How Memoranda of Understanding Have Affected EU Democratic Institutions in Southern EU Countries

Anastasia Chr. Lekka


The recent recession having emerged in 2007 has been the worst economic downturn since the time of Great Depression of 1929 in USA and spread across the European continent. In many European countries this led to severe sovereign debt crisis beginning in 2010 and was followed by implementation of austerity measures with significant impact on public, social and employment sector. Those tough austerity measures resulted in structural reforms of welfare and labor market especially in Southern EU countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy representing the most prominent examples. These policies were imposed to a large extend through the so called “Troika” which was an interaction between internal EU and external Organizations, like the European Union, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund respectively.

Citizens realize that their national economic institutions are no longer responsible for the decision making on major social and economic policies, on economic and welfare policies, on privatization and sale of public assets. Consequently, citizens tend to question if this constrained democracy deserves further support. This is enhanced by the fact that National Parliaments no longer develop policies but rather align with policies dictated by the above stated Institutions and are forced to accept such deals without asking the opinion of citizens. Nevertheless the EU intends to promote civil society participation in decision making and program policies applied. This contradiction needs to be analyzed in order to determine if there is a democratic deficit in EU member states.  

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