Shaping EU Policy from Below

Shaping EU Policy from Below

EU Democracy and the Committee of the Regions

New Horizons in European Politics series

Simona Piattoni and Justus Schönlau

This book looks at the way in which the Committee of the Regions (CoR) can influence EU policy making from below, despite its relatively weak position in the decision-making process. Bringing together theoretical arguments about the central role of the formation of judgment in addition to the more conventionally emphasized expression of will, with an up-to-date account of the CoR's institutional development and activities, Simona Piattoni and Justus Schönlau make a strong case not to overlook the significance of the Committee's contribution to EU-level democracy.

Conclusion: shaping policy from below and the future of the Committee of the Regions

Simona Piattoni and Justus Schönlau

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public policy


In concluding this overview of the remarkable institutionalization of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) during the first 20 years of its existence (1994–2014) and in assessing its distinct contribution to EU democracy, we would like to dwell at greater length on the notion of ‘shaping policy from below’, which is the central argument of our book. In attempting one more time to indicate how the CoR contributes to the active and passive aspects of judgment (issuing voice and exerting control), we would also like to reinforce the idea that having decision or veto power (expressing will) is not the sole nor the most important contribution to democratic policy-making. In making this argument we know that we are fighting an uphill battle as many policy-makers (and also many of our colleagues) believe that only the expression of will carries real power. We have, however, striven to show – and we will attempt to demonstrate once again – that there is a subtler and democratically perhaps more important type of power: the power to shape policies. Just in case that it is necessary, let us rephrase again the reason why we think that judgment is as important if not a more important component of democracy than will and why we think that representative rather than direct democracy is the right way to go in assuring EU legitimacy.

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