Independent authorities and democracy. Let the experts rule?

The paper focuses on the issue of accountability of regulatory independent authorities. When the problems faced by society require long-term solutions, the ruling majority has little incentive to pursue policies whose effects will be visible after the next elections. Hence the delegation to independent authorities, allowed to elaborate policies ignoring electoral consensus and better equipped than politicians to act on the basis of expertise. Contrary to the courts and oversight authorities, who operate on the presumption that unrestricted majorities would infringe minorities rights, the legitimacy of independent authorities thus appears to be founded on functional reasons. However, delegating fundamental policies to unelected bodies sidelines parliaments, opening a legitimacy creep in democracy. By looking at accountability powers of EU national parliaments vis-à-vis regulatory authorities, the paper aims at identifying the most promising solutions to hold experts to account.