09 Sep 2008

Closing the Community Deficit in the EU

Amitai Etzioni

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This paper argues that the main challenge currently facing the EU is a community deficit: the low valuation the majority of its citizens accord the evolving collectivity. To deal with this community deficit, the author, Amitai Etzioni, warns that the EU must either introduce strong measures of community building or else significantly scale back its plans for collective action.
He first cites illustrative data to show that there is a considerable level of disaffection from the EU project and the EU institutions and then turns to examine the first set of measures needed to reduce the strain on the EU by scaling back for the near future those provisions that alienate many citizens. He then introduces a second set of measures that are needed to build up citizens’ commitment to the EU, by fostering public dialogue, developing a common European media and language, and holding EU-wide election.
Amitai Etzioni was a professor of sociology at Columbia University for 20 years. He joined the Brookings Institution as a guest scholar in 1978 and then went on to serve as Senior Advisor to the White House on domestic affairs from 1979-1980. In 1980 he was named the first University Professor at The George Washington University, where he currently serves as the director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies. He leads the Communitarian Network, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.