European Union: Power and Policy-Making

By Jeremy J. Richardson | Go to book overview

11

The logic of organisationInterest groups

Sonia Mazey and Jeremy Richardson

THE LOGIC OF ORGANISATION AND NEGOTIATION: 'SHOOTING WHERE THE DUCKS ARE'

1

In any political system, interests organise themselves to influence the policy-making process and try to shape the institutions of policy-making to their own benefit. For any one issue, we can identify a wide range of actors who have a direct interest-they stand to gain or lose by the final policy decision. Each policy problem as it reaches the political agenda brings with it a whole constellation of interests who then engage in political activity in order to ensure that the processing of that issue is to their advantage. As people become more educated, more articulate and wealthier, and as knowledge and information becomes more accessible, so more people come to recognise that they have an interest in public policy issues. Thus, new interests seek out new ways of pressing their case on public decision-makers. Interests find a multiplicity of access points at the EU level, especially with the acceleration of the Europeanisation of public policy in the member states. They are also alert to any shifts in the distribution of power between existing institutions and between existing levels of government. Hence, if supranational policy-making institutions emerge, there is an inherent 'logic' of interest-group behaviour which will lead interest groups to re-target their lobbying strategies to take account of the new distribution of power. Interest groups are thus an excellent 'weather vane' of the distribution of power in society; as the distribution of power shifts, interest groups follow. After a long process of European integration-which has in essence been a process of the 'Europeanisation' of much public policy hitherto the exclusive province of the sovereign member states-we see a process of 're-targeting' of interest group strategies (Mazey and Richardson 1993). If power has shifted to a new level of government, any sensible interest group is bound to attempt to influence policy-making at the new level. As one American interest group official put it, 'you need to shoot where the ducks are!'.

Similarly, public policy-makers at the new level of government also face the same practical problems of governance faced by policy-makers at the national or local level. In a modern, technical and above all, highly regulated society, it would be strange indeed if policy-makers felt that they could govern without interest groups. For policy-makers, interest groups are an essential link between government, the many 'specialised publics' and the public at large. Groups supply technical information, they warn policy-makers of potential 'trouble', and if mobilised, they supply essential support for the political system as a whole. Thus, just as there is a 'logic' of interest group organisation there is also a 'logic of negotiation'.

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European Union: Power and Policy-Making
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I - Theoretical and Historical Perspectives 1
  • 1 - Policy-Making in the Eu 3
  • 2 - The Development of the European Idea 24
  • Notes 38
  • 3 - Integration Theory and the Study of the European Policy Process 40
  • Notes 55
  • References 56
  • Part 2 - Agenda-Setting and Institutional Processing 59
  • 4 - Agenda-Setting in the European Union 61
  • Notes 74
  • 5 - A Maturing Bureaucracy? 77
  • References 92
  • 6 - From Co-Operation to Co-Decision 96
  • 7 - National Sovereignty Vs Integration? 127
  • Notes 145
  • 8 - The National Co-Ordination of European Policy-Making 148
  • References 165
  • 9 - The Court of Justice and the European Policy Process 170
  • References 183
  • Part 3 - Channels of Representation 185
  • 10 - European Elections and the European Voter 187
  • 11 - The Logic of Organisation Interest Groups 200
  • Note 214
  • 12 - By-Passing the Nation State? Regions and the Eu Policy Process 216
  • Part 4 - A Supranational State? 231
  • 13 - Enlarging the European Union 233
  • Notes 244
  • 14 - The Eu as an International Actor 247
  • 15 - A European Regulatory State? 263
  • References 276
  • 16 - Eroding Eu Policies 278
  • References 293
  • Index 295
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