (ed.) Paradoxes of European Foreign Policy (Kluwer Law International, The Hague, 1998)), in the internal context the Austrian case for example suggests that the effects on legitimacy are negative.Google Scholar

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© Justus Schönlau 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justus Schönlau
    • 1
  1. 1.European ParliamentBrusselsBelgium

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