RECON Online Working Paper 2009/07

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Civil Society and EU Constitution-Making

Towards a European Social Constituency?


Hans-Jörg Trenz (ARENA, University of Oslo)
Nadine Bernhard (WZB – Social Science Research Center, Berlin)
Erik Jentges (Humboldt University, Berlin)



The EU constitutional process has ascribed a new role to civil society not only as a partner in governance but also as a constituent of the emerging EU polity. Civil society appears in this process primarily as the structure of voice that is articulated in relation to EU governance and that claims to represent European citizens. The article proposes an analytical framework and a methodology of how to analyze civil society as ‘social constituency’. The research agenda is linked to the intermediary and the representative function of organised civil society as a transmission belt of legitimatory discourse on the EU. In order to reconstruct how interests, identities and normative ideas relating to the legitimacy of an EU constitutional order are contested within national politics, our research draws on a survey of German civil society organisations in three sectors: a) consumer interest organisations, b) churches and religious organisations, and c) gender equality groups.


Civil Society – Constitution Building – Discourse – Germany – Governance – Legitimacy – Polity-Building – Treaty Reform

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