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Furthering Deliberative Democracy? The Role of Environmental Groups in EU Climate Change Policy- Making

Jonas Schoenefeld

Facing the challenges of climate change and the democratic deficit, the European Union (EU) has turned tocivil society organizations, including environmental groups, to increase the legitimacy and quality of its policydecisions. Drawing on the theoretical lens of civil society in a deliberative democratic framework, in thispaper I analyze to what extent and how environmental groups contribute to climate policy debates at EUlevel. Using data from key informant interviews and from articles in European Voice, I evaluateenvironmental group engagement in three key deliberative spaces (intra-group; inter-group and publicdeliberation) against four normative criteria derived from deliberative democratic theory(openness/participation; argumentation; transparency; binding decisions). Overall, results suggest thatenvironmental groups increase the quality and rigor of EU climate policy debates. However, a number offactors, such as the elite nature of EU climate policy deliberation and struggles to connect multiple levels ofgovernance, limit this contribution.

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