Managing EU Hegemony and Legitimacy : An analysis of the discursive practices of the European Commission in relation to the rule of law in Poland

University essay from Lunds universitet/Europastudier

Abstract: Since December 2015, the European Commission (EC) has defended the juridical autonomy in Poland by initiating the so called ‘Rule of Law Framework’ against the member state. Although the EC possess legal grounds for taking such actions against Poland, the supranational authority of the Commission is questioned in terms of legitimacy towards national governments. The aim of this thesis is to analyse how the EC justify their legitimacy and authority towards member states through their discursive practices by using the situation in Poland as an example. The objective is realised through a ‘critical discourse analysis’ where documents concerning the EC’s actions against Poland are examined using the legitimation strategies developed by van Leeuwen. The findings are subsequently put in a wider perspective using Fairclough’s model, where the discursive practices are analysed in terms of effect on the general perception of EU as a legitimate supranational actor. The conclusions are that EU legitimacy, in this context, is highly dependent on the perception of the EC as a legitimate supranational actor towards national government, but as long as the democratic representation within the EU’s institutions are not sufficient, the EC will most likely have to keep defending the legitimacy and authority of the EU.

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