Agenda-setting by the European Commission. Seeking public opinion?

Markus Haverland, M de Ruiter, Steven Walle

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42 Citations (Scopus)


Historically, the European Commission has followed an expert-based depoliticized route to gain attention for policy issues and the credibility to deal with them. Given growing politicization, we ask whether the Commission might increasingly seek citizens ’ views and whether there is patterned variation. We provide the first mapping of special Eurobarometers, the massive instrument for issue-specific public opinion. We found a steep increase and a curvilinear pattern: public opinion is rarely invited in areas of exclusive European Union competencies and exclusive national competencies. Most special Eurobarometers focus on shared competencies. Citizens are almost never asked about expenditure programmes and never on immigration. There is large variation across the Directorates General, which is only weakly related to the amount of planned legislation and the number of expert committees. Business-oriented Directorates General are much less likely to seek public opinion. These results open up promising avenues for research on agenda-setting strategies at times of politicization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-344
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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