chapter  7
18 Pages

The influence of public opinion on policy dynamics: party and policy responsiveness in the European Union


The question of how the European Union (EU) institutions can better connect with Europe’s citizens is a central concern for European and national policymakers. Measuring the degree of responsiveness of European institutions to the demands of the citizens is of vital importance because it helps to assess how successful the EU is in meeting the needs and expectations of citizens. At the same time such a perspective is useful to assess to what degree public opinion in Europe is capable of fostering policy change in the EU. The significance of this question has recently been underlined by official documents of the EU. Promoting responsiveness of European institutions to the demands of citizens is considered an important element for maintaining and furthering trust and involvement in representative democracy in Europe. Article 8A of the Treaty on the European Union, as amended in the Lisbon Treaty of 2007,1 emphasizes that ‘every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union’ and that decisions shall be taken as ‘closely as possible to the citizen’.