Comparative European Politics

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 104–120 | Cite as

New Forms of Accountability and EU-Governance

  • Mark Bovens
Original Article


As the European Union is turning into a polity, issues of accountability increasingly have found their way onto political and academic agendas. One recurring issue is whether these new multi-level forms of governance require new forms of accountability. The article explores the meaning of new accountabilities and whether these would help to overcome possible accountability deficits. Since accountability is an ambiguous and contestable concept, the contribution first analyses the concept and then narrows it substantially before discussing the meaning of these new forms of accountability, both theoretically and in practice. New forms of accountability are diagonal or horizontal in character and include accountability to administrative forums, to citizens, clients, and civil society. The conclusion is that new forms of accountability enhance policy learning and provide a series of formal and informal checks and balances but they are no alternative to traditional forms of popular control. We therefore need traditional and new forms of accountability regarding European governance.


accountability European Union multi-level governance traditional and new accountabilities 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Bovens
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public AdministrationUtrecht School of Governance, Utrecht UniversityThe Netherlands

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