(Title picture source: FrankPaul / WWF )
Non-state actors have always played a significant role in environmental politics. As interest groups, organized non-state actors attempt to influence policy decisions by lobbying ‘on the inside’ or by raising public awareness and concern. Although their influence on policy is a highly debated topic, interest groups often do get their way when the conditions are beneficial to their success. However, their influence has been associated both with good, adaptive policies and with entrenched and unyielding ‘iron triangles’ – barriers to adaptation. Interest group influence is thus an important phenomenon not only to political scientists but also to sustainability scholars, looking to understand environmental policy dynamics.
The paper Tracing a pathway to success: How competing interest groups influenced the 2013 EU Common Fisheries Policy reform (recently published in Environmental Science & Policy) investigates the causal mechanism of interest group influence on a major policy change. It uses process tracing method to explore the empirical case of a recent reform of EU Common Fisheries Policy, which was characterized by active interest group participation. The study was done using semi-structured interviews along with analysis of interest group position papers, letters and press releases. The interview data was collected by Kirill Orach during a 1-month fieldwork in European institutions in Brussels during which the author met with interest group representatives, policy experts, EU civil servants and politicians.
The mechanism of influence is presented in the paper through interactions between interest group agency and the structures in which they operate in order to influence policy. Particularly, in their findings authors emphasize the role of a major institutional change (Lisbon Treaty) and the perception of the policy issue as ‘critical’ as important conditions for environmental interest group success. Authors also show how coalition-building strategy allowed environmental groups to use the favorable conditions to have an impact on the final outcome of the Common Fisheries Policy reform.
The article is available at the following link: