6. Notwithstanding this, can these innovations help to correct the present élitist nature of European citizenship? It should first be recalled that the fact that active citizenship is limited to a very small part of the citizenry - a set of civic groups, lobbies, associations and Brussels-based European umbrella organisations - does not mean that the system is not democratic. Firstly, because active citizenship is rarely widespread in Western societies. Secondly, because, as Kant noticed two centuries ago, all citizens benefit from the mobilisation and vigilance of the more active citizens among them. When journalists, academics or human-rights activists try to get access to the documents of the institutions, and when they go to court to contest the decisions which deny them access, which thus creates the jurisprudence which enlarges the right of access to documents, they conquer rights which benefit all citizens. And even if only very well informed citizens continue to use this faculty, and despite the fact that they often only do it to protect their own interests, this still contributes to hold institutions accountable for the sake of the whole citizenry.
7. Thirdly, mechanisms of information, transparency, consultation..., such as those promoted by the white paper, could contribute to enhance the general level of accountability in the EU. These procedures and principles are sometimes presented as alternatives to the classic instruments of parliamentary scrutiny (Majone 1996, Héritier 1999). A strong analytical distinction between redistributive and regulatory policies is drawn to explain and legitimise the limitation of parliamentary mechanisms in the field of regulatory policies. But two objections can be raised against this argument. First, such a distinction remains difficult to define in practice: several "regulatory" policies imply choices between different values, and have important budgetary consequences. Second, parliamentary and non-parliamentary mechanisms of accountability are, in practice, complementary guarantees (Lord 1998). When institutions become more transparent, when their procedures are more clearly defined, when they improve their information... they not only enhance their vertical accountability to mobilised citizens, they also strengthen their horizontal accountability to the European Parliament.8 Moreover, since some institutions, like the Central bank, are not submitted to electoral control and cannot be sanctioned by elected bodies, these mechanisms are the only ones that can be used by MEPs to hold them accountable (Magnette 2000).
8. Finally, it should not be forgotten that the instruments of participation promoted by the white paper correspond to a general and long-term evolution of citizenship practices in the Western world. Comparative research initiated in the 1960s has demonstrated that citizens not only want to hold their leaders accountable through elections once every four or five years, but that an increasingly large proportion of them also intends both to scrutinise and to try to influence their leaders during their term of office (Inglehart 1997). "Continuous democracy", combining electoral rights with new kinds of participatory patterns, is a global evolution that cannot be ignored by European institutions.
9. This kind of reform can thus give new opportunities to the most active segments of the citizenry, so that they might make European institutions more accountable and more responsive to their requests. But, as one of the working group which prepared the white paper stated, "Democracies have to create the conditions for an active exercise of citizenship" (Commission 2001b, p. 7). Citizens should not only be given the opportunity to participate, they should also be encouraged to do so. As John Stuart Mill expressed it in the foundational period of British democracy, "the most important point of excellence which any form of government can possess is to promote the virtue and intelligence of the people themselves" (Mill 1861: 226). A system which pretends to be democratic but does not contribute to the cognitive mobilisation of its citizens is a contradiction in terms. It remains necessary to ask whether "European governance" fulfils this ambition, and, if not, how it could do so.
8 See the Report of the working group on Consultation and Participation of Civil Society.