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Interest groups and patterns of lobbying in Brussels.

Greenwood, Justin


Justin Greenwood


Jos� M. Magone


Political institutions in democratically orientated political systems interact with interest organisations to enhance the legitimacy of their policies, whether through greater acceptance of them (inputs) or to enhance efficiencies (outputs). The remoteness from civil society of transnational organisations makes them particularly reliant upon interactions with interest groups and the like, reinforced by shared outlooks and background of personnel. Transnational organisations also use interest groups as political messengers to national governments, as sources of political support for their policies, and as surrogate agents for ‘civil society’. The use of interest groups for legitimacy purposes, and the extent of dependence upon them, makes public confidence in exchanges between political institutions and interest groups of critical importance, and international organisations therefore have systems in place which ensure a presence for NGOs through funding regimes, and which regulate exchanges for transparency and formal equality of access. Beyond this there is variation, between poles of corporatist style accreditation for an elite few through to pluralist regimes founded upon competition between a teeming population of interest groups. The balance of EU competencies towards the regulatory type demands highly technical input, and predicts underlying interest group politics. The European Union has an elaborated system of interest representation which is pluralist in character. An underlying regulatory structure has been developed by the European Commission which stimulates competition between groups and nurtures constituencies of supporters. The extent of its funding regime for NGOs is remarkable. The Commission has also developed instruments to equip interest groups to perform accountability functions on political institutions otherwise missing from consensually orientated political systems. A series of procedures which structure interaction between EU political institutions and interest organisations have emerged since the turn of the century which compare favourably with measures in place in the member states. These procedures are informed by agendas of both ‘better regulation’ and of ‘participative legitimacy’.


GREENWOOD, J. 2014. Interest groups and patterns of lobbying in Brussels. In Magone, J.M. (ed.) Routledge handbook of European politics. Abingdon: Routledge [online], chapter 43, pages 793-806. Available from:

Online Publication Date Dec 17, 2014
Publication Date Sep 30, 2014
Deposit Date Aug 23, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 23, 2019
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Pages 793-806
Book Title Routledge handbook of European politics.
Chapter Number Chapter 43
ISBN 9780415626750 ; 9780815373889
Keywords European Union; Interest groups; Lobbying
Public URL
Publisher URL


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