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Andrew Moravcsik: The Myth of the Democratic Deficit in Europe

Thursday 20 February, 5.30pm
Old Theatre, Old Building

A public lecture presented by the LSE Politics Group, with support from the Journal of Common Market Studies (JCMS) and the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES).

Andrew Moravcsik is Professor of Government and director of the European Union Program at Harvard University, where he has taught international relations since 1992.

Moravcsik's lecture at LSE, The Myth of the Democratic Deficit, draws on his contribution to a major new work entitled Integration in an Expanding European Union, co-edited by Joseph Weiler of New York University.

Will Hutton, chief executive of The Work Foundation and LSE Governor, praised a recent lecture Moravcsik gave in Brussels as 'devastating' in its demonstration of 'how every component of the Eurosceptic argument about the EU is wrong'.

Moravcsik suggests that it is misleading, even absurd to describe the EU as a 'superstate' or a 'despotism' outside democratic controls, as many Eurosceptics do. The EU is effective and successful in large part because it practices 'limited government'. It is leaderless, narrowly constrained by national governments, tightly hemmed by constitutional checks and balances, and nearly devoid of any power to tax, spend, or coerce. The EU has little impact on the partisan issues that dominate modern European politics: social welfare provision, cultural identity, education, and family policy.

With large majorities required for legislation, democratically elected national governments call most of the shots and, in part as a result, the EU's politics are more transparent, less corrupt, and more representative of centrist European opinion than policies in most of its member states.

The few areas of genuinely autonomous decision-making enjoyed by EU officials-constitutional adjudication, central banking, multilateral trade negotiations, and antitrust enforcement-are precisely those excluded from direct democratic control in most national polities, to allow the smooth and fair functioning of government.

Recent EU initiatives-defense and foreign policy, crime fighting, immigration, fiscal policy, and social standards-are embedded in more loosely intergovernmental, often non-binding, and even strictly voluntary institutions, more like NATO or the WTO than the core functions of the EU.

Moravcsik's research, on which this analysis rests, has been praised in several academic disciplines. His work analyzing decisive decisions in EU history, The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht (1998), was described by one critic as 'the most compelling and significant analysis yet of the European Union' (Peter Katzenstein).

This event  is free and open to all with no ticket required.


For press passes only contact Judith Higgin on 020 7955 7582 or email j.a.higgin@lse.ac.uk| 

Notes for editors:

* Professor Moravcsik is the author or co-author of more than one hundred scholarly publications on European integration and other topics in world politics. His commentary on world affairs appears regularly in Newsweek, leading newspapers and radio stations in 13 countries, and foreign policy journals such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and Survival.

Before coming to Harvard, Professor Moravcsik served as trade negotiator at the US Department of Commerce, editor-in-chief of a foreign policy journal in Washington DC, and in other public- and private-sector positions. He has held research or teaching positions at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, New York University, as well as universities and research institutes in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Belgium.

To contact Professor Moravcsik directly by mobile phone, please dial (01) 617-571-7395 in the USA.

* The LSE Politics Group comprises the European Institute, the Departments of Government and International Relations, and the Development Studies Institute.

* Information on the JCMS and UACES will be available at the lecture. See also:

7 February 2003