Beate Kohler-Koch, David Friedrich
Ode to Joy or just a plurality of national anthems: European business interests on their way to an ever closer union or a transnational system of influence?

UACES 47th Annual Conference, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, September 04th to September 06th, 2017

The European Union (EU) has deeply transformed the economic and political environment of business. Interest representation has adjusted to the changed context conditions and became “Europeanised”. But what does Europeanisation mean? Does it bring about supra-nationalism or does it reinforce trans-nationalism? The single market and the EU’s extensive competence in economic and trade affairs seem to call for a strong united voice of business which would be best served by supra-nationalism. We argue that the expectation does not correspond to reality and that this is explicable. The representation of business interests is not yet far along the path of supranationalism, and trans-nationalism is still preponderant. We give empirical evidence by examining the organizational characteristics of the European business interest associations and by evaluating national associations’ presence in Brussels and contacts to EU institutions compared to their European counterparts. We argue that country and sector make a difference. In the conclusion, we give reasons why the Europeanisation of interest representation is not synonymous with supra-nationalism and why we expect trans-nationalism to persist.