Developing a European Polity: the case for governance on the Internet at the European Level

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Developing a European Polity: the case for governance on the Internet at the European Level

Summary by EURACTIV

  • ‘Government’ refers to the institutions, ‘governance’ refers to how actors in a certain political setting interact;
  • There are three roles for ICT in network governance, whereby technology should never be taken as panacea or presented as a solution itself, but as a tool:
    • Networks: not about laying down cables as much as it is in getting social and political networks of people to actually use the Internet to complmeent their face-to-face meetings and coordinate opinions across Europe;
    • Responsiveness: when debates are centred upon issues concerning specific issues, the people involved at policy level must be willing and able to provide responses to interested bodies. Also, to take advantage of the essence of responsiveness, feedback is required and no simple technological fix is available for this;
    • Dissemination: the ability to use different channels to enable full dissemination of information to different actors in society will also allow interested persons to provide commentary on issues of interest to their interest groups.
  • So far, there has been no coherent use of ICT tools to provide the user with any understanding of how ICT and network governance are being used in the EU;
  • There is a tendency to rely upon technology to solve problems in inefficient government, thus providing a general response to the increasingly perceived ‘democratic deficit’;
  • The need for understanding the relationship between ICT and new ways of thinking about governance are equally as important as implementing new interfaces for governments and citizens to interact online;
  • On access, people generally think of giving users access to infrastructures and institutions, but it is more about whom they can contact within the new forms of networks;
  • The effectiveness of input from an actor is not only related to whether this opinion actually results in any concrete decision, but that an actor understands why that decision was made;
  • The promise of Internet cannot be fulfilled if certain criteria in other areas of governance are not met.

Full article:Developing a European Polity: the case for governance on the Internet at the European Level(MERIT-Infonomics 2002 Research Memoranda, 2002-007);  

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