Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Opening the black-box of policy consultations in EU policymaking

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.06.01  Social sciences  Political science  Politology 

Code Science Field
5.06  Social Sciences  Political science 
interest groups, Evropska unija, policy consultations, democracy, policymaking
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (14)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  03703  PhD Danica Fink Hafner  Political science  Researcher  2020 - 2023  675 
2.  39172  PhD Marko Hočevar  Political science  Researcher  2021  83 
3.  29896  MSc Anja Kolak  Political science  Technical associate  2020 - 2023  24 
4.  53552  Valentina Konrad  Political science  Junior researcher  2020 - 2023 
5.  16369  PhD Alenka Krašovec  Political science  Researcher  2020 - 2023  400 
6.  22333  PhD Damjan Lajh  Political science  Head  2020 - 2023  501 
7.  23460  PhD Sabina Lange  Political science  Researcher  2020 - 2023  125 
8.  50569  PhD Matevž Malčič  Political science  Junior researcher  2020 - 2022 
9.  51175  Polona Mlinarič    Technical associate  2020 - 2023 
10.  50901  PhD Elena Nacevska  Political science  Researcher  2020 - 2023  36 
11.  34730  PhD Meta Novak  Political science  Researcher  2020 - 2023  212 
12.  50571  PhD Špela Orehek  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  29 
13.  32315  PhD Urška Štremfel  Educational studies  Researcher  2022 - 2023  361 
14.  39465  Miha Zimšek  Political science  Researcher  2021 - 2023  23 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0582  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences  Ljubljana  1626957  39,467 
With populist parties on the rise, dropping voters’ turnout and decreasing trust in political parties and institutions, European countries are facing democratic deficit. The latter is an even more pressing issue at the supranational level. Due to the lack of legitimacy of its institutions, the European Union (EU) has been especially a subject of criticism for its democratic deficit. Consequently, European Commission has taken several measures towards more inclusive governance with the aim to improve legitimacy of policies formulated at the EU level. This includes turn towards participatory democracy and inclusion of interest groups and other stakeholders in policymaking. Although stakeholders can take advantage of various opportunity structures at the EU level, organisation of policy consultations in the policy formulation stage of EU policymaking provides the tool for broader mobilisation of interests where individuals as well as interest groups can take part. Lately, scholars have raised concern that despite openness of policy consultations, interest representation remains biased. Thus, equal representation in participatory democracy is questionable, as various studies stipulates that economic interests, transnational interest groups and interest groups from older, Western democracies, are more likely to enter complex process of EU policymaking. This project aims to empirically approach the normative issue of interest groups’ access to and influence on policymaking process, tackling the issue of interest groups’ (un)equal representation in relation to democratic deficit/legitimacy at the EU level. The focus will be on policy consultations, organized in the frame of policy formulation stage, that remains black box of EU policymaking. In particular, it is unclear how the Commission handles interest groups’ consultation contributions and what the Commission actually considers when preparing legislative proposals, what is left out, and on what grounds. The project aims to answer what are the main characteristics of interest groups that participate in policy consultations in policy formulation stage at the EU level, which factors determine the influence of interest groups on outputs of policy consultations, and what is the bias in access and influence. To do so, we will conduct intensive analysis organised in 5 activities and 9 work packages that will include: analysis of sample of policy consultations organised in the Commission’s 2014–2019 mandate, mapping of the population of interest groups that responded to policy consultations, content analyses on interest groups’ contributions and Commission’s legislative proposals to measure the influence of interest groups on policy results, online survey among interest groups representatives, and face-to-face interviews with EC policy officials to understand how policy consultations at the EU level are organised and implemented and what are their policy effects. Previous research has been limited to the study of bias in access and on the analyses of characteristics of interest groups that participated in consultations and their contributions. Unanswered remains the factors that determine the interest groups’ influence, how does bias in access translate to the bias in influence, and how EU policy officials decide whose positions submitted in the frame of policy consultations and on which basis are considered. The proposed project seeks to close these research gaps. Answering these questions will address also the issue of contribution of participatory democracy to the quality of democracy, reduction of the democratic deficit and improvement of legitimacy of policymaking at the EU level. The project will be implemented by the members of the Centre for Political Science Research at the Faculty of Social Sciences, which is one of the leading research centres in scrutinising European integration processes. The project team has rich experiences in interest groups research and EU policymaking.
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