Civil society organisations as monitors and campaigners: the EU's information paradox

Mark Field

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Criticism of the EU is frequently framed in terms of its supposed lack of accountability and the claim that it is out of touch with its citizens – especially its mobile or the so-called ‘active’ EU citizens. To counter this, the EU makes increasing use of online systems to render its working practices visible to the public. However, these new online systems, designed and introduced to reduce a perceived gap between the EU and its citizens, have frequently been introduced without a reliable and consistent quality assurance process to ensure the accuracy of the information placed in the public domain. Moreover, the Paper shows that this is a deliberate policy, with the European Commission openly acknowledging its reliance on public-control to police the information it provides through its online systems.

This paper demonstrates that this public-control is actually undertaken by CSOs acting on behalf of the public. Drawing on qualitative interviews and non-participant observation, the paper charts the involvement of two CSOs that regularly monitor the Commission’s online registers, providing a first-hand account of the tactics they use to maximise the profile of any irregularities in pursuit of their wider campaigning goals. The Paper argues that, by delegating the quality assurance process to public control, the EU has created an information paradox where the systems designed to increase public confidence in the EU institutions are used by CSOs to erode this confidence.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventEuropean Consortium for Political Research General Conference - University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 6 Sept 20179 Dec 2017


ConferenceEuropean Consortium for Political Research General Conference
Abbreviated titleECPR General Conference


  • transparency
  • e-governance
  • trust
  • civil liberty


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