European Economic and Social Committee: House of Cards or Civil Society Fortress?

Review article

Mario Munta ; Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb

Fulltext: english, pdf (347 KB) pages 63-63 cite
Fulltext: croatian, pdf (347 KB) pages 30-62 cite

This article attempts to clarify the modalities and degree to which advisory bodies, exemplified by The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), are capable of contributing to European Union (EU) governance processes and legitimacy-building in a meaningful manner. Besides acknowledging their contribution via provision of information and technical expertise, serious inquiries into the mechanisms through which EU advisory bodies operate are scarce. In that sense, this paper strives to elucidate the added value of the EESC. The author applies discursive institutionalism and legitimacy taxonomies to explain the functional development and character of the EESC. The paper concludes that the EESC seems to have focused to a lesser extent on influencing EU legislative initiative (dominantly on the public policy items in which the EESC disposes of the highest specific expertise, and administrative/ideational capacities), and more on promoting itself as the bridgehead of organised civil society in the EU. It does so through its deliberative working methods and by detecting topical niches through which the EESC specializes in building civil society, mediating between civil society organisations (CSOs) and the EU, and nurturing decent relationships with CSOs on Member State, candidate country and third country levels. Finally, a novel window of opportunity has opened for the EESC to transmit the voice of civil society to the EU level and to influence EU socio-economic governance, namely through the procedures of the so-called European Semester.

European Economic and Social Committee, Civil Society, European Union, Advisory Bodies, European Legislation

Hrčak ID: 186448