Skip to main content
main-content
Top

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 third 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

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
‘Interest representation’ in democratic political systems is channelled through traditional pathways of representative (parliamentary) democracy as well as supplementary systems aimed at participatory democracy. The European Union (EU) is particularly dependent upon a secondary ‘participatory’ channel because of core weaknesses in the ‘representative’ channel (most EU citizens do not vote in European Parliament elections or share a sense of common identity) which would otherwise link civil society with political institutions. The absence of popular engagement also means that interest organizations not only dominate input to the EU’s participatory channel but also perform surrogate democratic mechanisms, such as acting as agents of accountability. Heavy reliance upon, and institutionalization of, interest organizations in any political system brings to the fore a whole range of issues; centre stage is the extent to which interest organizations can really connect wider civil society with political institutions and vice versa, as well as the types of stakeholders who win and lose from these relationships, and the dimensions and drivers of such outcomes.
Justin Greenwood

Chapter 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, thus enhancing the prospect of competitive lobbying (such as companies which have lost battles in their trade associations over collective policy positions), 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

Chapter 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 these exchanges. 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).
Justin Greenwood

Chapter 4. Business and Professional Interests

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.
Justin Greenwood

Chapter 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 Treaties. EU social partnership with employer organizations have delivered limited results (Chapter 2). Recent 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

Chapter 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 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. There are over 50 women’s transnational advocacy organizations active at EU level. A number of EU NGOs are also relatively well resourced. One segment alone, environmental NGOs, has over 150 EU-oriented staff, and self-declares an annual spend on lobbying the EU institutions of well over €4 million. The WWF European Policy Office and the European Consumers Organisation each have a staffing complement comparable to the group of best-resourced business organizations, bar one (Table 4.1). The Eurogroup for Animals, and Friends of the Countryside, each declare a spending on lobbying the EU institutions of more than €1 million each year on their respective entries on the European Transparency Register. EU NGOs have located a variety of new wealthy foundations from which to draw financial support.
Justin Greenwood

Chapter 7. Territorial Interests

Abstract
The focus of this chapter concerns sub-national, regional, and local interest representations at the European level, which are dominated by the perspectives of territorial public authorities. Much of the ‘hype’ of one to two decades ago about regions becoming a ‘third level’ of EU multi-level governance (to member states and supranational institutions) has long since evaporated. Much of this hype seemed aspirational, and it is notable that the subject field attracted contributions from writers originating from or based in countries where there have been significant issues of regional conflicts or at least a history of centre—regional issues, such as Belgium, Scotland, Italy, Germany, and Spain. 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’.
Justin Greenwood

Chapter 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 2001a) 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.
Justin Greenwood
Additional information