A member of the European Parliament is reported to have said on the occasion of the presentation of the Commission's White Paper on Governance,1 that, given the result, he regretted that trees had had to die to produce it. This seems to go too far. The White Paper has initiated a necessary process of discussion. If one has to assess the quality of the White Paper, it is natural, however, that, rather than to stress the positive aspects of the outcome, the problematic or negative points are highlighted. Consequently, the following analysis will put emphasis on the "critical" aspects, but nonetheless tries to present a constructive and coherent analysis that might serve as a starting point for further reflections upon the subject.
Even at first glance, the White Paper presents itself as an exceedingly technocratic piece of work written for an expert of Community law and organisation, but not for the Union citizen. The very technical language in itself is enough to deter the ordinary reader. Yet, it is, indeed, a technocratic achievement which presents an elaborate analysis of the present situation and working of the community. It does not, however, devote any space to developing concepts to overcome the widely recognised legitimacy problems of the Union. A possible way to alleviate this legitimacy crisis and indeed create a real European discourse could lie in the politicisation of the Union. This would lead, even within the present framework of the treaties, to a better involvement of the Union-Citizens, who are, as the White Paper rightly points out, at the centre of the European project. The central thesis of this paper is, therefore, the allegation that the White Paper does not recognise the need to politicise the Union. The lack of politicisation is at least as important for the analysis of the Union's problems as the widely bemoaned "democratic deficit".
In order to develop this argument, the way civil society is portrayed in the White Paper is analysed first (II). Then, the paper will highlight the omission of political parties as a part of civil society (III). It will go on to propose a new discourse-oriented approach to the Community Method, examining some of the White Paper's propositions in the light of their contribution to this aim (IV). This will be presented as a central precondition for multilevel constitutionalism, a model able to offer a good analytical tool to conceptualise the Union and its Member States (V).
1 Com (2001) 428 final.