This essay proposes that the emergence and failure of the debate on the EU constitutional reform depends, amongst other things, on the rise of what it calls ‘publicity’ as public policy and governance function: the public management of communication aimed at creating public sphere, improving political communication, participation and trust, building consensus and legitimacy for a governance agency. Publicity originally emerged from the domain of public relations in corporate governance and bears some similarity with commercial marketing and political propaganda. By analysing the constitutional process, this essay provides a short genealogy of publicity within European governance: from publicity concerning specific institutions and epistemic communities, namely the courts and the jurists, to its gradual extension to the general public. Finally, the essay addresses the normative question, ‘What is to be done?’. What can we learn from the failure of the constitutional debate? Should Europe remain a matter of technicians and lobbyists, or should it strive toward becoming a democratic polity? In the latter case, how should Europe improve the quantity and quality of political communication within its public sphere?
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