Patricia Scherer and Ferdi de Ville focus on CSOs influence on policy changes and which conditions are conducive to policy influence of CSOs at the national level in view of the multi-level governance decision-making process of the EU. As an EU-level umbrella organisation, Volonteurope works closely with its members at the national level across Europe, and we are happy to take part in the following study.


Civil society organisations (CSOs) at EU-level depend on the capacity of their members to act as ‘transmission belts’: they provide analysis, influence national legislation and monitor the implementation of policies affected by multi-level governance procedures like the European Semester on the ground. CSOs have more influence on social and employment policy in some countries than in others, which may be linked to the given environment and conditions they encounter to function and participate effectively in policy debate. Using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) based on expert reports following interviews with national-level civil society organisations, this article investigates which set of conditions support CSOs’ influence within policy deliberation and why. The QCA solution formulas indicate that an enabling legal and administrative framework is necessary, while a high level of volunteering and participation in combination with a legal obligation to consult CSOs are conducive to policy influence at the national level. Stable and varied funding seems to play an ambivalent role. These findings are corroborated through a focus group held with EU-level CSOs, underlining their reliance on national members’ capacity to contribute meaningfully to policy consultations at European level.

Article published in the Journal of Civil Society can be found here.