The access of business interests to European Union institutions: notes towards a theory
Based on extensive empirical evidence, this paper attempts to establish some patterns in the interaction between business and EU institutions.
The unequal access of interest organizations to the EU institutions is often associated with biased European politics. Nonetheless, systematic accounts of interest group access are rare. Rooted in the organizational theory of resource dependencies and drawing on a survey of 800 EU and national business associations, the article presents a broad conception of European political exchange to explain the contact patterns. Ordinal regressions indicate that three dimensions shape these patterns – organizational characteristics, sectoral-economic features, and national modes of interest intermediation. Nonetheless, EU interest intermediation displays only very few general traits – these are the division of labor among EU and national associations, the economic clout, the financial resources and the expertise of interest groups as well as their political mobilization when they face of EU regulation. Else, the interaction patterns vary along the EU institutions and their levels of decision-making underscoring the importance of the institutional opportunity structure.