The History of the European Union: Origins of a Trans- and Supranational Polity 1950-72

By Wolfram Kaiser; Brigitte Leucht et al. | Go to book overview

5   Transnational business
networks propagating EC
industrial policy
The role of the Committee of Common
Market Automobile Constructors

Sigfrido M. Ramírez Pérez

Research on business networks in European integration in historical perspective1 lags behind that by political scientists and sociologists.2 The neo-functionalist work of Ernst B. Haas3 encouraged social scientists to focus on spill-over from sectoral to horizontal and from economic to political integration. Transnational business actors and interest groups were regarded as prominent drivers of such spill-over. More recently, sociologists and political scientists have modified the earlier neo-functionalist view of the role of transnational business actors in integration, which appears too determinist and teleological.4 In contrast, historians of European integration have traditionally focused on national political elites and governmental actors, with at the most a secondary role for interest group politics in interpretations, which have remained very state-centric. Searching for the domestic roots of European integration policies, they have paid little attention to transnational networks. Instead, they have privileged the study of national business actors within member-states, especially general business associations such as the French Conseil National du Patronat Français (CNPF),5 the German Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie,6 the Italian Confindustria,7 the Belgian Fédération des Industries de Belgique,8 the Dutch Hoofdgroep Industrie,9 the Federation of British Industries,10 and the business confederations of Nordic countries.11

At a general level we can differentiate between several types of business networks in the history of European integration: national, international, transnational and multinational. Different types of business networks are often nested with each other. Transnational business networks consist mainly or entirely of companies or businessmen who are directly affiliated with the networks without intermediary organizations. In contrast, international business networks have national or sectoral associations, not individual businesses, as affiliated members. Lastly, the term multinational business networks connotes organizations created by multinational corporations with cultural or political objectives (like foundations and research institutes), but without direct business objectives. Alternatively, such networks have purely economic aims as commodity-chain networks, business groups or joint ventures with a multinational scope.

In European integration, significant international business networks include the little studied sectoral and horizontal business associations. The European

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