Wait, who Controls the Council? The Role of the Dutch Parliament and Organized Interests to Hold the Council of Ministers Accountable


  • Robert Verboeket


Parliamentary oversight, Principal-agent model, interest groups


This paper examines the role of organized interests as indirect scrutinizers of the Council of Ministers. Whereas the ministers of the Council are only accountable to national parliaments, the latter face many difficulties in controlling the former. This is problematic as it potentially increases the EU’s democratic deficit. This thesis researches a possible solution to this problem by testing McCubbins and Schwartz’s fire-alarm theory. McCubbins and Schwartz argue that organized interests can alarm national parliaments who can then scrutinize better. The research focuses on the Netherlands as a most likely case-study. Eleven interviews with prominent Dutch organized interests led to the conclusion that the fire-alarm model functions limitedly at best. The analysis points at two structural impediments -tradeoff and issue-dependence- that explain the lack of interaction between organized interests and national parliaments. Indeed, organized interests prefer contact and collaboration with other actors; most notably the Commission and the EP.


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