Europe in Search of Its Civil Society
European Law Journal, Vol. 8, no. 2, p. 198-217 (2002)
20 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2014
Date Written: June 6, 2014
Building upon the experience of the Convention for the elaboration of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and upon the suggestions of the White Paper on European Governance, this article puts forward proposals for a better involvement of the 'civil society' in the system of the European Union. It offers a general diagnosis of the misunderstandings about the notion of 'civil society' and the relationship of representative democracy to participatory democracy. It then draws some lessons from the experiment in deliberative democracy which led to the drafting of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Finally, it focuses on the contribution the organisation of the civil society can make to improved governance in the EU. Altogether, the proposals presented tend to encourage a better structuration of the actors of civil society. Such a structuration, the article concludes, although it is usually seen with suspicion even by those whom it would most benefit, must be seen instead as a condition for the effective exercise of whichever participatory rights might be granted to civil society organisations.
Keywords: Deliberative democracy, Civil Society, Governance in the EU, Convention for the elaboration of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
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