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White Paper on Governance: EU Attempt to Popularize Legal Discourse?


Since the 1990s the discourse on the relationship between the EU institutions and member states in the field of European action has changed significantly and it has been increasingly supplemented by framework agreements between the actors involved in the Community dialogue. In this regard, the White Paper on Governance (Brussels, 25.7.2001 - COM(2001) 428final) contains a series of recommendations on how to enhance democracy in Europe and boost the legitimacy of the institutions. The aim is to modernize European public action in order to increase the accountability of European executive bodies to the elected assemblies and open up the Union's decision-making procedures to allow citizens to participate in making decisions which concern them. The aim of this paper is to explore how European institutions re-shape their discourse(s) in the field of governance (analyzed from a corpus of EU texts organized in a diachronic perspective) in order to provide communicative response to the global socio-economic change and the need to encounter the general public on issues that are not usually accessible. In particular, the legislative documents included in the corpus will be presented as a combination of different discourses which, partly because of their interdiscursive relations between them, and partly through the intentional use of lexico-grammatical and socio-pragmatic resources, are strategically exploited to mould the norms/conventions typical of public documents such as White Papers and consultation documents to make the production of the related legal texts available and easily understood by the lay public (Bhatia 2002, 2004; Hyland 2005). This will demonstrate how EU institutions try to re-shape generic legislative constructs in an interactants’ accepted manner despite the variations in the lexico-grammatical and discoursal features typical of legal texts (EU Parliament resolution 2007) (Bhatia 2004, 2008; Candlin and Hyland 2004).