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Editorial


When reading the comments made immediately after the deadly blow delivered by the French and the Dutch to the project of a constitutional treaty, the issue concerning the relationship between European institutions and citizens emerges as one of the very few elements of certainty and large consensus. I realize that this statement concerning the referendum does not hold much ground; but in a case like this, looking at things more closely can be useful.

When reading the comments made immediately after the deadly blow delivered by the French and the Dutch to the project of a constitutional treaty, the issue concerning the relationship between European institutions and citizens emerges as one of the very few elements of certainty and large consensus. I realize that this statement concerning the referendum does not hold much ground; but in a case like this, looking at things more closely can be useful.

 

The hidden side of the question lies in that the idea of giving Europe a constitution arises from the desire to reduce the gap between citizens and community institutions, at least partly making up the “democratic deficit” of the Union. It was a sensible project, as it addressed an objective condition of contemporary national democracies, characterized by the representation crisis of political systems and less leadership legitimatization, a deficit in state efficacy, the concomitance of globalization and localization, the multiplication of identity and belonging principles of individuals in society. The European Union is not the cause of all of this, like Euro skeptics say knowing that they are lying, but it is an attempt to respond to this; maybe the only attempt that so far has made decent headway. One cannot ignore that the European Union, though being constitutively a market and therefore being a non standard political institution, has: introduced the first transnational citizenship in the contemporary world, spread regulations and a culture of consumer rights adjusting legislation and national customs accordingly, assumed the responsibility of defending fundamental rights within its territory, recognized non government organizations as partners before and usually more seriously than national states. Nor can one deny that, in spite of jurists saying that a European people does not exist, five decades of community institutions have eased (not certainly created) the construction of a civil European society presently in place. All of this existed before the constitutional treaty and will continue to exist even if the structure of the Union goes back to that established in Nice in December 2000.

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