Angela Liberatore Governance shifted from a concept used by a few specialists to one quite widely (while surely not universally) used in policy making circles and pub- lic debate. This does not mean that the interpretation of the concept is in the meantime uncontested or obvious. Anal... ytical and policy debate is at times quite heated on whether 'governance' means 'privatisation of government' or rather involvement of various actors at various levels in policy making without 'dismantling' the role of public authorities. Therefore, a better un- derstanding is needed of what 'governance' actually means, why and how governance arrangements and actors in Europe are changing, and what are the implications of such changes -for instance in terms of democracy and le- gitimacy. Such understanding is especially needed in the specific context of the challenges to European policy making and institutions posed by the struc- tural changes in the European society and economy, the ongoing enlargement of the European Union, and the new global context. The analytical and policy need to better understand governance is ac- knowledged and taken care of in a number of national and international re- search initiatives, and is part of a collective European endeavour. Research on 'governance and citizenship' started being undertaken in European Community research programmes within the Key Action 'Improving the socio-economic knowledge base' of the 5'h Framework Research Programme and will be further supported in the 6'h Framework Programme, under the priority on 'Citizens and governance in the knowledge-based society'.
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