An Investigation of the Legitimacy Created by the ECI: A Case Study of Right2Water

Marie Rikardo Flyge

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis concerns itself with the European citizens ́ initiative. A novel transnational governance tool enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon. The thesis investigates whether theinstrument has resulted in a strengthened foundation of legitimacy for the European Union. To operationalize legitimacy, the thesis calls upon the conceptual typology of input and output legitimacy as developed by Scharpf ́snormative theory.Scharpfqualifies input legitimacy as ́rule bythe people ́ and output legitimacy as ́rule forthe people ́.The thesis performs a case study of the citizens ́ initiative Right2Water which was the first citizens ́ initiative to be submitted at the hands of the Commission. In doing so, the thesis is able to discuss the potentialsand the pitfalls for the ECI strengthening EUlegitimacy in the contextualized setting of Right2Water. The thesis determinesthatthe ECI has increased the input legitimacy of the Union by introducingan instrument of direct participatory democracyinto EU governance. Furthermore, the campaigning process of initiatives have fostered the development of a distinctly European public sphere. Hereby, the ECIhas bridgedthe emerging gap between EU citizens and EU institutions byempowering their self-governance. Using the terminology of Scharpf the ECI has increased ́rule bythe people ́. The thesis also determines that the ECI has struggled in transforming initiatives into actual legislative influence, due to alack of responsiveness bythe Commission. Here theadoption of the legislative proposal for a recast of the drinking water directiveon February 1, 2018represents a newfound hopefor turning public interests into authoritative decisions. However, as of March 2019 the ECI has not increased the output legitimacy of the Union since no legislative policy has been finalized as a result ofan ECI. Using the terminology of Scharpf, the ECIhas not increased the ́rule forthe people ́.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages87
SupervisorsMagali Gravier