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.
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