In This Review

A Democratic Audit of the European Union
A Democratic Audit of the European Union
By Christopher Lord
Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, 270 pp

It is with great anticipation that one turns to a book that aims to carry out an "audit" of the European Union to find out just how democratic its institutions are and to determine what can be done to make up for any "democratic deficit," by making its institutions more responsive to the peoples of member states. Lord, the Jean Monnet Professor at the University of Leeds, cannot be accused of a lack of seriousness, but the scrupulousness of his methodology and the evenhandedness of his meticulous approach make for maddeningly difficult and inconclusive reading. Indeed, the final chapter warns against "sweeping generalizations for and against the existence of a democratic deficit." Amen. But although there is undoubtedly much wisdom in Lord's multiple findings, one wonders who, except other social scientists, will find the time to separate the really important ones from the others or, having read the book, the energy to do something about them. (This raises one further question: The EU is one of the few really inspiring political innovations of the last half-century, so why is the literature about it so often soporific?)