One of the main objectives of the Founding Fathers of the European Union was to ensure peace between the Member States. This objective has been fulfilled up to now and has been awarded by the Nobel Peace Prize 2012. Initially, the cooperation between the Member States has been achieved by developing economic ties and eventually through the creation of the Single European Market. Today, a united and prosperous Europe goes well beyond economic relations. Especially, since the Maastricht Treaty (1991), Social Europe no longer revolves around the (economical) figure of the worker, but develops around the European citizen. In this prospect, people cannot only be seen as workers. A democratic perspective implies to cease citizenship in all its aspects. Consequently, the European institutions involved other actors than the social partners in the functioning of the European Union.
The aims of this paper are twofold: firstly, to identify the different dimensions of European participatory democracy; secondly, to show how the social partners must take into account organised civil society in areas, which fall traditionally under their competence, and how new European governance, the Open Method of Coordination, allows civil society to blossom.
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