Studies in EU Reform and Enlargement series
Edited by Dieter Fuchs and Hans-Dieter Klingemann
Chapter 6: Deliberation and the Process of Identity Formation: Civil Society Organizations and Constitution Making in the EU
Julia De Clerck-Sachsse 6.1 Introduction The Convention on the Future of Europe, for some the EU’s very own Philadelphia, poses a certain paradox: hailed as a more democratic and open process and dedicated (at least in words) to reaching out to Europe’s citizens, it left people across the Union either unaware of, equivocal about, or even opposed to its work.1 Rather than fostering a sense of belonging among EU citizens and giving them a text with which to identify, the constitutional impasse after negative referenda in France, the Netherlands and Ireland plunged the Union into an identity crisis. Even today, as the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified, some key questions about the Union’s finalité remain: What does the EU stand for? Where is it going? And how will its citizens live together? In this context, debates about a European identity are as salient as ever. Ironically, the constitutional project which provoked this public crisis of confidence was designed to harness popular support and to give the EU a more legitimate basis by revisiting key institutional questions, making the design of the European project more transparent and providing an underlying normative narrative to guide further integration. The process of treaty revision was treated as an explicit effort at constitution making and great emphasis was placed on public participation from the inception of the process.2 In order to achieve this, special initiatives were designed to involve civil society and the Convention’s proceedings were made accessible to the public. The Convention was to...
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