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The European Public Sphere

From Critical Thinking to Responsible Action

Series:

Luciano Morganti and Léonce Bekemans

The development of a fully fledged European Public Sphere is seen by many as the solution to the legitimation crisis the European Union is suffering today. It is conceived as a space in which a Europe-wide debate about the current economic, social and political crises can take place and through which solutions can be developed.
This book proposes a new multi-disciplinary approach to discuss the European Public Sphere, arguing that it should be approached as a complex and interlinking concept, considering issues such as identity, citizenship building and multi-level governance structures and actors, and that it should not be analysed merely from the traditional perspectives of information and communication policies.
The volume presents both academic papers and more policy-oriented contributions, offering perspectives from scholars, politicians, consultants and administrators to give the reader a truly multidisciplinary understanding of the European Public Sphere.

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PART 1: PRELIMINARY REFLECTIONS ON THE EUROPEAN PUBLIC SPHERE

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PART 1 PRELIMINARY REFLECTIONS ON THE EUROPEAN PUBLIC SPHERE 23 Public Sphere(s) and Space(s) in Europe1 Luc VAN DEN BRANDE President of the Committee of the Regions’ CIVEX Commission The Context When we address such important issues as European identity, culture or the emergence of the European Public Sphere, it is wise to address the issue of European governance; most notably multilevel governance. Therefore it is important not to have (only) a semantic discussion amongst academics, but to discuss its real virtues and practical conse- quences for the development and interaction of these key concepts, which are crucial to furthering EU integration. The European Union is facing extremely challenging times. Many of our democracies – both young and old – are under extreme pressure, including the European Union itself as a supranational identity. The difficulty is that its many multiple crises often require contradictory responses. Europe is suffering at the same time from a sovereign debt crisis, a banking crisis, a social crisis, a competitiveness crisis, a politi- cal crisis, a confidence crisis and even an identity crisis. EU leaders are actively searching for adequate solutions and much has been accomplished since the start of the crisis: greater budgetary surveillance through a new “Fiscal Compact Treaty”; higher liquid firepower though the new “European Stability Mechanism-Treaty”; the development of greater “European economic governance” through the new Eurozone Summit, the “Six-Pack” and the “Euro Plus Pact”; a new long term “Europe 2020 Strategy” with five headline targets for sustain- able, smart and...

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