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Transnational deliberative democracy in the context of the European Union: The institutionalisation of the European Integration Forum

Keywords: deliberative democracy , diversity/homogeneity , discourse , minorities , immigration policy , civil society , European Public Sphere , accountability , European Commission

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Deliberative democracy is increasingly discussed in relation to the transnational sphere in terms of promoting democratic mechanisms of representation and participation. The establishment of the European Integration Forum (EIF) represents an effort to apply deliberation to the field of integration policies at the EU level. The EIF combines an original structure consisting of civil society actors and EU institutions, on the one hand, and national and European organisations, on the other. In this article, the institutional and discursive dimensions of the EIF are discussed. The institutional dimension refers to the benefits of the deliberative model for inclusive policy making and it is argued that it is particularly useful for incorporating immigrant voices in consultative processes. The discursive dimension relates to the articulation of a common European discourse on integration within the already existing EU framework. Discourses of contestation emanating from civil society are constrained especially in relation to the identification of a sole target group of integration policies, namely third-country nationals. The deliberative approach of the EIF is efficient in its institutionalisation through the inclusion of multiple civil society actors, but its discursive potential in terms of reflecting a heterogeneity of viewpoints and the capacity for generating contestation are reduced.


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