The European Commission's E-Government Initiatives and Public Participation

The European Commission's E-Government Initiatives and Public Participation

C. Hunold
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch116
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According to the European Commission (2003), increased networking of local, regional, and national administrations across the European Union (EU) is creating “a more integrated ‘European public space’ for EU citizens and businesses” (p. 6). This emerging public space owes its existence chiefly to improvements in information and communication technology (ICT). The Commission (2002) believes that e-government initiatives will help to build a more robust European public space capable of engendering in the public’s mind a sense of democratic ownership of European institutions and policies: “E-government is helping to establish a more open, inclusive and productive public sector, in line with good governance” (p. 7). E-government as defined by the Commission (2005) as “the use of information and communication technologies, combined with organisational change and new skills, to improve public services, increase democratic participation and enhance public policy making.” Echoing the literature on e-democracy (Gibson, Rommele, & Ward, 2004), the Commission (2002) contends that e-government can improve EU democratic processes and public support for EU policies in two ways: by giving citizens greater access to information from authorities, which empowers citizens by improving the transparency and accountability of European institutions; and by fostering direct communication between citizens and policy makers, which enables improved mutual accommodation of needs and interests. This article analyzes Commission e-government initiatives, with special emphasis on the Consultation, the European Commission and Civil Society (CONECCS) directory, the interactive policy making (IPM) initiative, and the i2010: European Information Society 2010 initiative. IPM seeks to enable the Commission to collect feedback directly from citizens, consumers, and businesses via a single Internet access point for consultations (Your Voice in Europe). i2010 is a five-year strategy launched in 2005 to boost Europe’s digital economy and includes proposals to enhance e-participation in Europe’s emerging public space. Such proposals, I argue, will be more likely to succeed if the Commission were to move from managerial and consultative to participatory models of public involvement (Chadwick & May, 2003).

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