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The lobby regulation element of the European Transparency Initiative: Between liberal and deliberative models of democracy


The EU's dependence upon exchanges with organised civil society as a proxy for popular participation makes its procedures for participatory governance critical for input legitimacy. The most recent of these is the European Transparency Initiative (ETI). The article examines the development of the lobby regulation element of the ETI, the detail of its operation and the concepts upon which it is founded, in order to consider its potential to contribute to wider goals of participatory legitimacy. The main energies devoted to creating the initiative were spent in the struggle to get it established, with relatively less attention given to the implications of operational issues involved in registration. Although transparency is the main focus, a legacy of predecessor initiatives on interest group representativeness, primarily spatial in concern, remain embedded in the scheme, which place limitations on advocacy-based groups. An alternative regulatory device to representativeness is that of accountability, which can be accommodated within the EU's existing framework of liberal democracy with elements of deliberative overtones, and of which traces can be found in the Code of Conduct associated with the registration scheme.

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  3. Kallas ‘Nottingham speech’ (p. 5). This figure can be traced back to a similar figure stated in a European Parliament report in 2003 (European Parliament, 2003), although the report itself did no more than assert this rather than providing a basis for its calculation. These figures have entered into folklore as a result of the frequency with which they have been quoted. When challenged on the 15 000 figure, a Commission spokesperson responded by stating that it was an estimate produced by an external source, and that Commissioner Kallas had always declared the figure as estimated (see


  5. An (undated, estimated 2007) ALTER-EU brochure describing itself and its work lists CEO as its contact address. In a 7 March 2007 correspondence item (see endnote 9), Wesselius writes to Kallas ‘On behalf of the ALTER-EU Steering Committee’.

  6. De Clerck (2007).


  8. ALTER-EU (undated, c.2007). The quote appears on the penultimate portfolio.

  9. The correspondence was last accessed on 22 March 2010, but was archived alongside other web pages of the Barroso 1 Commission in spring 2010, which has the effect of removing them from public view. The author holds a copy of this correspondence for inspection; a list of it as it appeared on Europa is here included in the Appendix.

  10. See, for instance, the Society of European Affairs Practitioners (SEAP) response to the European Commission Communication follow up to the Green Paper ‘European Transparency Initiative’,, accessed 14 July 2010.

  11. Such as Nokia, still unregistered after 2 years of operation of the register, despite being highly active on the Brussels scene.

  12. The category of registration selected in the European Public Affairs Directory 2007, rather than the available alternative ‘interest groups’.

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  14. On 6 July 2010.

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  19. Some revisions to spending disclosure guidelines were made in the October 2009 review for the category of public affairs practitioners (European Commission, 2009).

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Appendix A

Appendix A

Table A1

Table A1 List of correspondence with Cabinet Kallas relating to the Commission's register of interest representatives

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Greenwood, J. The lobby regulation element of the European Transparency Initiative: Between liberal and deliberative models of democracy. Comp Eur Polit 9, 317–343 (2011).

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  • European Transparency Initiative
  • lobby regulation
  • interest group representativeness
  • accountability
  • liberal and deliberative democracy