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Participatory Democracy, Civil and Social dialogues

Cahier de la Solidarite n°5, Citizenship and participatory democratie, 2004

The introduction of the principle of participatory democracy in the first part of the European Constitution gave rise to a lot of debates concerning representative democracy and its limits, participatory democracy, democratic deficit, civil and social dialogues and the European social model. This paper will look at all these different concepts and will attempt to explain their meanings, their development, their functioning and to assess the importance of the new role assigned to them in the Constitution. It will start with participatory democracy and will emphasise the significance of this rather new concept to tackle the general crisis regarding the confidence that European citizens have in European institutions and processes and to reinforce representative democracy. Then it will explore European civil dialogue. It will define it, its actors and their role, will emphasise the importance of its institutionalisation in the new Constitution, will explain the expectations and fears of its actors regarding this institutionalisation and finally will briefly summarise
the debate about representativeness and legitimacy of civil society organisations. Following European civil dialogue, European social dialogue will be discussed. Its actors, its processes, its role in European governance, its benefits for the European Social model and the debate about representativeness and legitimacy of the social partners will be
explained. Later, there will be a brief look at the evolution of the European social model, its raison d’être and its main instruments followed by a short overview of the Open Method of coordination. This work will end with the role of the main European institutions especially regarding the democratic deficit of the European Union.