Developing a European Polity: the case for governance on the Internet at the European Level
AbstractIssues of European governance are currently at the fore of the debate on Europe’sfuture. Deliberations on the White Paper, which has recently been released (July 25,2001), have been encouraging and have reaffirmed the status of governance at theEuropean level to be a worthwhile subject of discussion. European politicaldevelopments, in the widest and deepest senses, have both necessitated andaccelerated this debate. However, the fact remains that Europe’s citizens still considera well-defined European polity to be a distant, and sometimes undesirable, aim.What is evidently missing from the Governance White Paper is a clearly definedpolicy regarding the impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Itis not enough to say that eGovernment is a priority issue for eEurope. Europeangovernance in this context is about a more democratic and accountable set ofEuropean institutions, and one way of encouraging this is to bring the citizen closer tothe multiple levels of decision-making institutions. ICT can have a key role to play inthis instance, and this paper will discuss the possible future of electronicdemocratization processes in the European institutions, as opposed to theestablishment of ‘electronic democracy’.Three roles for ICT will be extracted from the current debates upon electronicdemocratisation:•Networks (of people and institutions),•Responsiveness (to participation), and•Dissemination (of information).Whilst the technology can be seen as supportive, there is also the tendency to relyupon the technology to solve problems of inefficient government – and thus provide ageneral response to the increasingly perceived ‘democratic deficit’. The paper willstart to describe the link between technologically-mediated innovations in politicalpractice and the impact these have on the process of democracy in the EuropeanUnion.The paper will state that attempts to improve efficiency in current administrations donot go far enough in helping with the development of governance at the Europeanlevel. If development of the European political space is seen as desirable, then the roleof ICT is one that should be carefully considered as an potential enabler and not apanacea.Fora such as those facilitated by new ICT provide an attractive way to unite Europeanactors. These fora have the likely effect of not only reducing the democratic deficitthrough more defined information channels, but also have the potential to encouragegreater involvement. This in turn, may lead to legitimation of the European polity.How this is to be done in the context of a unique European framework is still notclearly defined, and whilst the democratic deficit is clearly a problem for Europeaninstitutions, the broader question of the nature of the European Union (super-state orintergovernmental organization) is still not entirely answered.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Maastricht : MERIT, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology in its series Research Memoranda with number 008.
Date of creation: 2002
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This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2003-02-24 (All new papers)
- NEP-COM-2003-02-24 (Industrial Competition)
- NEP-EEC-2003-02-24 (European Economics)
- NEP-NET-2003-02-24 (Network Economics)
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