In Defence of the Civic: The search for a European res publica

This paper makes the case for pushing Europe towards a res publica - that is, a polity in which citizens take part as lawmakers in the development of the European project. It is argued that the Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice have failed at this point, by focusing on management rather than the development a common-European public space.

ARENA Working Paper 12/2001 (html)

Dimitris Chryssochoou

This article issues an invitation to institutionalise European 'civic competence': the capacity of European citizens qua social equals to be engaged in the emerging governance structures of the EU. It claims that a novel approach is needed to bridge the institutional and sociopsychological aspects of the EU's democratic pathology through the construction of a European civic space: to create and sustain a particular normative order for an independent source of legitimacy to emerge. In this context, it is argued that the Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice have failed to transform a shadowy political space into a purposeful res publica. Lacking both a departure of substance and a common democratic vision, these managerial types of reform have fallen short of bringing about a multi-level civic order able to navigate the normative orientations of European society through a principled public discourse, harness the deliberative potential of European citizens, and elevate them into a system-steering agency.

Tags: deliberative democracy, polity building, civil society, supranationalism
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM