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Multistakeholderism and policymaking - national, regional and international perspectives

PL 4: Policy and decision-making and multistakeholderism – international, national, and regional experiences. Is there a European vision?

“Multistakeholderism only works if the expectations are not too high” - is this valid when we talk about internet governance? The fourth plenary session @ EuroDIG set out to tackle the idea of shared responsibility for a common global resource and the multistakeholderism approach to internet governance. The discussion included representatives of civil society, government, businesses, academia, pan-European regulatory bodies,

and international organizations. There was a consensus among the panelists that the governance mechanisms resemble more the decentralized architecture of internet rather than the current distribution of power, supporting a different structural model. This would be based on a different approach to defining communities, political actors, (meaningful) participation, deliberation, democracy strengthening.

Some of the advantages of the multistakeholderism approach were underlined: statement of full diversity of opinions, clarification and refining of ideas, public awareness, coverage of different problems and ground for commitment of the stakeholders. More generally, this was connected to civic empowerment, governmental transparency, and collaborative policy-shaping. On the other hand, there are a number of limitations – such as lack of guarantees for legitimacy, representativity, universality of points of view, as well as the danger of special interest groups capturing - that make multistakeholderism effective only when developed in tandem with representative democracy.

Is there a common European vision? The present debate is the first step in that direction.

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