In the following article a conceptual framework will be offered for the explanation of two characteristic features of intergovernmental governance. The argument to be developed raises doubts as to whether European integration can really be expected to be heading towards a more horizontal or network type of governance. It starts out from the theoretical puzzle which is posed by the concurrence of the following two elements of intergovernmental governance structures: the high degree of self-commitment among national governments (‘self-binding’), and the lack of participatory rights granted to non-governmental actors (‘democratic deficit’).