RECONNECT is driven by the desire to understand the causes of the EU’s legitimacy crisis and to find innovative and effective ways of reconnecting European governance to EU citizens. The project does so by focusing on two central pillars of the EU’s authority and legitimacy: democracy and the rule of law. On which principles are they founded? How do the practices of institutions in the EU and across the Member States measure up to those principles? Mismatches between these principles and their practical application are likely to point us towards the source of challenges to the EU’s legitimacy. However, what defines RECONNECT’s approach is the focus on EU citizens and their views on democracy and the rule of law in the EU. Today’s Union is seen as incapable of turning citizens’ aspirations into reality. RECONNECT’s citizen-centered approach is aimed at providing the EU with the necessary tools to become more attuned to the expectations of its citizens. The key to this may be grounding the EU more firmly in the fundamental values of solidarity and justice: solidarity, in order to enhance mutual trust across European societies; and justice, based on the fairness of democratic processes and rule of law mechanisms.
RECONNECT aims at understanding and explaining the EU’s legitimacy crisis, by focusing on the mismatches between the Union’s democratic and rule of law principles and the practices of institutions, as well as on how these are viewed by EU citizens. This citizen-centered approach will shape the analysis of four key policy areas: economic and fiscal governance, counter-terrorism, trade and migration.
RECONNECT will provide solutions in the form of new policies that are citizen-focused and consistent with the EU’s principles, more effective and inclusive communications tools, and proposals for Treaty changes, thereby going to the root of the Union’s shortcomings. The aim is to enhance the EU’s legitimacy by ensuring convergence among EU and national principles, institutional practices and citizens’ perceptions and expectations when it comes to democracy and the rule of law.
The ultimate goal of RECONNECT is to create a new narrative for Europe that brings together the project’s findings and expresses a collective vision for the EU’s future, bridging the divide between citizens and the Union. This narrative will seek to inspire and shape future debates on the European integration project.