Table of Contents

Civil Society and Legitimate European Governance

Civil Society and Legitimate European Governance

Edited by Stijn Smismans

This book explores the concept of ‘civil society’, which over recent years has been revived and introduced into the institutional debate within the EU. Significantly, EU institutions themselves have made reference to civil society and, on an academic plane, it has been argued that the debate on the legitimacy of European governance should value the role of civil society organisations.

Chapter 11: Inventing the People: Civil Society Participation and the Enhabitation of the EU

Laura Cram

Subjects: law - academic, european law


Laura Cram The political world of make-believe mingles with the real world in strange ways, for the make-believe world may often mold the real one. In order to be viable, in order to serve its purpose, whatever that purpose may be, a fiction must bear some resemblance to fact. If it strays too far from fact, the willing suspension of disbelief collapses. And conversely it may collapse if it strays too far from the fiction that we want them to resemble. Because fictions are necessary, because we cannot live without them, we often take pains to prevent their collapse by moving the facts to fit the fiction, by making our world conform more closely to what we want it to be. We sometimes call it. Quite appropriately, reform or reformation, when the fiction takes command and reshapes reality. (Morgan 1989: 14) INTRODUCTION The central thrust of this chapter is that one of the most interesting features of the involvement of civil society in EU level activities and structures is the implication it has for the creation of a ‘people’ for the EU. The increasing involvement of civil society actors at the EU level has been encouraged in large part by a self-interested ‘fiction’1 developed by, for example, the Commission and EESC2 (see, for example, Smismans 2003) concerning the relationship between civil society involvement at EU level and participatory democracy. Drawing upon empirical evidence as well as insights from the literature on the role of the state in facilitating the process...

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