Lobbying EU Agencies from Within: Advocacy Groups in Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights

  • Leila Giannetto


With the growing importance of agencies in the EU executive space in terms of competences and resources (i.e., agencification), advocacy groups have started to direct their lobbying efforts toward EU agencies. In particular, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that advocate for human rights are currently represented in a number of consultative bodies and platforms of EU agencies such as the Fundamental Rights Agency, the European Asylum Support Office, and Frontex. The role of these bodies and platforms is to “merely” assist EU agencies in gathering information on fundamental rights issues. However, access to EU agencies gives advocacy groups a privileged position to push their claims forward.

However, Frontex—i.e., now the European Coast and Border Guard agency—since its inception has raised serious concerns on fundamental rights abuses and lack of accountability with regard to the respect of human rights. As a consequence, in 2011, the revised Frontex Regulation introduced a Fundamental Rights Strategy and two new bodies: the Fundamental Rights Officer and the Consultative Forum on fundamental rights (CF). The aim of this paper is to establish how advocacy groups lobby Frontex from within (i.e., in the CF) and what is the effect of this lobbying activity on the agency.


  1. Armstrong, K. A. (2002). Rediscovering civil society: The European Union and the White Paper on Governance. European Law Journal, 8(1), 102–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumgartner, F. R., & Leech, B. L. (1998). Basic interests: The importance of groups in politics and in political science. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumgartner, F. R., Berry, J., Hojnacki, M., Kimball, D., & Leech, B. L. (2009). Lobbying and policy change. Who wins, who loses, and why? Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berkhout, J. (2013). Assessing the explanatory potential of ‘exchange’ approaches. Interest Groups & Advocacy, 2(2), 227–250. Scholar
  5. Beyers, J. (2004). Voice and access: Political practices of European interest associations. European Union Politics, 5(2), 211–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beyers, J., & Braun, C. (2014). Ties that Count. Explaining interest group access to policy makers. Journal of Public Policy, 43(1), 93–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beyers, J., Eising, R., & Maloney, W. (2008). Much we study, little we know? The study of interest group politics in Europe and elsewhere. West European Politics, 31(6), 1103–1128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bouwen, P., & McCown, M. (2007). Lobbying versus litigation: Political and legal strategies of interest representation in the European Union. Journal of European Public Policy, 14(3), 422–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Braun, C. (2012). The Captive or the Broker? Explaining public agency-interest group interactions. Governance. An International Journal of Policy Administration and Institutions, 25(2), 291–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Busuioc, E. M. (2013). European agencies: Law and practices of accountability. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Coen, D. (2007). Empirical and theoretical studies in EU lobbying. Journal of European Public Policy, 14(3), 333–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cullen, P. (2015). From coalition to community: Collective identity formation in the social platform. In H. Johansson & S. Kalm (Eds.), EU civil society. Patterns of cooperation, competition and conflict (pp. 81–96). Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  13. Curtin, D., & Egeberg, M. (2008). Tradition and innovation: Europe’s accumulated executive order. West European Politics, 31(4), 639–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. de Haas, H. (2008). The myth of invasion: The inconvenient realities of African migration to Europe. Third World Quarterly, 29(7), 1305–1322. Scholar
  15. Dür, A. (2008a). How much influence do interest groups have in the EU? Some methodological considerations. In Kohler-Koch, B., De Bièvre, D., & Maloney, W. (Eds.), Opening EU-Governance to civil society. Gains and challenges (pp. 45–68). Mannheim: CONNEX Report Series No 05.Google Scholar
  16. Dür, A. (2008b). Interest groups in the European Union: How powerful are they? West European Politics, 31(6), 1212–1230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Egeberg, M., & Trondal, J. (2016). Agencification of the European Union Administration: Connecting the Dots. TARN Working Paper No. 1/2016. Available at SSRN: or doi:
  18. Ekelund, H. (2015). Institutionalist approaches to agency establishment. The European Defence Agency. In N. Karampekios & I. Oikonomou (Eds.), Arming Europe (pp. 11–26). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. European Commission. (2006). Civil society and European Governance. Final report CIVGOV, HPSE-CT-2002-00114.Google Scholar
  20. European Ombudsman. (2013). Special Report of the European Ombudsman in own-initiative inquiry OI/5/2012/BEH-MHZ concerning Frontex. Strasbourg. Accessed November 12, 2013, from
  21. Frontex. (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). Frontex General Report, Warsaw.Google Scholar
  22. Frontex. (2010). Beyond the Frontiers. Frontex: The first five years, Warsaw. Accessed May 24, 2016, from
  23. Frontex. (2012). Programme of Work. Warsaw.Google Scholar
  24. Frontex. (2016). Annual Risk Analysis 2016, Warsaw. Accessed June 30, 2016, from
  25. Frontexit. (July 2016). More dangerous, more opaque, more powerful: MEPs must say NO to the new Frontex!. Accessed July 01, 2016, from
  26. Human Rights Watch. (2011). The EU’s dirty hands: Frontex Involvement in Ill-Treatment of Migrant Detainees in Greece. Accessed August 13, 2015, from
  27. Junk, W. M. (2015). Two logics of NGO advocacy: Understanding inside and outside lobbying on EU environmental policies. Journal of European Public Policy.
  28. Klüver, H. (2013). Lobbying in the European Union: Interest groups, lobbying coalitions, and policy change. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kohler-Koch, B., De Bièvre, D., & Maloney, W. (Eds.). (2008). Opening EU Governance to civil society – Gains and challenges, CONNEX Report Series (Vol. 5). Mannheim: Connex.Google Scholar
  30. Kriesi, H., Tresch, A., & Jochum, M. (2007). Going public in the European Union action repertoires of Western European collective political actors. Comparative Political Studies, 40(1), 48–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lowery, D. (2007). Why do organized interests lobby? A multi-goal, multi-context theory of lobbying. Polity, 39(1), 29–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lowery, D. (2013). Lobbying influence: Meaning, measurement and missing. Interest Groups and Advocacy, 2(1), 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lowery, D., & Gray, V. (2004). A neopluralist perspective on research on organized interests. Political Research Quarterly, 57(1), 163–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mahoney, C. (2008). Brussels versus the beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Majone, G. (1996). Regulating Europe. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. March, J. G. (1955). An introduction to the theory and measurement of influence. American Political Science Review, 49(2), 431–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rijpma, J. (2016). The proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard: Evolution or revolution in external border management?. Study for the European Commission (LIBE committee). Accessed June 5, 2017, from
  38. Ruzza, C. (2006). Human rights, anti-racism, and EU advocacy coalitions. In Morris, L. (Ed.), Rights: Sociological perspectives (pp. 111–128).Google Scholar
  39. Schattschneider, E. E. (1960). The semisovereign people. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  40. Thiel, M., & Uçarer, E. M. (2014). Access and agenda-setting in the European Union: Advocacy NGOs in comparative perspective. Interest Groups and Advocacy, 3, 99–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Weiler, F., & Brändli, M. (2015). Inside versus outside lobbying: How the institutional framework shapes the lobbying behaviour of interest groups. European Journal of Political Research, 54, 745–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zald, M. N., & Ash, R. (1966). Social movement organizations: Growth, decay and change. Social Forces, 44(3), 327–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leila Giannetto
    • 1
  1. 1.FIERITorinoItaly

Personalised recommendations