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EUROGOV No. C-06-02
Carol Harlow and Richard Rawlings

Promoting Accountability in Multi-Level Governance:
A Network Approach

Published: April 7, 2006


This paper seeks to address problems of accountability in systems of multi-level governance organized around networks, more particularly the system obtaining in the European Union. Discussion of these problems has previously focused on the ‘accountability deficit’ created when gaps are left by the accountability machinery of two of the several levels of government, supranational and national. This paper suggests that the hierarchical and pyramidal assumptions that presently underpin accountability theory in the EU context need to be tested and that new evaluative frameworks may be necessary. Using case studies of the Community Courts and European Ombudsman as examples, the paper suggests that new, flatter ‘accountability networks’ are emerging, composed of agencies specializing in a specific method of accountability, which come together or coalesce in a relationship of mutual dependency, fortified by shared professional expertise and ethos. These might ultimately be capable of providing effective machinery for accountability in network governance systems.

Keywords: governance, accountability, networks, European Court of Justice, European Ombudsman

Carol Harlow – London School of Economics
Richard Rawlings – London School of Economics

© 2006 Carol Harlow and Richard Rawlings

Citing this EUROGOV paper:
Harlow, Carol, and Richard Rawlings. 2006. Promoting Accountability in Multi-Level Governance: A Network Approach. European Governance Papers (EUROGOV) No. C-06-02,

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