The Impact of European Integration: Political, Sociological, and Economic Changes

By George A. Kourvetaris; Andreas Moschonas | Go to book overview

8

Organized Interests in
The European Union

Wolfgang Streeck

Philippe C. Schmitter

*Whatever the differences between the various versions of the theory, or "pretheory," 1 of European regional integration, organized interest groups were always assigned a prominent place in it. Especially in the "neofunctionalist" image of "Europe's would-be polity" 2 and of the path to that polity, supranational interest group formation was expected to serve, in an important and indispensable sense, as a substitute for popular identification with the emerging new political community above and beyond the nation-state. 3 Most observers and in fact most participants in the integration process fully expected that the citizens of Europe would for a long time continue to adhere to traditional national passions and identities. They knew that if the united Europe had to wait until its citizens began to feel as "Europeans" rather than as the French, Germans, Italians, and so forth, it would not come about in any foreseeable future, and Europe as a political entity would in their lifetime never be more than a small bureaucracy in Brussels with very fragile support in national politics.

One reason why there nevertheless appeared to be hope was that things were believed to be different with the professional leaders of organized interest groups. Unlike the voters, they were seen as likely to orient themselves rationally and calculatedly to where the action was—that is, under the presumed logic of the neofunctionalist spillover process, 4 to "Brussels." Indeed in attitude and outlook, interest group officials and European civil servants could

____________________
*
Wolfgang Streeck and Philippe C. Schmitter, "From National Corporatism to Transnational Pluralism: Organized Interests in the Single European Market." Politics and Society 19 (1991), No. 2, 133-64. Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Inc. Slightly revised version in: V. Eichener and H. Voelzkow, eds., 1994: Europäische Integration und verbandliche Interessenvermittlung, Marburg: Metropolis Verlag, 181‐ 215. Reprinted in: Colin Hay and Bob Jessop, eds., 1995: Beyond the State? New Directions in State Theory, London: Macmillan.

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