vineri, 9 mai 2014

What about the European public space?

Often, in political discourse, people use big words and pompous phrases, which are often empty of content. However, some of those do need our attention - there are subjects which are more important than they look like. One such case is the "European public sphere" or "European public space".

This sphere, or space, is both generic and very specific: in Bucharest, for example, there is a "European Public Space (EPS)" managed by the European Commission Representation and the European Parliament Information Office. SPE is described as institutional, "a multifunctional space, open daily to the public, where visitors have access to official sources of information", also hosting various events, all in an effort to inform citizens about the European Union.

But the European public space is more than that. It is a much needed sphere of debate on our present and future as Europeans. The European public sphere is the best defence of the European system against populists: even as they engage, the European project must reinvent communication. But, like any public space, it must be animated by someone and politicians are not enough, we need passionate citizens, civil society and business sector involved as well.

Thus, this reinvention would not be pure veneer, but accompanied by proposals and actions that give people the feeling that "here, there is something". An important role in this context is the discussion about the transnational proposals. For example, British MEP Andrew Duff, already in 2010, called for an additional list of candidates for the European elections in 2014: a "transnational" list. The new formula would provide voters with two votes, one to designate national candidate and the other to choose a European candidate.

This would lead to a strong European public sphere, but with a quasi-elitist transnational component. I think the best process is the Europeanization of national public spheres, not adding a "new sphere", a European one, which would be unconnected to the existing national ones.

However, European integration should be a topic of daily discussion, not only one which takes place when the EP elections are happening.

Dan LUCA / Brussels

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