The Limits of a Deliberative Cosmopolitanism: The Case of ‘New Governance’ in the EU

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This paper illuminates the limits of a cosmopolitan deliberative governance via an analysis of EU practices and theories of ‘governance’. Analysing the European Commission’s 2001 White Paper and the various proposals for ‘new governance’ produced by its in-house think-tank, the Forward Studies Unit (FSU), in the late 1990s, it detects in these texts a Habermasian discourse ethic, which has informed much contemporary social, legal and political theorising on governance and deliberative democracy. In these reports an open, pluralist and procedural rationality and practice of governance is advocated as third-way between state and market. However, the implicit conditions required for consensus or learning are constitutive of important closures. Turning to recent practice, the EU’s ‘Open Method of Co-ordination’ (OMC) while ostensibly embodying an inclusive procedural rationality, is significantly circumscribed by an extant market constitution which excludes certain forms of welfare or social policy. More generally, it is suggested that advocates of a deliberative post-national governance fail to scrutinise the ways in which their key agent, civil society, has been intimately connected with dominant governing rationalities such as those which privilege the market, both historically and contemporaneously.