Between Cheap Talk and Epistocracy

In this article in Public Administration, Alexander Katsaitis and David Coen assess which interest groups access the European Parliament's deliberative processes, focusing on its hearings as an understudied area of European governance.


Improving policy deliberation is a central objective for the European Union's institutions. Focusing on the European Parliament's committee hearings as an understudied area of European governance, we aim to understand their role, and their capacity to improve its procedural legitimacy. Building on theoretical work on interest group access and deliberation we argue that hearings can serve three purposes: (i) coordinative; (ii) epistemic; (iii) enhancing public participation. We construct a set of measures and assess an entire population of participants in hearings (2009–14), concentrating on three committees. Our analyses show that hearings serve a hybrid purpose between coordinative and epistemic. At the top end, we observe a core group of gatekeepers representing the dominant constituencies. Simultaneously, research organizations are granted unique access as experts that de‐politicize debates. Theoretically, we contribute to discussions on interest group access while providing an innovative set of tools for its measurement, and the first dataset of its kind.

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David Coen and Alexander Katsaitis
Between Cheap Talk and Epistocracy: The Logic of Interest Group Access in the European Parliament's Committee Hearings

Public Administration, April 2018
DOI: 10.1111/padm.12406

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Published May 3, 2018 3:11 PM - Last modified June 13, 2018 9:12 AM