Representative associations are crucial actors in any democracy but particularly under corporatist regimes where they are consulted by political and public actors and participate in economic governance. For instance, trade unions and employer associations have succeeded in maintaining their legitimacy for engaging in collective bargaining or social dialogue at the national level through that called social concertation. In most countries, a ‘mutual recognition’ system assesses the level of representativeness despite recommendations from the International Labour Organization over applying objective and predictable criteria. When objective indicators are deployed, the most common indicator is that of ‘density’. Density reflects the number of members an association has in comparison with the total number of its potential members. This indicator has served to assess whether or not trade unions and employer associations are sufficiently representative to justify participation in EU level negotiations in accordance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. These European negotiations may lead to contractual relations, including agreements susceptible to implementation following a European Council decision. While being the most usual indicator of ‘representativeness’, density does display certain limitations and is actually often unreliable in a factor then contributing to the inefficiency of the political and economic system but also explaining why representativeness remains an enigma within the framework of EU social policies. This panel aims to focus on the internal and external representation of interests related to civil society groups, such as trade unions, employer associations, NGOs, professional organisations, social movements, etcetera. We would particularly welcome papers, both theoretical and empirical, that address representativeness beyond density, i.e. that consider the concept of representation as multifaceted, specifically covering the descriptive and/ or the substantive dimensions. Papers on representation strategies, congruence, challenges and processes are also most welcome.