This book is the result of doctoral studies that I started in October 2004. At the outset, I only knew that I wanted to work on interest groups and litigation in the context of the European Union. At that time, I would not have believed that I would find myself some time later touring... half Western Europe to interview environmental organisations, nor that I would read French, German and Dutch court rulings on the protection of endangered species whose names were completely unknown to me. Yet I never regretted my choice of topic, and hopefully the following chapters will convince the reader that it is indeed a topic that merits our attention. I would not have been able to cope with all the pitfalls of a long research project without the strong and enduring support of my friends and colleagues. Both personally and academically, I have profited enormously from my three years as a doctoral student at the department of political science at the Institute for Advanced Studies (Institut fur Hohere Studien) in Vienna, Austria. I am very much indebted to Gerda Falkner, Oliver Treib, Sylvia Kritzinger and Irina Michalowitz for organising such a great programme which allowed me and my colleagues to engage in intensive discussions with outstanding academic scholars such as Alec Stone-Sweet, Paul Pierson, James Caporaso, Frank Schimmelfennig, Klaus Goetz, Andrea Lenschow, Katharina Holzinger and Hellen Wallace.
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