Skip to content

Sofie Fleerackers

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 3 – Law and practice of the rule of law within the European Union

As a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Fellow, Sofie focuses on the practice of interest representation in the European Union, and the question of its adequate regulation.

Understanding the interplay between lobbying and litigation in the EU’s multi-level governance structure is essential to our awareness of the European policy-making process and, ultimately, of the rule of law.

A strong believer in the value of interdisciplinary research, Sofie intends to bridge academic scholarship on interest group politics and judicial integration.

Host Institutions

Rule of Law & Transparency: Redefining Interest Representation in the European Union

Supervisors

  • Christina Eckes
  • Nicolas Levrat

Research abstract

In the European Union, (strategic) litigation has become an essential part of interest representation as the lines characterising political and legal strategies of interest representation are increasingly blurring. The role of lawyers is only one of the normative considerations that arise. At present, legal ethics rules come into play where lobbying ends and legal advice begins. Be that as it may, empirical analysis suggests that the glass wall between lobbying and litigation does not truly hold. After all, if both strategies are merely different tools in society's toolkit, brought into play strategically and targeted to influence legislation at the discretion of interest groups, then should this not be adequately regulated?

Within this context, the principal objective of the research project is to discern how the practice of interest representation in the EU may be determined, and whether the EU legal system offers an adequate framework in order to ensure accountability and transparency of decision-making processes – and the rule of law at its core. The research project aspires to conceptualize the seemingly mounting dissensus over the rule of law by focusing on the practice of interest representation – lobbying as well as litigation – and transparency of decision-making processes.

Notwithstanding participatory gains, regulating intervention by outside interests constitutes a vital prerequisite for transparent, accountable and legitimate democratic administration. Given its ever-more complex nature in present day Europe, the practice of interest representation needs to be captured in a broader – more realistic – sense in order to avoid current loopholes and opaque practices which ultimately undermine the rule of law. This research proposes exactly that. Therefore, the research project will not only be relevant to interdisciplinary scholarly research on interest group studies as such, but also conceivably instrumental to the rule of law and our democratic process, its regulatory structures at national and supranational levels, and the interest group actors who are encouraged to abide by them.