TOWARDS THE EMERGENCE OF A PUBLIC SPHERE
The European Union finds itself in a serious legitimacy crisis. How can this crisis be overcome and where is or should the European Union be moving towards?
There are three distinct narratives – responses to this question.
- The first considers further – efficient and effective – integration to be possible only once a political integration framework has been agreed upon and put in place.
- The second narrative with regard to the EU legitimacy crisis emphasises the absence of a symbolically unifying European identity of Europeanness’ among EU citizens and sees the legitimacy deficit closely linked to an identity deficit. It might therefore be more sensible to concentrate any institutional reform efforts to rendering the EU an efficient expert-led international cooperation framework for making policy rather than politics.
- The third narrative links the legitimacy crisis to a democratic deficit.
In the current discourse these three narratives are seen as distinct. The EUROPUB project has tried to break with this tradition. The starting point of our analysis has been that there is indeed an organic link between the European Union’s legitimacy and democratic deficit but that this is not the problem alone of any specific institution, a set of institutional rules or any single level of analysis. Political institutions and rules (or the lack thereof) are to scrutinise equally like policy processes or citizens’ concerns and patterns of participation (or the lack thereof). Such an approach requires a robust theoretical (and normative) framework if it is to avoid spiralling into a naïve discourse of the ‘a bit of everything’ (and ultimately nothing) type. For us this is provided by the ‘model’ of a strong democracy as delineated by the notion of the public sphere and democratisation in advanced societies.
Article: Liana Giorgi, John Crowley & Steven Ney. 2001. Surveying the European Public Space – A Political and Research Agenda. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research Volume 14, Issue 1
Book Publications: Liana Giorgi, Ingmar von Homeyer, Wayne Parsons (eds.). 2007. Democracy in the European Union: Towards the Emergence of a Public Sphere. Routledge