The democratic deficit is a concept invoked principally in the argument that the European Union and its various bodies suffer from a lack of democracy and seem inaccessible to the ordinary citizen because their method of operating is so complex.
At every stage of the European integration process, the question of democratic legitimacy has become increasingly sensitive. The Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice Treaties contributed to improving the democratic legitimacy of the institutional system by reinforcing the powers of Parliament with regard to the appointment and control of the Commission and successively extending the scope of the codecision procedure.
The Treaty of Lisbon continues in the same vein. On the one hand, it strengthens the powers of the European Parliament on legislative and budgetary matters and enables it to carry out more effective political control of the European Commission through the procedure of appointing the President of the Commission. On the other hand, it strives to increase citizen participation in the democratic life of the Union by creating a citizens’ right of initiative and by recognizing the importance of dialogue between the European institutions and civil society.
Furthermore, the Treaty provides that the sessions of the Council of Ministers will henceforth be made public in order to promote transparency and information for European citizens.