Following the White Paper on Governance that put consultation at the heart of EU policy processes, the European Commission set out general principles and minimum standards for consulting the public at the end of 2002 (COM 704/2002). Since then, over 500 online and written consultation processes have been proposed, unevenly distributed among DGs and attracting a variable number of responses. This article presents empirical data collected on such consultation processes and has two main goals. First, to explain the role of consultation in the context of the wider EU policy process and second, to provide evidence on levels of public participation. In providing empirical evidence the article informs a reflection on some highly debated normative issues related to the European Union and the working of its system of governance.
Keywords: European Union, civil society, participation, consultation, governance