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HomeGeopolitical CompassEurope, Russia, OceaniaThe European Union as a Christian Democracy: A Heuristic Approach

The European Union as a Christian Democracy: A Heuristic Approach

Authors: Carlo Invernizzi Accetti

Affiliation: City University of New York (City College, New York)

Organization/Publisher: Journal of European Public Policy

Date/Place: June 2020/ the UK 

Type of Literature: Academic Journal article

Number of Pages: 32



Keywords: European Union, Christian Democracy, Social Market Economy, Religion, Politics, Subsidiarity




This article argues that the European Union is best described as an institutional framework whose governing ideas and concepts are driven by Christian Democratic ideology. The author traces four main concepts that have been sedimented into the European Union: 1) subsidiarity, 2) constrained democracy, 3) social market economy and 4) religious inspiration of politics. Taken together these concepts show how the European Union was a Pan-Christian project of bringing Europe together on shared values after World War II. Subsidiarity is a concept that mediates the relationship between the central authority and its respective sub-units. European constitutional arrangement believes in subsidiarity or the idea that issues should be resolved as close to the local as possible before moving to a higher level of centralization. This puts more authority in the hands of local actors. Christian Democrats also wanted to make sure that democracy was curtailed by requiring supermajorities in order to pass rulings. This made a weak parliamentary structure and central authority. They also did not favor socialism so they struck a balance between socialism and capitalism by pushing for what is termed a social market economy. Lastly, the article demonstrates the Christian bias within Europe. Europe is designed to be a “Christian Club” as it acknowledges its Christian heritage and tradition. In all instances where the union had to hold back state infringement upon religion, the Union ruled in favor of the Christian clergy against the state. In the case of Islam however, the Union ruled in favor of the state’s power over religion. These four ideological characteristics on display in the Union’s framework solidify the enduring legacy of Christian Democracy on the EU. The future of Christian Democratic ideology is starting to wane as Euro-skeptics and far-right groups in Europe begin to take hold. However, the author argues that fundamental aspects of its institutional framework, as hallow as it may become, is strong as ever and will remain a permanent feature of the Union’s future.


By: Üveys Han, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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