DELIBERATIVE FORA AND EUROPEAN INTEGRATION: WHAT CAN EUROPE LEARN FROM THE IRISH EXPERIENCE?

in Europeanisation and Hibernicisation
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Abstract

The ‘democratic deficit’ from which the EU is believed to suffer may be addressed via the reform of political institutions at national level – namely, the introduction of deliberative fora, made up of the political elite and representatives of civil society, whose remit is the considered discussion of issues relating to EU integration. Such a forum – the National Forum on Europe – was established in Ireland in the wake of the rejection of the Nice Treaty in 2001. This paper examines the extent to which the Forum engaged with ordinary citizens and was not merely ‘a talking shop’ for the political elite. Based on interviews with representatives of the participating civil society groups and examination of the print media coverage of the Forum we conclude that the Forum was moderately successful in engaging with the wider Irish population. Hence, the Forum may act as a model which Ireland’s European neighbours may wish to adopt or adapt in order to foster popular participation in deliberation on matters relating to the EU and the integration process.

Europeanisation and Hibernicisation

Ireland and Europe

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