And yet, it moves: Lobbying Regulation in the Council of Ministers of the European Union
Keywords:Transparency, Council of Ministers, Lobbying, Inter-Institutional Agreement
This study aims to explain the commitment of the Council of the European Union to the Inter-Institutional Agreement on a common Transparency Register for interest representatives with the Commission and European Parliament in 2021. To scrutinize this surprising turn in the hitherto transparency-averse position of the Council, this study draws on a set of elite interviews with Council sources and transparency stakeholders. The emerging data are analyzed through a theoretical framework grounded in institutionalist theory, grouped in a strategic, institutional, and ideational dimension. Evidence on a strategic dimension suggests a transparency-averse majority in the Council that explains the overall skepticism of the institution towards advancing lobbying transparency. The institutional dimension reveals the Council as compelled by norm-entrepreneurship and a logic of appropriateness instilled by other institutional actors in the Inter-Institutional Agreement. Lastly, the ideational dimension reveals shifting notions of transparency, as well as effective change agency and knowledge sharing through pro-transparency actors within the Council. The study concludes that, while a merely strategic analysis of institutional change fails to explain reform, a holistic institutionalist perspective, considering different dimensions of institutional change, is well suited to explain the advance of lobbying transparency in the Council. Further research could draw on the tentative findings of this research and attempt a longitudinal assessment of drivers and inhibitors of lobbying transparency in the Council.
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