Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


1. Rhetoric and Type of Text

"White Papers are documents containing proposals for Community action in a specific area."1 This harmless definition on the Commission's homepage does not give much of an idea of the universal demand in the White Paper for Governance.2 Important White Papers such as the one for the completion of the internal market,3 always contained a clear element of programmatic Commission rhetoric. However, the charm in this rhetoric stemmed from the pathos of objectivity, from the Commission's expertise, and from the belief in the existence of a correct solution for a definable and, therefore, limitable problem-`in a certain area'. The Commission wanted to organize politically but, at the same time, work properly. The Commission's goal was policy, not politics.

The approach of this White Paper disengages itself from the single subject problems. This already results from the term `governance', which is to be studied even more closely and currently demands a different political rhetoric. In fact, the subtitle, `Deepening the Democracy in the European Union',4 reminds one of the party-political programme `Venture more Democracy' (Willy Brandt). Such language usage can be found throughout the entire White Paper: `include the citizens' (16), `better policy, better rules, and better results' (24), `better application in the Member States' (32). This demanding programme strangely contrasts, however, with the colourless administrative-scientific language, which the White Paper uses: `the strengthening of the administrative machinery of the joining countries is already a key topic of the pre-accession strategy and must be continued after joining' (32).

If the total claim of the governance topic demands a certain form of political journalism, then the White Paper does not just fall short in its style. The presentation on the internet already it proves to be a technocratic construction site: in a remarkable parallel to the European Treaties, with their complicated apparatus made of various appendices, the White Paper communicates the impression of being provisional. The preferences of online communication, which have been explicitly utilised by the Commission in many areas, has led here to a potentially unlimited reference structure, in which further subtexts and discussions are linked to the actual text, and, with their own extraneous statements, break up the project5-a possibly involuntary performative metaphor, implied in the White Paper, for the disintegration of joint governance practices in a civil-socialised discourse.

If one wants to spend a moment considering the metaphor, then he/she may establish the fact that the White Paper is a White Paper, not a Red Paper or a Black Paper. But white was the colour of Ludwig XVI's personal guard's cockade during the French Revolution, the colour of the Restoration, but, at the same time, the colour of the denial of the coming democratic system, which makes political dispute its most important component. This denial of a political conflict on its part cannot, however, be anything other than political. This connection, which will become obvious in what follows, reminds one, in fact, of the Commission's viewpoint. The White Paper has an appropriate place among the political colour symbolism.

If, on the one hand, the White Paper contains almost no references to the single policies of the community, it also does not limit itself, on the other, to administrative-technical problems such as the reform of the internal structure, which has already been entirely worked over/out/examined by the Commission.6 At the moment, it is supposed to deal with the totality, in whatever way this can be defined. Through this, the text places itself in an area beyond concrete policy, without wanting. or being able. to begin a real political conflict (politics). What is remains is a text that remains in no man's land, between political theory and a political programme.

Could the Commission not have also written a theoretical, informative pamphlet à la `What is the Third Estate' for the advancement of integration-maybe in the form of a booklet which could be passed out at schools and universities? Through this, it would have chosen a genre that would have met the serious need for a political catechism of European integration right at the moment of the introduction of the Euro. The White Paper would have been the opportunity to invent a political integration rhetoric and to help it to reach the interest of the general public. This opportunity was not taken up.

The conjecture of the following considerations is that the Commission had to fail the assignment that it gave itself in the White Paper on Governance. It could not solve the assignment without questioning its own functional understanding of itself. It did not do this. Consequently, from various points of view, the White Paper can be understood, in its result, as a self-contradicting document that is interlaced with the idea that the reflection on past achievements would be suitable to help it solve future assignments.

1, emphasis here.

2 KOM(2001) 428 endg. Numbers in parenthesis in the main text refer to this document.

3 KOM(85) 310 endg.

4 Work programme for white paper SEK(2000) 1547/7 endg.


6 The Reform of the Commission-a White Paper, KOM(2000) 200 endg.




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