Economic Interests and the European Union: A Catalyst for European Integration or a Hindrance?
The influence of economic interest groups on national policy-making on European Union-level policy and European integration seems to be case specific and circumstantial. Certain economic interests (for example, pension funds) are so influential that some of them become almost inseparable from the state. However, economic interests are less likely to become influential when broad institutional questions are negotiated, rather than specific rules with a clear cost-benefit balance. And it is especially when they feel challenged by the state that they turn their efforts to EU-level lobbying. The record of economic interest groups in EU policy-making appears also to be mixed. They are influential when they enjoy privileged institutionalised interactions with a policy-making node, such as European Parliament (EP) committees. However, access to the EP has recently become less privileged and institutional advocacy has become more contested, to the disadvantage of interest groups. Many economic interest groups actually obstruct the legislative process with seemingly inconsistent behaviour: they are in favour of European integration in general, but end up lobbying against concrete pieces of legislation if they are costly to them.