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Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and Rule of Law (RECONNECT)


RECONNECT is a four-year multidisciplinary research project on ‘Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and the Rule of Law’, aimed at understanding and providing solutions to the recent challenges faced by the European Union (EU). With an explicit focus on strengthening the EU’s legitimacy through democracy and the rule of law, RECONNECT sought to build a new narrative for Europe, enabling the EU to become more attuned to the expectations of its citizens. RECONNECT brought together 18 academic partner institutions from 14 countries.

What were RECONNECT’s goals?

RECONNECT focused on the Union’s constitutive values of democracy and the rule of law. Firstly, it sought to evaluate the coherence within and between democracy and the rule of law, how they are interpreted and applied across the EU and its Member States, and how potential inconsistencies may affect legitimacy in the EU (principles and practices). Secondly, RECONNECT assessed the extent to which democracy and the rule of law failed to resonate with EU citizens, questioning how this may impact upon the legitimacy of the European project (perceptions). To address these questions:

RECONNECT aimed 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 shaped the analysis of four key policy areas: economic and fiscal governance, counter-terrorism, trade and migration.

RECONNECT provided 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 was 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 was 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 sought to inspire and shape future debates on the European integration project.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under Grant Agreement no. 770142.