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Towards Regulatory and yet Democratic Governance? Consumer Involvement and the Legitimacy of EU Competition Policy

Hikaru Yoshizawa

In the study of European governance, the relationship between the legitimacy of the European Union and the involvement of civil society in governance has been one of the central concerns. This research contributes to the literature by examining the case of European Union competition policy. In the last decade, the European Commission has conducted institutional reforms and multiplied channels to competition policy for consumers. Those changes include the initiation of European Commission public consultations, a proposal of collective consumer redress system, and the creation of the Consumer Liaison Unit in Directorate-General Competition as well as the Consumer Sub-unit in the European Consumer Consultative Group. This article maintains that those reforms aim to enhance both input and output sides of the legitimacy of competition policy, whereas the issue of capacity building of consumer organizations remains essential. This finding casts doubt on an argument that regulatory policies such as competition policy are and should be technocratic rather than democratic. The research employs a qualitative analysis to pursue a better understanding in the objectives of the Commission-led reforms.

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