chapter  7
31 Pages

Civil society, public sphere and democracy in the EU

ByUlrike Liebert

Introduction A decade after the 2001 Laeken Declaration’s roadmap for a more democratic and efficient European Union (EU), initial optimism appears to have been replaced with a greater pessimism in EU scholarship.1 Ideas about strengthening the EU’s supranational democratic legitimacy by injecting public deliberation and political participation into the EU constitution have lost out to doubts about the viability of a democratic constitution for the EU (see Graf Kielmansegg 1996; Grimm 1995; Scharpf 1999; see also Chapter 4).2 Ordinary people allegedly stick to their nation state frames of reference as the main locus of interest, notably pertaining to domestic social welfare benefits, and arguably fail to engage with an international entity as distant and abstract as the EU (Moravcsik 2006; Shapiro and Hacker-Cordón 1999). Taking issue with this liberal intergovernmental account, the ‘postfunctionalist’ view underscores the politicisation of European integration in elections and referendums and how it contributes to the erosion of the mass public ‘permissive consensus’, but points to the mobilisation of identities that give rise to a ‘constraining dissensus’ regarding the jurisdictional architecture of the EU (Hooghe and Marks 2008). By contrast, empirical Europeanisation highlight to the emergence of Europeanised identities and a European public sphere with far reaching effects for the deepening and widening of European integration and, namely, for democracy (Risse 2010: 177ff ).