European civil society : an emerging agenda

Uzunçakmak, Şule Özge
European Union as a sui generis political system has become an attractive subject of inquiry especially within the last decade. By expanding into ever new areas of integration and by widening its competences, the Union has become a complex structure. As a result, the Union has started to be perceived as an entity remote from its citizens. Therefore the debate on the future of Europe has intensified and the legitimacy of the Union has started to be questioned. With this questioning process, the emphasis has begun to be put on creating new channels to reach the Union's citizens. inWithin this context, the literature has focused on the importance of a European civil society. The desire to establish a deeper European political integration by constructing a European public space has made the "European civil society" a popular concept. On the other hand, the community institutions have also started to introduce policies to increase the role of civil society in order to close the gap between the Union and its citizens. In this respect, it can be argued that this process has been intensified after the publication of White Paper on European Governance. In the White Paper, the Commission has underlined the significance of a European civil society to strengthen the.ties between the citizens and the EU. Then, a further step was taken by the Convention on the Future of the European Union. With the Convention, for the first time citizens and their representatives participated in the decision-making concerning the future shape of the Union. This is an important departure from the past and an essential step in the direction of a public debate on the prospective characteristics of European governance and democracy. This debate has raised interesting questions about the relationship between democracy, subsidiarity, efficiency and governance. Within this context, the purpose of this thesis is to analyze whether the development of an organized European civil society, which gains prominence by forms of governance developed by the EU, is perceived as a part of the solution to get the Union closer to its citizens. In this respect, the question of to what extent the European civil society is perceived as an arena, where EU citizens can exercise their rights beyond the nation-state will be discussed. In addition, different attitudes of the community institutions concerning European civil society will be also examined.


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Citation Formats
Ş. Ö. Uzunçakmak, “European civil society : an emerging agenda,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2003.