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Political Aspects of Lobbying Regulation in the European Union

Daria Rudenkova

This paper contributes to the discussion surrounding involvement of interest groups in the political process of the European Union. My purpose here is to inspect current political studies on democratic deficit of the EU and try to find out which mode of lobbying regulation could mostly contribute to overcoming the democratic deficit. The analysis is based on two major democratic notions: accountability and transparency. European Commission is constantly engaged in designing various initiatives in order to increase participation of interests groups and therefore increase the level of the democratic legitimacy. However, Commission has faced harsh criticism for the lack of transparency in the way the interest groups participate in policy-making process. Any democratic political system should envisage regulation for political actors' behaviour, and the EU is not an exception here. Lobbying regulation is particularly important, because European political system is characterised by high degree of reliance on civil society. Surprisingly, only few studies have dealt with the question why do some lobbyists reach their goals and others do not. Do their goals correspond to common interests? What criteria should be used to decide which groups of interests merit political involvement? Even though proper consideration 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.Bringing theoretical considerations on democratic deficit with lobbying regulation approaches, I argue that an adequate regulation of interest groups representation increases accountability and transparency and, therefore, it can be considered to be a method to deal with the problem of the democratic deficit. The results suggest that attempts of self-regulation did not bring the desired effect, which is why mandatory regulation is expected to be more effective.

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