Participatory Mechanisms as Symbolic Policy Instruments?
Comparative European Politics
BOUSSAGUET Laurie - Centre d'études européennes et de politique comparée (Author)
GB : Palgrave Macmillan
107 - 124 p.
Participatory governance, Participatory democracy, European citizens’ initiative (ECI), Democratic deficit
Over the last 10 years, the European Union has been talking a lot about citizens’ participation, not least in its 2001 white paper on governance. But has there really been a participatory turn in the European political system, or is this simply a rhetorical change, without concrete implications? This article aims to answer the question on the basis of a research on the first participatory experiments conducted at the European level (citizens’ conferences, deliberative polls and consultations of citizens) and on European citizens’ initiative introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. As will be shown, such experiments or tools have been scarcely used, and they have failed to involve ‘ordinary’ citizens and to produce significant outputs. In short, they seem more important at the discursive level than in practice. This suggests that more attention should be given to the symbolic dimension of policy instruments.