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Competition, Cooperation, and Campaigning - Blurring Lines in EU Interest Representation

Christine Quittkat

Enlargement, institutional reforms, and governance change have brought about new constraints as well as new opportunities regarding the repertoire of interest representation in the EU. In an ever larger concert of opinions and as a response to the demands of the Commission which is pushing for aggregated positions in order to avoid information overload, interest groups instead of being lone fighters representing competing interests, are pressured to cooperate. Cooperation can take on different formats, ranging from inter-sectoral coalition building, to a specific division of labour between EU- and national level interest groups, to cooperation between formerly oppositional groups, etc. In addition, modern communication (Internet, Social Media, etc.) and the upgrading of the EP, which traditionally is far more sensitive to public pressure than the Commission, can be expected to lead to a broader use of outsider strategies as for example campaigning. Such strategies, which once have been the action-field of NGOs, are now increasingly used by all kinds of interest representatives, including business. On the basis of the EUROLOB II database, these developments regarding competition, cooperation, and campaigning will be analysed. Altogether, it is expected that they blur traditional cleavage lines in EU interest representation and at best result in new patterns of competition; but they might as well make the EU system of interest representation more opaque than ever, counteracting the Commission's (and EP's) efforts to render EU decision-making more transparent.

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