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How could the new article 11 TEU contribute to reduce the EU’s democratic malaise?

Luis Bouza
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC
Luis Bouza
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC
Open Panel

Abstract

Building on data of a decade of debate on participatory innovation in the EU, the paper analyses the impact that the new article 11 TEU could have on the democratic life of the EU in particular by transforming the relations between the Commission and organized civil society. The paper finds that if adequately developed and managed by the Commission the new article 11 TUE and particularly its last section (11.4) has a strong potential to foster a ‘democratic spill-over’ of deliberation on EU matters from specialists to the general public and thus contribute to the emergence of a European public sphere. However, the paper points the existence of some threats that could make these instruments inefficacious or even counterproductive. Some of these threats are linked to the intrinsic difficulties of building participatory campaigns in Europe because of the linguistic, political and cultural diversity. A second kind are institutional obstacle: a tendency to reject initiatives will turn this instrument into an inefficient or at worse a counterproductive device worsening the image that EU institutions do not listen to citizens. Finally, the paper points as well a relatively unknown difficulty: a degree of disinterest for the citizens’ initiative from well established civil society organisations and the inadequacy of the existing consultative structures to accommodate outsider organisations. This is deepened by the lack of political will of the Commission for regulating the “civil dialogue” that the Treaty has recognised. In order to face these challenges, the paper recommends the Commission to present every successful initiative and not only those in agreement with its agenda and to make every necessary effort to attract participation beyond Brussels “usual suspects”.