The organs of representative democracy are essential components in the democratic functioning of European institutions.
The Jacques Delors Institute therefore devotes considerable attention to the European Parliament, including its decision-making process and the election of its members. Political parties are another essential element of the Jacques Delors Institute’s work, comprising both the steadily developing European parties and national parties which are not playing their full role on the European stage. Meanwhile, national parliaments are having difficulty finding their place in the European decision-making system, which has tended towards an increased domination by national governments. More involvement of national parliaments is a matter of priority. In this context it is essential to analyse and articulate the dimensions, both national and European, of democracy within the European Federation of Nation States.
In parallel, Notre Europe-Jacques Delors Institute is working on research into the instruments of a “European participatory democracy”.
The Jacques Delors Institute studied and initiated groundbreaking experiments in citizen deliberation (in particular, the first transnational deliberative poll) and contributed to the launch of the Europe Forum (États généraux d’Europe). Today it continues to become involved in initiatives which might stimulate civic debate on Europe, while taking an interest in the “European citizens’ initiative” created by the Lisbon Treaty.
The building of a “European public sphere” is the third component of EU democracy, and therefore of Notre Europe’s research. It implies analysing the changes in national public opinion with regard to European integration, and also the ways in which these changes influence the EU. It also means an examination of how politicisation (in particular by way of parties) of the European debate could help make this debate more accessible to ordinary citizens. Finally it means measuring the impact of the EU’s citizen-focused activities on the EU’s functioning and on the direction of European integration – in a direct parallel of research conducted on European identities.