Interest Representation: Can Lobbying Regulation Help EU Overcome Democratic Deficit?

  • Abstract:

    Only few studies have dealt with the question why do some lobbyists reach their goals and others not. Do their goals correspond with common interests? What criteria should be used to decide which groups of interests merit political involvement? Even though proper studying of this issue could shed the light on one of the central aspects of EU policy making, existing studies propose nothing but contradictory hypotheses and biased findings. The European Commission engaged in designing various initiatives in order to increase participation of interests groups and therefore to increase the level of democratic legitimacy. But the Commission has faced harsh criticism for the lack of transparency in the way the interest groups were able to participate in policy-making process. Any democratic political system should provide some degree of regulation and the EU is not an exception. Lobbying regulation is particularly important, because European political systems is characterised by high degree reliance on civil society. There are two major aspects of lobbying regulation: public officials behavior and lobbyists code of conduct. The latter is a more complicated issue because it infers definitional inconsistency. Recent elections to the European Parliament has raised the question of interest groups involvement in the electoral process. But there is no clear data on their, in contrast to other political actors, influence on the outcome of elections as well as the level of democratic legitimacy. The key characteristic of an interest group is that in spite of its desire to exert political influence, the political influence is not its sole purpose. Involvement of interest groups in the political process should come after careful consideration of all costs and benefits of such participation. Therefore, the major challenge is to design appropriate schemes and procedures in order to allow interest group contribute to the policy-making process.