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Civil Society and the European Union

Introduction

Research on civil society and the European Union (EU) has become a growth industry and it reflects both a growing presence of organized civil society in EU affairs and rising expectations in the democratic virtues of a European civil society. From the very beginning, a core question has been, if civil society can enhance the democratic quality of the EU. In spite of this common interest, the concept of civil society is highly ambiguous, which makes it difficult to put the different strands of thinking together. Scholars are attached to their own research agenda and those who are primarily interested in the constitutionalization of the EU (Fossum & Trenz, 2006) will take a different stance from those who take up the issue of relocation of social activism (Ruzza, 2004) and those who want to know how the involvement of organized civil society in EU governance affects the democratic legitimacy of the Union (Greenwood, 2007; Kohler-Koch,