In the view of the European Commission and many EU scholars, European democracy should be deliberative and the democratisation process as such fostered via civil society involvement. But until now, no one has developed a plausible EU-specific theory of associative democratisation. This gap might be filled by looking at democratisation theories for national settings. This article discusses the scope of applicability for the EU environment of three of the most prominent normative conceptions of (deliberative) democracy (Christiano, Cohen/Rogers and Habermas), which in particular deal with associational involvement in national political systems. Their underlying empirical assumptions about the nature of associations, the political framework and so on are taken up and contrasted with the persistent empirical conditions in the EU. For different reasons, none of these models of associational involvement works properly at EU level and, thus, only a restricted vision of democratic associational involvement in EU decision making is viable. Notwithstanding, the EU political system is still far away from institutionalising even this modest vision.