How severe a problem is what many call the 'democratic deficit' of the European Union? Despite a voluminous theoretical literature dealing with this question, there is hardly any systematic empirical investigation of the effectiveness of the system of political representation in the EU and of the legitimacy beliefs of EU citizens that spring from it. This volume elaborates a conceptual framework for the empirical analysis of the alleged
democratic deficit. Four dimensions of legitimacy beliefs are identified and analysed: the European political community, the scope of EU government, the institutions and processes of EU government, and EU
policies. Based upon large-scale representative surveys among the mass publics, and different strata of the political elite of the EU and its member-states, the book examines the conditions of political representation in the EU. The results demonstrate, by and large, that legitimacy beliefs of EU citizens are the more positive, the less specific the object of identification and evaluations is; and that the process of political representation works pretty well as long as
issues other than European Union issues are concerned. These findings are finally discussed in view of familiar strategies for institutional reform of the European Union.