Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


Author: Annalisa Reale

Title: Representation of Interests, Participatory Democracy and Lawmaking in the European Union: Which Role and Which Rules for the Social Partners?


The paper provides for an analysis of the lawmaking procedure, enshrined in art.138 and art. 139 of the EC Treaty, in the area of EU social policy. The legislative scheme provided therein introduced an institutionalised model of participation of "civil society" groups (EU-level organizations of labour and management) to European governance, and, without a doubt, represents an extremely important field of experimentation for new self-regulatory processes. However, it must be assessed whether the current framework of the procedure allows the attainment of the fundamental aim pursued by participatory models of conferring more democratic legitimacy into the lawmaking process. As a matter of fact, the lack of representativity and accountability of the social partners (acting as lawmakers) and the very limited role of EU institutions in the process may endanger the target of ensuring an adequate representation of a wide range of interests, eventually resulting in the paradox of emphasising, rather than lessening, the democratic deficit in the lawmaking process.

After having examined the implications of the procedure in terms of normative models of representation, legitimacy and accountability, in a constructive perspective two fundamental changes are advocated: (i) the establishment by the EU institutions and by the social partners of more defined rules of representativity, accountability and transparency of the process and (ii) reshaping the balance between private and public actors in the process -by supplementing the functional representation of the social partners with a wider representation of interests by the EU institutions- - in favour of a more inclusive and fair representation of interests.

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