Beate Kohler-Koch
If participation does not do the job, will accountability make a difference? The role of CSO in EU accountability

Victoria, BC

After an era of highflying expectations in the democratic potential of civil society involvement in EU governance, critical voices are now predominant: Empirical research documents that equal and effective representation of citizens’ concerns is deficient and that the responsiveness of decision-makers is low. The paper argues that the transmission-belt model is leading us astray and that scrutinising accountability relations will tell us more about public control of EU governance. Civil society organisations (CSO) may be actors or facilitators of accountability; they may constitute the forum to which account is to be rendered, pass judgement and exert sanctions or they may trigger judicial, administrative or political accountability relations. Irrespective of the different roles CSO may play, EU actors will have to explain and justify their conduct and are exposed to consequences. The crucial question is if CSO engagement is effective in terms of “putting matters right” and democratic in terms of reaching down to citizens.