From the editor

Tags:
review5_1_large
Published: 
04/01/2003

Can the Internet be used to revive democracy? Will voters become more engaged on-line? Is governance more transparent online? Can we hold our politicians to account on-line? These were some of the ideas that inspired the Europaeum's Policy Forum last autumn on Democracy and the Internet.

We know that the Internet is changing the way society works, shops, engages in leisure, accesses information, meets, collaborates - even the way it thinks. We know too there is a growing democratic deficit between the governing classes and the peoples. But it would simplistic and misconceived, as many of the expert participants reminded us at the Oxford forum, to regard the Internet as a panacea for improved future participation.

But this new medium, `this new form of paper' as the keynote speaker, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, put it, offers many opportunities in terms of access, accountability, transparency, and connectivity, and yes, e-voting which Andrew Pinder, the Government's e-Envoy, heralded to be with us in the UK by the next general election. We reproduce here Tim Berners-Lee's vision of the next horizon for the web, as well as Predrag Vostinic's stirring description of how the Internet helped defeat the authoritarianism of Milosevic.

No wonder Romano Prodi among others has urged that Europe must waste no time in becoming fully `wired up'. The Internet was also a theme picked up at the first of three Europaeum international conferences on the future of European universities, held at Berlin. The conference heard much about the vitality brought through European diversity, an idea that features in the powerful presentation by Marcello Pera, President of the Italian Senate, on what constitutes `European knowledge', reproduced here.

Other Europaeum projects described here feature mobility and movement - the subject of last year's summer school, as well as the basis of several of the New Initiative Schemes supported over the past year, bringing European scholars together, and creating Visiting Chairs in each partner university.

Finally, our continuing interest in the future for Europe is reflected in a report on the ideas of Raymond Barre, now based at Paris I, and Derrick Wyatt's masterful dissection of what subsidiarity really means. There is also an important opinion piece by Avishai Margalit, who is the Europaeum Bertelsmann Visiting Professor at Oxford this year, on the Middle East.