Redefining the Rules of the Economic Game
New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series
Edited by Marie-Laure Djelic and Sigrid Quack
Chapter 8: Europe’s Special Case: The Five Corners of Business–state Interactions
Dieter Plehwe with Stefano Vescovi INTRODUCTION For students of international relations and business–state interactions, Europe provides a unique puzzle. The European Union is not a supranational state. Nor can Europe be considered merely as another international regime based on sovereign nation-states. No other set of ‘combined international organizations’ (Rittberger 1995) enjoys institutionalized powers quite on a par with those of the European Court of Justice, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the European Parliament combined. At the same time, decision-making and controlling powers are shared with national governments represented in the European Council and with national administrative units such as national judiciaries. This, furthermore, is only part of the picture. Representations of institutionalized power relations tend to be incomplete, giving much less consideration than they should to the role of private interests and in particular private business interests. Aspinwall (1998) observes ‘supranational interest group pluralism’ juxtaposed to ‘national statism’ in Europe. The striking conclusion is that collective action is far more complex than conventional theories allow. In the tug of war with national advocacy systems, EU-level groups are using increasingly sophisticated means to attract allegiance, including group specialisation, diversification of political objectives, and temporary alliances. In addition, both the groups themselves and the EU institutions are socialising private interests to the efficacy of Euro representation. (Aspinwall 1998, p. 198) Carrying the argument even further and adding a ‘neo-corporatist’ touch, Kohler-Koch (1999) identifies supranational network governance as an institutional feature peculiar to the European Union. What indeed is...
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