Elizabeth Monaghan


The European Commission’s new ‘communication strategy’ has been presented as a radically new way of bridging the gap between the citizens of the member states and the European Union (EU) institutions. However it should also be seen as the latest in a long line of attempts to solve the problems of democratic legitimacy from which the EU is said to suffer. The rhetoric of the strategy is infused with highly commendable objectives and desirable principles stating how effective communication can help the EU connect more closely with citizens, and calling upon all relevant stakeholders – specifically civil society – to contribute to this project. Democratic theories of civil society provide support for the idea that civil society can play a linkage role between citizens and political structures. But empirical research on processes of interest representation in the EU casts doubt on whether organisations purporting to represent various strands within European civil society are able and willing to help bring citizens and the EU closer together. Turning the empirical focus to the organisations themselves it becomes apparent that simply invoking civil society involvement in ‘communicating Europe’ is not a sufficient guarantee of success. Instead, the nature of the communication activities, the characteristics of the organisations in question, and the issue of funding all have implications for the role of civil society in communicating Europe.


Article Keywords

Civil society, communication, legitimate governance, commission

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