Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law

Mountain or Molehill?
A Critical Appraisal of the Commission
White Paper on Governance


Christian Joerges, Yves Mény, Helen Wallace, J. H. H. Weiler

Reform is persistently on the agenda of the European Union (EU). As this volume goes to press, we can observe three simultaneous processes of change under way. Forms of evolutionary change continue to alter the practice of both policy and decision-making in the EU. Deliberate attempts at experimental change are being introduced into the way the EU works. And the Convention has just opened to canvass options for engineered changes to the treaties on which the EU is based. Each of these processes of change affects the others, making the EU a constant puzzle to understand and requiring both commentators and practitioners to re-examine their assumptions.

This collection of essays offers some provocative reflections on the ways in which 'governance' has apparently emerged as an organising concept for analysing this continuous process of change in the EU. The collection was itself prompted by the decision of the European Commission to open a debate on European Governance through the White Paper published in July 2001. In preparing this White Paper, the Commission invited one and all to join it in analysing both the ingredients of change and the possible remedies to improve the performance of the EU institutions. The agenda is a huge one, as the White Paper itself demonstrates, with its many and varied suggestions for reform. The agenda is also a controversial one, since there is no single predominant recipe. Moreover, there is no single diagnosis of what the ingredients of change are or what is the most appropriate way to mix them together.

It is all the more important, therefore, that we, in the academic community, should respond to the challenges put to us by the changing world of practice. Consequently, in assembling this collection we gave no guidelines to our contributors.

Thus, the resulting eclectic range of observations and provocations is offered herewith to further intellectual debate. The participants in this volume speak for themselves but also as members of a scholarly community with a very deep concern for our shared subject, namely, the quest for a process of European integration that works, that can generate worthwhile collective action, and that can grow stronger roots in the European societies in which it is grounded.

The launch pad for this collection was the European University Institute in Florence. Its realisation is the fruit of a continuing collaboration with the Jean Monnet Program at Harvard Law School and NYU School of Law.


© Christian Joerges, Yves Mény, Helen Wallace, J.H.H. Weiler 2001


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