Integration, Diversity and the Making of a European Public Sphere
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Integration, Diversity and the Making of a European Public Sphere

Edited by Hakan G. Sicakkan

Based on an extended agonistic pluralism perspective, this book offers a novel notion of a transnational public sphere that goes beyond the questions of whether a European public sphere exists or is possible and instead provides a solid understanding of its key features.
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Chapter 7: Protection, participation and legitimacy: the European Union’s public consultation system and ethnic and national minorities

Jan H. van de Beek and Floris Vermeulen


This chapter investigates the current state of the EU consultation system vis-à-vis (organizations of) ethnic and national minorities. First, the EU’s objectives concerning its consultation system are mapped, followed by an assessment of the discrepancy between these objectives and what minority organizations want. The following minority groups are considered: regional national minorities, Roma, Jews, Muslim immigrants and non-religious immigrants. Mainstream political parties are used as a control group. Large differences between groups are found in the degree of institutionalization of the EU consultation system, which is most developed for national regional minorities and Roma, and least for non-religious immigrants, where Jews have a proactive attitude and consultation of Muslim immigrants is increasing. Seen from the perspective of the ethnic groups, consultation is driven by the wish to participate (regional national minorities), protect religious rights (Jews, Muslim immigrants), influence EU foreign policy (Jews) and seek protection against discrimination (Roma). Seen from the perspective of EU institutions, gaining legitimacy (through being more representative and protecting minority rights) is the driving force, though the EU is not very successful in this respect.

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