Bilbao, Spain

The EU and Political Corruption: Democracy and Accountability

when 1 July 2019 - 5 July 2019
language English
duration 1 week
credits 1 EC
fee EUR 400

The management of public policies in Europe does not happen in a bubble nowadays. Public institutions at all levels (European, national, regional, local) are bound to one another and face the same democratic challenges to a large extent (citizen disengagement, fast-growing anti-establishment movements, political corruption, poor performance).

New mechanisms have been introduced in recent years, genuinely aiming at improving democratic quality in Europe, through better citizen participation and public accountability, holding both EU and national institutions to account. Their legal framework is embedded in instruments of a varying nature, some feature a more stringent nature through legally binding obligations which entail sanctions in case of non compliance, while others rely on soft law instruments and societal pressure for their follow-up.

Are these mechanisms effective? How can they be improved?

Following an interdisciplinary approach, this course offers sound empirical and theoretical basis to analyse the advantages and shortcomings of mechanisms of democratic accountability and citizen participation. This course will address issues of democratic accountability, citizens’ participatory rights, public integrity, transparency, institution-reform, among others.

The course reviews the legal framework and the accountability policy tools implemented by the European Union institutions. Participants will learn to analyze the legal instruments critically and to approach law-making in a creative way. Specifically, students are expected to assess the effectiveness of these mechanisms through case-studies that are subject to empirical analysis. The students become familiar with issues of public ethics, good governance and transparency, against the backdrop of three main theoretical frameworks: throughput legitimacy, multilevel governance, and norm-diffusion dynamics. Reflection is encouraged as to the existence of a distinct European approach to public integrity, by comparison to dominant discourses and legal/political treatment in other nations or regions.

Target group

Students and practitioners who want to add an European layer to their training.
Students and practitioners who want to fine-tune their knowledge of the European Union, through an up-to-date and practical approach.
Law students and legal practitioners desiring to acquire complementary knowledge in public policy-making and control.
Students and practitioners interested in institution-design, desiring to acquire analytical skills to critically assess the legal framework and institutional practice of mechanisms of participation and control in EU public policy-making.
Previous background in EU law, or in public-policy management, is desirable but not essential.

Course aim

At the end, the participant should be able to analyse the legal framework of democratic participation and accountability mechanisms, forecast risks linked to their practical implementation, and propose creative solutions for their improvement. More specifically, it is intended that students can:

Identify mechanisms strengthening the democratic quality of the political system in the European Union.
Understand the various dimensions through which the performance of accountability mechanisms can be assessed: transparency, exposure, judgment and sanction.
Apply these dimensions to the assessment of specific mechanisms of democratic control: citizens’ initiative, early warning mechanism (subsidiarity), ‘rule of law’ control (art. 7), discharge procedure, financial corrections, European Semester, fight against corruption.
Forecast risks linked to the implementation of democratic participatory and accountability mechanisms.

Fee info

EUR 400: Total fee: 400€