Who Conducts the Concert of European Business Lobbyists? Towards an Ever Closer Union or a Trans-national System of Influence?

David Friedrich, Beate Kohler-Koch

A single market and the extensive competence in economic and trade affairs of the EU as well as European production and value chains call for a strong united voice of economic interests. Yet, European business interest associations are still nowadays mostly federations of national associations and, in addition, national BIAs are very active players in Brussels. Obviously, the Europeanization of interest representation has stopped short of supranationalism and stayed in a state of inter- and trans-nationalism (Streeck/Visser 2006). What does this mean for the representation of economic interests in the EU? How representative is the current system of interest representation?Based on the discussion of a "new intergovernmentalism" (Bickerton et al. 2015; Schimmelpfennig 2015) the paper examines two features of interest representation in the EU: the supranationalisation of EU business associations, and the Europeanization of national BIAs (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom). The supranationalisation of EU associations is understood in terms of (formal) membership (national associations vs. company membership vs. mixed systems) and a dominance in interest representation activities. The Europeanization of national BIAs is correspondingly conceptualized as the openness to membership of non-national firms and a high level of interest representation targeted directly at EU institutions.The data of our 1999 and 2014 survey (301 EU and 995 national BIAs) indicate active patterns of multi-level interest representation with distinct variations between targeted institutions. Regression and other statistical analyses will show what patterns of influence activities emerge when taking individual organizational properties into account.

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