The question of how the EU institutions can better connect with Europe's citizens is a central concern for European and national policy-makers. 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. The goal of this research is to quantitatively measure the responsiveness that is to be found between public demands and policy supply. This responsiveness is mutual, therefore there are two sides to our research objective. One aspect is to examine the influence of the level of public support, and its heterogeneity, on policy-makers. Such an influence, if found, would indicate that the volume of European legislation, both across policy fields and time, reflects changes in public support for the various policies. Do the legislative productions of the EU reflect the evolving wishes of the European public? A second aspect of the research will be to examine the degree to which the European public appears to be aware of current and past EU legislation by policy area. Is there responsiveness of public opinion to changes in the volume of EU legislation across different policy areas and time? Theoretically, this project is informed by and relates to the literatures on public opinion, democratic governance and European legislative studies. It is innovative as it simultaneously draws on the thermostatic theory of political responsiveness and on studies of EU legislative decision-making. Methodologically, I use time-series analysis with pooled cross-section data to relate Eurobarometer surveys to European legislation. The findings of this research should provide valuable input into the present drive to make the EU institutions more responsive, open and accessible. The research also has implications for political science in documenting a feedback loop between public opinion and public policy.
Fields of science
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