Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Patterns of Conflict and Mobilization: Mapping Interest Group Activity in EU Legislative Policymaking

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Abstract:  Contemporary studies on interest group politics have mainly used single interest organizations as their central objects of study. This has led to a rich body of knowledge on the motivations of interest group mobilization, strategy development and even policy access and influence. The focus on single interest groups, however, has resulted in limited knowledge on aggregate patterns of interest groups’ activity. This article seeks to address this lacuna, by examining patterns of mobilization and conflict of interest groups’ activity in EU legislative policymaking. To do so, it adopts a unique policy-centred research design and an empirical assessment of policy mobilization for a sample of 125 EU legislative proposals based on extensive media coding as well as structured elite interviews. We find that levels of policy mobilization vary substantively across different legislative proposals and that political conflict between interest groups is remarkably low. This suggests that interest group conflict and mobilization contribute little to EU politicization and that in cases where interest groups voice opposing positions, conflicts do not occur between business and non-business groups. Our findings have important implications for our understanding of interest groups in EU legislative policymaking.

Keywords:  European Union; interest groups; legislative policy-making; mobilization; political conflict


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© Arndt Wonka, Iskander De Bruycker, Dirk De Bièvre, Caelesta Braun, Jan Beyers. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.