“European Governance“, or “Governmentality“? reflections on the EU‘s system of government

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Series Details No 3, 2009
Publication Date 2009
ISSN 1756-7556
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This paper offers a critical exploration of the term ‘governance’, its rise to prominence within EU political
discourse, and the new forms of authority and expertise it has come to be associated with within the EU’s
evolving political regime. Its argues that a critical understanding of EU governance might be advanced if
scholars look beyond the conventional political science literature (where governance is often ontologized
as that form of politics and authority which reflects the social reality of administering complex societies),
and interpret it instead in terms of recent debates about neoliberal governmentality. I ask, what does the
Commission’s appropriation of this ambiguous concept reveal about the way EU politicians, experts and
policy makers are re-conceptualising Europe and the problem of European government?
Drawing on insights from critical discourse analysis, sociology and anthropology (including my own ethnographic fieldwork among EU officials in Brussels), I examine the different meanings and uses of the term ‘European governance’ and the normative assumptions that underpin its use in the EU context.These arguments are subsequently developed through a critical examination of the Commission’s Green Paper on the Future of Parliamentary Democracy and the Commission’s advocacy for the Open Method
of Coordination, which, I suggest, is not as open, inclusive or democratic as its rhetoric suggests. I
conclude that European governance should be interpreted as an ideological keyword and form of advanced liberal governmentality, one that simultaneously promotes a technocratic style of steering and managing while concealing the way power and decision-making are increasingly being exercised in nontransparent
ways by networks of European elites based around the EU’s institutions

Source Link http://www.bath.ac.uk/esml/conWEB/Conweb%20papers-filestore/conweb%203_2009.pdf
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