Deliberation between citizens is essential to the democratic process, whether through representation, or by means of more “direct” or “participative” approaches. When it comes to the European Union, a formula for cross-border deliberation has yet to be evolved. With this in mind, new approaches to “civic dialogue” have been developed. However, even these innovative approaches do not offer any guarantee as to the quality of public debate. Does it, on the basis of accessible and balanced information, enable the broadest and most diverse cross-section of citizens to form and express a personal opinion?
Paying particular attention to the debates surrounding the 29 May 2005 French referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty, this paper proposes:
To identify the short-comings of traditional as well as innovative approaches to debating;
To outline the features which would make for improved public debate, an;
To signpost lines of enquiries regarding research and action in this field.