EU Democratic Deficit(s) and Legitimacy; System Versus Sub-System Level

  • Alexander KatsaitisEmail author


Despite theoretical work on the importance of civicity and representativeness for modern democracies, less has been done to connect research on interest groups and the democratic deficit of the EU. This chapter links democratic deficit frames with post-modern legitimacy conceptualizations. Different legitimacy demands (input, output) across the EU’s sub-systems lead to variation in the activity of interest groups (public, private) that supply it. Utilizing research on 4,000 interest groups from the Register of Interest Representatives, the analysis indicates that different frames of the democratic deficit apply across Directorate Generals (DGs). It appears that both under- and over-representation are taking place. If the EU is to improve its aggregate legitimacy then it must address multiple democratic deficits found across its DGs; by balancing the density and diversity of different types of interest groups clustering around them.


European Union Interest Group Public Interest Private Interest Policy Field 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Many thanks to David Coen, Odysseas Katsaitis and Christine Reh for useful comments and discussions on the chapter.


  1. Bellamy, R., & Castiglione, D. (2013). Three models of democracy, political community and representation in the EU. Journal of European Public Policy, 20(2), 206–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berhkhout, J., & Lowery, D. (2010). The changing demography of the EU interest system since 1990. European Union Politics, 11(3), 447–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernhagen, P., & Mitchell, N. J. (2009). The determinants of direct corporate lobbying in the European union. European Union Politics, 10(2), 155–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beyers, J., & Kerremans, B. (2007). Critical resource dependencies and the Europeanization of Domestic Interest Groups. Journal of European Public Policy, 14(3), 460–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bouwen, P. (2002). Corporate lobbying in the European Union. Journal of European Public Policy, 9(3), 365–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouwen, P. (2009). The European Commission. In D. Coen & J. Richardson (Eds.), Lobbying the EU. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Broscheid, A., & Coen, D. (2003). Insider and outsider lobbying of the European Commission: An informational model of forum politics. European Union Politics, 4(2), 165–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Broscheid, A., & Coen, D. (2007). Lobbying activity and fora creation in the EU: Empirically exploring the nature of the policy good. Journal of European Public Policy, 14(3), 346–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bulmer, S. (2009). Politics in Time meets politics of time, historical institutionalism and the EU timescape. Journal of European Public Policy, 16(2), 307–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bunea, A. (2013). Issues, preferences and ties; determinants of interest groups’ preferences attainment in EU environmental policy. Journal of European Public Policy, 20(4), 552–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chalmers, A. (2013). Trading information for access: Information lobbying strategies and interest group access to the European Union. Journal of European Public Policy, 20(1), 39–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coen, D. (2009). Business lobbying in the European Union. In J. Richardson & D. Coen (Eds.), Lobbying the EU. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Coen, D. (2007). Empirical and Theoretical Studies in EU Lobbying. Journal of European Public Policy, 14(3), 333–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coen, D. (1998). European Business Interest and the Nation State: Large firm Lobbying in the European Union and Member States. Journal of Public Policy, 18(1), 75–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coen, D. (1997). The evolution of the large firm as a political actor in the European Union. Journal of Public Policy, 4(1), 91–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Coen, D., & Katsaitis, A. (2013). Chameleon pluralism in the EU: An empirical study of the European commission density and diversity across policy domains. Journal of European Public Policy, 20(8), 1104–1119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Coen, D., & Richardson, J. (2009). Learning to Lobby the European Union: 20 Years of Change. In J. Richardson & D. Coen (Eds.), Lobbying the EU. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Commission of the European Communities (2011). Register of Interest Representatives. < = en#en> Accessed May 2011.
  19. Commission of the European Community (2001). European governance: A white paper. COM (2001) 428 final.Google Scholar
  20. Cooper, A. (2012). A ‘Virtual Third Chamber’ for the European Union? National Parliaments after the Treaty of Lisbon. West European Politics, 35(3), 441–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Corbett, R., Jacobs, F., & Shackleton, M. (2011). The European Parliament (8th ed.). London: John Harper.Google Scholar
  22. Demetriou, K. N. (2013). Introduction. In K. N. Demetriou (Ed.), Democracy in Transition: Political Participation in the European Union. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Eising, R. (2007). The access of business interests to EU institutions: Towards elite pluralism? Journal of European Public Policy, 14(3), 384–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Eising, R. (2010). The political economy of state-business relations in Europe. London, New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Grant, W. (1987). Business interest, organisational development and private interests. DeGruyer, Florence: EUI.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Grant, W. (2000). Pressure politics: from insider politics to direct action. Parliamentary Affairs, 54(2), 337–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Greenwood, J. (2007). Interest Representation in the European Union, The European Union Series, General (2nd ed.). New York: Palgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
