Local Europe: Impact of EU Governance on Local Civil Society
"Europeanisation" in terms of an adaptation of sub-national systems and actors to the EU ranks high on the present research agenda. Business associations and, to a lesser degree, trade unions have been included in recent research whereas research on public interest groups (and social movements) still is rather patchy. In view of their potential contribution to democracy it is of utmost concern to investigate their involvement in EU multi-level governance and their presence in a transnational political space. It is plausible to assume that high transaction costs in a multi-lingual, heterogeneous transnational setting add to the existing collective action problems. This may result in a marginalisation of grass root activities, a shift in patterns of political participation from conventional to "unconventional" forms of participation, a highly selective organisation of European wide networks and a change in the relations and role ascriptions of local, national and transnational organisations. The project was intended to explore and explain the success or rather failure of EU interventions to strengthen political participation at local level and connect local civil society organisations with EU level policy making. The preparatory phase ended with a theoretical based elaborate research design for a comparative study in the enlarged Union. Though it got a high ranking in terms of scholarly excellence, the application was turned down by the Volkswagen Foundation because it did not meet the benchmark of equal scientific input from the East European partners. Furthermore, the project could not be pursued further due to the departure of the young scholar who had been trained to do the field work.