From National to International Linkages
Edited by William A. Maloney and Jan W. van Deth
Chapter 1: Introduction: From Bottom-up and Top-down Towards Multi-level Governance in Europe
Jan W. van Deth and William A. Maloney As every small-town politician knows, strengthening democratic decisionmaking processes is not an easy matter – most citizens are hard to motivate to engage in public policy debates. And as every small-town politician or local political entrepreneur knows, most citizens are also unwilling to engage actively in the formal or institutionalised political life of their communities. On both counts citizens can ﬁnd better things to do with their time. Simultaneously however, there are a wide variety of groups and associations actively seeking to advance their speciﬁc interests. When we look to more complex political systems like major cities, regions, states and national states we ﬁnd these polities are ‘plagued’ by the virtually unsolvable problems and dilemmas that come with any serious attempt to base political decisions on the active engagement of citizens and citizens’ organisations. Finally, if we travel one further political level to the multi-layer system of the European Union (EU) – the central focus of this volume – then ﬁnding a solution looks like a ‘lost cause’ before we have even truly begun our search. Put simply and logically, the more numerous the governmental tiers, the further decision-making processes are from citizens, the weaker their potential inﬂuence and the smaller the ‘incentives’ to participate.1 Given the above, how does the EU seek to involve citizens more fully and to increase identiﬁcation with its political institutions? How does the EU seek to improve the transparency, legitimacy and accountability of decision-making procedures? These...