At lunchtime today I read an article recently published by the Robert Schuman Foundation with the title ‘Facebook, Twitter: are these the unavoidable tools for the future of European democracy?’ The paper, by Pauline Desmarest, gives much food for thought. She describes well ‘the interlocking of the public and private space’ which is so specific to social networks and flags up the opportunity that such networking has given to populists and extremists. She acknowledges the ‘digital fracture’ between those who have and those who do not have internet access. Nevertheless, such platforms clearly do ‘offer a new space for public debate and change relations between the elected and the electorate’. They can, and do, strengthen dialogue between European citizens and ‘the Brussels bubble’. But they are also ‘a challenge to representative democracy and could heighten the existing gap between Europeans and Europe.’ Like them or loathe them, they are ‘an unavoidable tool’. If we do not embrace them, they may engulf us, and yet they are by their very nature unreceptive to structured strategies. In other words, they represent a considerable challenge already and may come to represent a fundamental challenge to governance at all levels as internet access extends to most people.