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The influence of interest groups in the European Parliament: does policy shape politics?

Rasmussen, Maja Kluger (2012) The influence of interest groups in the European Parliament: does policy shape politics? PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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For a long time, the European Parliament (EP) was viewed as a lobbying sideshow mainly to be targeted if interest groups were unsuccessful at getting their demands included in the European Commission’s proposal. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have a reputation for being particularly open to diffuse interests who, due to their limited resources, use ‘friendly’ MEPs to put pressure on the European Commission and the Council. The notion of the EP representing diffuse interests conflicts with the broader political science literature on interest groups, which dwells on business bias. There are, however, good reasons to doubt the EP’s reputation as a defender of diffuse interests. Much of our current knowledge about the EP’s interest group politics stems from a time when the EP’s legislative powers were more limited. Within the last twenty years, the EP has evolved from a ‘multilingual talking shop’ to a genuine co-legislator with the Council. The increased powers of the EP raise the question of whether EP interest group politics has normalised, whereby the assumptions of the interest group literature would seem to reflect the reality of the EP. A common assumption in the interest group literature is that diffuse interests carry limited weight in decision-making because their resources and interests remain subordinate to that of business. However, business influence differs across policy fields depending on how the costs and benefits related to policies are distributed. The aim of my thesis is to investigate how the distribution of costs and benefits of legislative proposals influence interest groups’ likelihood of winning particular conflicts in the EP. This is done by examining four legislative dossiers in the areas of employment, consumer, and environmental policies. The thesis draws on the process-tracing of EU documents, and 144 interviews with MEPs, EP officials, and interest groups.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Maja Kluger Rasmussen
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Page, Edward C.

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