Sea Change; Dutch Fishers and the European Community, 1977-2002
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The thesis analyses Dutch fishers’ perceptions regarding the national and European level of policy-making. The analysis, based on fisheries newspapers and archival material, utilises the conceptual tools of input, throughput, and output legitimacy. The thesis argues that differences in perceptions were partly intrinsic to the European level. Fishers were not accustomed to the world of Brussels and its institutions, and they did not feel involved in policy-making. Thus, increasing fishers’ involvement in decision-making can bolster legitimacy. Although, this thesis stresses that issues of interest representation can seriously undercut these attempts. For another part, the thesis argues that differences were caused by deeper trends. ‘Nature’ gained in importance, which manifested itself earlier in European policy-making than it did in Dutch national policy-making. In conclusion, this thesis, by examining fishers’ perceptions, sheds new light on the debate of European Community/European Union legitimacy. It calls into question whether stakeholder involvement improves legitimacy and it highlights that perceptions vis-à-vis the European level of policy-making are not only shaped by characteristics intrinsic to the policy process, but also by deeper trends that manifest themselves through European policy-making.