Unboxing the Conference on the Future of Europe and its Democratic Raison-d’Être
European Law Journal, Forthcoming
34 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2021 Last revised: 28 Dec 2021
Date Written: December 16, 2021
This article offers a detailed examination of the democratic raison d’être of the Conference of the Future of Europe, by situating this initiative within past attempts at reforming the Union while unpacking its experimental participatory architecture. After rehearsing the standard account of its genesis, the article frames the Conference as an attempt at creating a new, yet temporary, transnational opportunity structure for participatory deliberation capable of compensating for the lack of a genuine, pan-EU political and media space. While it would be naïve political solutionism to expect that this ad hoc deliberative initiative could magically address the EU democratic malaise, the Conference on the Future of Europe marks the first explicit admission that they – not the Member States or the EU institutions – are the EU’s ultimate source of authority and legitimacy. Whether and how such an admission may translate into some permanent increase in citizens’ control of EU constitutional development - through inter alia the institutionalisation of a European Citizens' Panel - remains to be seen. Yet, for once that Europe’s democratic genie is out, it will be difficult to put it back in the bottle.
Keywords: Political Equality, Consultation, Participation, Democracy, Open Government, Transparency, Participation, Conference on the Future of Europe, European Union, Mini-public, Deliberative democracy, Legitimacy, Accountability, Civil Society, Participatory democracy
JEL Classification: K19, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation