Beate Kohler-Koch
Civil Society in the European Union: Lessons from the Recent Research

St. Petersburg
Center for German and European Studies, St. Petersburg State University

NGOs are highly welcomed in the European Union. They have become an attractive partner in EU governance. They are expected to communicate the concerns of citizens to Brussels and to contribute with their knowledge to better EU policies. Thus their involvement is widely interpreted as a right step in the direction of participatory democracy. In depth research confirms that NGOs profited from the greater openness of EU institutions to input from civil society. On the whole, policy-making in the EU has become more transparent and participatory. As a consequence, interest representation in the EU today is more pluralistic than before. In particular, the rights and value based NGO sector has become more influential. However, it is faced with a dilemma: The more NGOs adapt to the ‘logic of influence’ and succeed in having their voice heard, the less they function as democratic transmission belts.