The importance of civil society in policy-making is twofold; civil society organizations (CSOs) monitor government performance and mediate between citizens and the state to ensure proper implementation. In this study, we analyse the effects of two aspects of civil society (civic participation and CSO consultation) on member states’ implementation of European Union (EU) policy. The analysis is based on a novel dataset of practical implementation in 24 member states. Our findings reveal that the combination of high levels of civic participation and routine CSO consultations improves policy implementation. Furthermore, the effect is conditional on states’ bureaucratic capacity to accommodate societal interests regarding the EU directives. The results indicate a paradox; civil society is not effective in countries with low bureaucratic capacity, where civil society is needed most to improve government performance.

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Keywords Civic participation, civil society, EU policy, interest intermediation, policy implementation
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Journal Journal of European Public Policy
Schrama, R. (Reini), & Zhelyazkova, A.T. (2018). ‘You can’t have one without the other’: the differential impact of civil society strength on the implementation of EU policy. Journal of European Public Policy, 25(7), 1029–1048. doi:10.1080/13501763.2018.1433709