The influence of civic associations on the European Union
This article analyzes pan-European networks between civic associations, which cover the member states of the European Union and the global foreign policy field almost as densely as do government institutions.
Compared to government institutions, however, these networks have better ties with interest groups located between the political elite and the grass-roots level, and due to this they are able to better influence parliaments and government cabinets. So far, the EU and various funds have had an influence on Estonia’s free associations through assistance programs, which supported achieving preferences set by Estonia for the growth of the state. The unofficial effect has been more important than the official effects, which is restricted mainly to personal contacts between active members of associations at seminars and other events. Now, as a full member of the EU, Estonian civic associations have to unite in Brussels with interest groups with pan-European interests, since keeping an eye on European affairs is considered one of the most important activities in ensuring lobby work is fruitful.