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Democratic Implications of the Treaty of Lisbon


only in a limited sense. Firstly, the practice was already established

by the Council’s Rules of Procedure prior to the Treaty of Lisbon,

albeit applied only to legislation adopted by co-decision (Peers,

2008: 1). With the ordinary legislative procedure becoming the

norm under the Treaty of Lisbon, the Council’s Rules of Procedure

would have had similar effects on Council transparency even in the

absence of the provision in Art. 15 (2). Secondly, improving

nominal transparency is a necessary, yet far from sufficient,

measure for tackling the problem of Council accountability.

Nominal transparency does not alter the fact that domestic voters

have no effective way to influence EU policies. The resulting sense

of frustration and powerlessness has reached a point where it is

difficult to distinguish between “anti-incumbency feeling from

anti-Brussels feeling” (“An ever-deeper,” 2012).

Even without the complication of multilevel governance,

representative democracy in general has been in deep crisis for at

least a decade. Elections are a blunt instrument for rewarding or

punishing a party or a coalition: Voters have only one vote to cast,

yet the target of evaluation consists of thousands of policies made

by the same government (


Przeworski, & Stokes, 1999:

49-51). When such a problem-ridden representative system has to

transcend national borders and operate in a multilevel environment,

responsibilities become dispersed or nullified. Under such

circumstances, it is unrealistic to expect voters, via national

elections, to reward or punish national governments on the basis of

decisions made regarding European affairs. In general, ministers

are judged foremost by their ability to deal with domestic issues.

Hence Council members owes their positions to election only at

several removes, and if European affairs are frequently absent from

European elections, they are typically even less significant in

national elections (Katz, 2001: 56). As a result, it is easy for policy

makers to conceal faults and difficult

if not impossible


voters to identify which power holders should be held accountable,

and for what. In fact, as was demonstrated by a recent legal dispute