The public accountability of business associations under conditions of EU policy participation.
Barlow, Rachel Ann
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Set in the context of wider problems of EU popular legitimacy, the thesis explores a participatory model of EU policy making based around business associations as agents of participation. Policy participation implies public accountability, where there is an abundance of literature on the role of non-governmental organizations exercising mechanisms, but without a specific focus on business associations. This topic addresses the participatory role of business associations acting within an applied public accountability mechanism. The analysis of the literature leads to the identification of an accountability model grounded in the origin of the mandate to act and to judge. Applied to business associations, the model reveals newly combined conditions for the existence of public accountability, pointing notably to the reliance of external processes on internal means and the deliberate choice to act beyond legal compliance. The public quality of the outcome of the application of the model rests on structured deliberation with the wider EU public through active participation of civil society organizations and arises as questions of reputation management are addressed for business associations active in sensitive product or service sectors. As the multiplicity of actors increases, the relationships within the public affairs networks will become more complex, and the dividing lines between private commercial interests, citizens, and the state more blurred. The public accountability credentials of those actors operating through governance models in this specific context allows for clarification of purpose and transparency of outcomes, thereby providing for a model of engagement.