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About this book

Why is the EU so reliant upon exchanges with interest organisations?
What safeguards have been developed to prevent capture by special interests, and how effective are these?
How does the EU system of interest representation compare with those of other systems, and what are its unique features?The fully revised fourth edition of this highly-acclaimed book provides an authoritative and comprehensive assessment of the role of organized interests in the EU. Showing that interest representation is a key aspect of the European project, it examines the significance of interests for everyday policy-making, for European integration, and for the democratic legitimacy of the EU. Accessibly written and thoroughly updated, the new edition contains additional material on the regulation of lobbying and the European Transparency Register.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Representation, Participation and Deliberation

Abstract
What role does interest representation play in the European Union (EU) political system? What should we make of populist narratives about public decision-making prone to capture by ‘special interests’? Or the counter-narrative, that EU political institutions skilfully use a diverse range of advocacy organizations to lobby member states and each other to achieve their legislative goals? How much do resources matter in lobbying activities and outcomes? If advocacy organizations politicize issues sufficiently to a level of high public saliency, will decisive support from the European Parliament follow? Do lobbies work within parameters set by EU institutions, or themselves act as agenda setters? Are there different patterns of lobbying for different categories of policies? Does the size of lobbying coalitions matter? Is there a European ‘style’ of lobbying distinctive from elsewhere, or do characteristics of EU lobbying simply reflect the different rules of political decision-making? Are systems in place which achieve participation from a diverse range of interests in EU policymaking which strengthen political decision-making and its connections to civil society, and how well do procedures intended to achieve these work in practice? These questions have been subject to a substantial legacy of research in recent years which offer increasingly sophisticated and highly nuanced approaches.
Justin Greenwood

2. EU Decision-Making and Channels of Influence

Abstract
Interest representation is conditioned by the nature of the decision-making system in which it is embedded. ‘Majoritarian’ systems in which a government commands a parliamentary majority can create outright ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in legislative initiatives, whereas ‘consensual’ systems produce compromised policy initiatives in which there is mostly ‘something for everyone’. As was outlined in Chapter 1, the highly fragmented nature of EU decision-making means that no one type of interest can ever routinely dominate it. And without the chance to be an outright winner or loser, civil society constituencies have to find broadly based alliances. Fragmented, multi-level structures of decision-making afford ease of access for a wide range of civil society players but dilute the impact of any given constituency, whereas centralized structures create difficulties of access but once obtained the near monopolistic ‘insider’ status can result in high policy impact (Risse-Kappen 1995).
Justin Greenwood

3. The Regulation of Lobbying and the European Transparency Register

Abstract
‘Lobbying’ raises similar types of issues for most democratic political systems which leads to some degree of regulation. The core issue involves public assurance as to the probity of exchanges between lobby organizations and political institutions, but this can extend into wider issues involving equality of access. This is particularly important in the EU political system because of the high degree of reliance upon organized civil society to undertake core democratic mechanisms (Chapter 1). ‘Lobby Regulation’ can embrace a variety of goals, on a spectrum ranging from limited aims of avoiding corrupt practice through to contributing to more complex regulation of access to political institutions, and exchanges between them and outside organizations aimed at ensuring pluralistic democratic outcomes. The EU’s systemic reliance upon organized civil society means that it has all of these features. Chapter 8 considers the range of procedures which regulate exchanges with organized civil society aimed at democratic outcomes, while this chapter focuses more narrowly upon the EU’s lobby regulation schemes, although it does consider the contribution of these schemes to, and implications for, achieving democratic goals.
Justin Greenwood

4. Business Interests and the Professions

Abstract
Business interests and the professions are key components of producer interests. The extent to which some branches of the professions are engaged in economic activity – accountants, architects, dentists, lawyers, engineers etc. – makes analytical consideration possible in one chapter alongside business interests, albeit in a different section. While the professions are diversely constituted, even where most members of a particular profession perform their activities in the public sector, there is a mixed model of private and public sector contracting, and as private operatives. The first phase of the EU was driven by a search for economic prosperity and global competitiveness. Creating one single Europe-wide home market and replacing protected national markets with open borders has been based, inter alia, on enhancing competition and the capability of European business to compete in the global economy of the twenty-first century, and reducing transaction costs of market exchange.
Justin Greenwood

