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Accountability Mechanisms in EU Business Associations: The Quest for a Public Forum

Rachel Barlow

In order to analyse public accountability measures in an EU context, this paper presents the preliminary findings of new empirical research on actual workings of accountability mechanisms for business associations involved in the EU policy process. The choice of this unit of analysis reflects the importance of the role of these organizations, representing the single largest category of entries in the Transparency Register. It also seeks to define the causal chain between the private considerations of a given business sector with an overriding public interest and examines the interrelation between internal and public accountability arrangements. The EU's multilevel governance structure lacks the link between the mandate of the EU Institutions with a legitimizing mission, and efforts to stimulate participatory democracy though greater involvement of civil society have led to questions about whether organized civil society is a suitable means.The Transparency register has provided a window into the organizations that input into the myriad decision making processes prevalent in the institutions but fails to provide the policy footprint initially sought by the Parliament, mainly through the absence of the possibility of public scrutiny.

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