Early ‘neo-functionalist’ accounts of European integration (Haas 1958) stressed the transfer of civil society loyalties from the national to the European level. This raises definitional issues as to what is meant by ‘civil society’, as well as the criteria by which a transfer of loyalties can be assessed. There is an established debate on the parameters of civil society, and particularly over the question of whether business interests can be included. The European Commission’s all-embracing definition (European Commission 2001) settles the matter empirically. A transfer of popular loyalties means more than the establishment of an interest group constituted at EU level as a means of addressing regulatory competencies, and a preference for a transnational regime to solve a cross-border issue does not imply a transfer of loyalties. Everyday activities of producer associations cannot therefore be taken to imply a transfer of loyalties. The few who participate in the work of associations in Brussels can ‘go native’, but the numbers are very limited. While producer associations do provide a gateway for more individuals to participate in EU-oriented policymaking at a level of detail, in activities such as standard setting or technical committees, such levels of elite participation are hardly likely to create the mass ‘we-feeling’ (Hrbek 1995) of identify formation. And because most citizen interest groups organized at EU level are primarily associations of other associations, they have never been placed to become agents of loyalty transfer.
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