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How could the European Citizens' Initiative (art. 11.4. TUE) contribute to the emergence of a European public sphere? On the citizens initiative as way to improve European civil society organisations' representativeness

Luis Bouza García

Although the literature on European civil society is very rich (see Greenwood 2007 and Kendall 2009 for a thorough review of the state of the art), little is still known about the actual links between the organisation of European civil society and the functioning of the EU as a democratic polity (Maloney and van Deth 2008: 4).In order to do this the paper analyses these organisations' collective action strategies and discourses concerning participatory democracy. The paper finds that the new Treaty article, and particularly its last section (11.4), have a strong potential to foster a 'democratic spill-over' of deliberation from specialists to the general public and thus contributing to the emergence of a European public sphere. The paper finds as well that together with the intrinsic difficulties to gather one million signatures across Europe, the major obstacles are a relative disinterest from well established civil society organisations and the inadequacy of the existing consultative structures to accommodate outsider organisations.The analysis points out one recommendation and one expectation. Firstly, the extent to which organisations consult their own members could be turned into a threshold criterion for their representativeness. Additionally, the paper expectation is that if outsider organisations start making successful usage of the European citizens' initiative, this can transform the relations of civil society organisations with their members.

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