5. Labour Interests

Abstract
Labour interests have been heavily influenced by economic change, and the increasing internationalization of capital has posed considerable challenges to nationally based labour movements. In western Europe, labour markets have been transformed by neo-liberal tendencies, leading to a general decline in the influence of organized labour, and the establishment of a European labour market underpinned by qualified free market principles. The corresponding discourse in EU policymaking presents a difficult tide for labour interests to contend with, and EU powers in the labour market field have boundaries prescribed by the treaty. EU social partnership with employer organizations has delivered limited results (Chapter 2). Landmark rulings of the European Court of Justice have placed qualifications on the rights to strike contained in the Charter of Fundamental Social Rights, and upon the scope of protection for domestic workers under conditions of free movement of labour.
Justin Greenwood

6. Citizen Interests

Abstract
A striking development is the ‘coming of age’ of citizen interest organization, mobilization and representation at EU level. There is a dense landscape of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) organized and advocating at EU level for virtually every imaginable cause, from the unemployed to Muslim women to groups countering the long-held monopoly of producer groups in technical domains such as financial services. A number of EU NGOs are also relatively well resourced. One segment alone, environmental NGOs, has over 130 EU-oriented staff, and self-declares an annual spend on lobbying the EU institutions of over €13 million. The WWF European Policy Office, Transport and the Environment, and the European Consumers Organization each has a staffing complement comparable to the group of best-resourced business organizations, bar one (Table 4.1). EU NGOs have recently located a variety of wealthy independent foundations from which to draw financial support. Individual NGOs are highly networked by formal organizations and informal structures within and across segments, sometimes working alongside one another in purpose renovated buildings, often working on joint campaigns.
Justin Greenwood

7. Territorial Interests

Abstract
The focus of this chapter concerns sub-national, regional and local interest representation at the European level, which are dominated by the perspectives of territorial public authorities. Much of the ‘hype’ of decades ago about regions being a coming ‘third level’ of EU multi-level governance (to member states and supranational institutions) has long since evaporated. Much of this hype seemed aspirational. It seems somewhat doubtful that arrangements for some countries to be represented by regional entities in specific discussions in the Council of Ministers, and for regions to be partners in policy instruments, 'have transformed the European Union from a primarily state centric system of authority into a system of multi-level governance' (Hooghe 2002:370–1). The slogan of a ‘Europe of the regions’ gradually gave way to ‘Europe with the regions’ (Hooghe 1995) to one of, at best, ‘Europe with … some of … the regions’. Yet incremental developments in territorial interest representation continue to yield a succession of issues surrounding the presence of the ‘Brussels offices of the regions’. These are reviewed in turn.
Justin Greenwood

8. Organized Civil Society and European Integration

Abstract
Early ‘neo-functionalist’ accounts of European integration (Haas 1958) stressed the transfer of civil society loyalties from the national to the European level. This raises definitional issues as to what is meant by ‘civil society’, as well as the criteria by which a transfer of loyalties can be assessed. There is an established debate on the parameters of civil society, and particularly over the question of whether business interests can be included. The European Commission’s all-embracing definition (European Commission 2001) settles the matter empirically. A transfer of popular loyalties means more than the establishment of an interest group constituted at EU level as a means of addressing regulatory competencies, and a preference for a transnational regime to solve a cross-border issue does not imply a transfer of loyalties. Everyday activities of producer associations cannot therefore be taken to imply a transfer of loyalties. The few who participate in the work of associations in Brussels can ‘go native’, but the numbers are very limited. While producer associations do provide a gateway for more individuals to participate in EU-oriented policymaking at a level of detail, in activities such as standard setting or technical committees, such levels of elite participation are hardly likely to create the mass ‘we-feeling’ (Hrbek 1995) of identify formation. And because most citizen interest groups organized at EU level are primarily associations of other associations, they have never been placed to become agents of loyalty transfer.
Justin Greenwood
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