Administrative legitimacy and the democratic deficit of the European Union

Zuzana Murdoch (University of Agder), Sara Connolly (University of East Anglia) & Hussein Kassim (University of East Anglia)

In the debate revolving around the EU’s democratic deficit, much has been said about the EU’s electoral accountability, yet we know far less about its administrative legitimacy. The army of civil servants in Brussels may hail from all corners of the EU, but does the diversity of the EU’s administrative workforce provide their home communities with a voice in EU matters? In their article “Administrative legitimacy and the democratic deficit of the European Union” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Zuzana Murdoch, Sara Connolly and Hussein Kassim tap into this gap in our knowledge of the EU’s input legitimacy. Drawing on surveys among EU civil servants and Eurobarometer data, Zuzana, Sara and Hussein analyse whether the policy preferences of administrative staff in EU institutions reflect the preferences of their member states’ populations. Their results suggest that administrative staff in EU institutions in fact represent their constituencies better than their national colleagues in their country of origin. Challenging commonly held notions that the European Commission is aloof and isolated from public opinion, the article also has implications for our understanding of representative bureaucracy, suggesting “that it is not sufficient for a public bureaucracy to look like the wider community, but that within its workforce there must be staff members who think like them.”