  28. Hix, S., & Follesdal, A. (2006). Why there is a democratic deficit in the EU: A response to Majone and Moravscik. Journal of Common Market Studies, 44(3), 533–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hix, S., Noury, A. G., & Roland, G. (2007). Democratic Politics in the European Parliament. United States of America: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jones, E. (2010). Output legitimacy and the global financial crisis; perceptions matter. Journal of Common Market Studies, 47(5), 1085–1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Klüver, H. (2011). Informational lobbying in the European Union: The effect of organisational characteristics. West European Politics, 35(3), 491–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kröger, S. (2013). Creating a European Demos? The representativeness of European Umbrella Organizations. Journal of European Integration, 35(5), 583–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kröger, S., & Friedrich, D. (2013). Introduction: The representative turn in EU studies. Journal of European Public Policy, 20(2), 155–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lehmann, W. (2009). The European Parliament. In J. Richardson & D. Coen (Eds.), Lobbying the EU. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Mahoney, C. (2004). The Power of Institutions: State and Interest Group Activity in the European Union. European Union Politics, 5(4), 441–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mahoney, C. (2007). Networking vs. allying: The decision of interest groups to join coalitions in the US and the EU. Journal of European Public Policy, 14(3), 366–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mahoney, C., & Baumgartner, F. (2008). Converging Perspectives on Interest Group Research in Europe and America. West European Politics, 31(6), 1253–1273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Majone, G. (2010). The mutation of the EU as a regulatory regime in what democracy for Europe? In E. O. Eriksen & J. E. Fossume (Eds.), Proceedings from the RECON midterm Conference 2010. Oslo: ARENA. <> Accessed March 2012.
  39. Majone, G. (2009). Dilemmas of European Integration. The ambiguities and pitfalls of integration by stealth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Majone, G. (2002). The European Commission: The limits of centralization and the perils of parliamentarization. Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administrations and Institutions, 15(3), 375–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Majone, G. (1996). Regulating Europe. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mayer-Schoenberger, V., & Cuckier, K. (2013). Big Data: A revolution that will change how we live, work and think. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  43. Maloney, W. A., Jordan, G., & McLaughlin, A. M. (1994). Interest groups and Public Policy: The insider/outsider model revisited. Journal of Public Policy, 14(1), 17–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mitchell, N. (1997). The conspicuous corporation: business, public policy and representative democracy. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  45. Moravcsik, A. (2008). The myth of the Europe’s ‘democratic deficit’. Intereconomics, 43(6), 331–340.Google Scholar
  46. Moravcsik, A. (2002). In Defence of the “Democratic Deficit”: Reassessing the Legitimacy of the European Union. Journal of Common Market Studies, 40(4), 603–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nicolaidi, K. (2012). European democracy and its crisis. Journal of Common Market Studies, 51(2), 351–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Princen, S., & Kerremans, B. (2008). Opportunity structures in the EU multi-level system. West European Politics, 31(6), 1129–1146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rasmussen, M. K. (2013). The Influence of Interest Groups in the European Parliament: Does Policy Shape Politics? Ph.D. Thesis, London School of Economics.Google Scholar
  50. Reh, C., Héritier, A., Bressanelli, E., & Koop, C. (2013). The informal politics of legislation: Explaining secluded decision making in the European Union. Comparative Political Studies, 46(9), 1112–1142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Richardson, J. (2000). Government, interest groups and policy change. Political Studies, 48(5), 1006–1025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sauruger, S. (2009). Lobbying COREPER and national governments. In D. Coen & J. Richardson (Eds.), Lobbying the EU (pp. 101–123). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Scharpf, F. W. (2009). Legitimacy in the multilevel European polity. European Political Science Review, 1(2), 173–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schmidt, V. A. (2009). Democracy in Europe; The EU and National Polities. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Thomas, C. S. (2001). Studying the political party-interest group relationship. In C. S. Thomas (Ed.), Political Parties and Interest Groups; Shaping Democratic Governance. Colorado: Lynne Riener Publishers.Google Scholar
  56. Tsebelis, G., & Garrett, G. (2000). Legislative politics in the European Union. European Union Politics, 1(1), 9–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Warleigh, A. (2005). Europeanizing civil society: NGOs as agents of political socialization. Journal of Common Market Studies, 39(4), 619–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wonka, A., Baumgartner, F. R., Mahoney, C., & Berkhout, J. (2010). Measuring the size and scope of the EU interest group population. European Union Politics, 11(3), 463–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zürn, M., Binder, M., & Ecker-Ehrhardt, M. (2012). International authority and its politicization. International Theory, 4(10), 69–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public PolicyLondonUK

Personalised recommendations