Elite foundations of European integration: a causal analysis

Heinrich Best

in The Europe of Elites

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199602315
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738951 | DOI:

Series: IntUne

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This chapter examines the causes of variation in the Europeanness of European economic and political elites. It shows that attachment to Europe (emotion), the wish to strengthen European integration (cognition), and to strive for a common foreign policy (conation) are loosely coupled and vary strongly between European countries, between elites and the general population, and between economic and political elites. This challenges the thesis that European integration is based on a pan-European consensus within elites and between elites and non-elites. Results of analyses show weak and fragmented evidence for the impact of elites’ situs, status, previous biographical experience, and religious affiliation on their Europeanness, whereas a consistent impact comes from the level of Europeanness of other elite groups, indicating a strong effect of mutual cue-taking and peer-pressure at national level. The impact of these and other findings on the future of the process of European integration is discussed.

Keywords: Europeanness; structural functionalism; theory of cognitive mobilization; cultural capital; post-functionalism; political extremism; multilevel governance; Eurelitism; European unification; religion; institutional networks; responsiveness; European Commission; institutional networks; population gap; elite theory; national identity

Chapter.  9693 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: European Union ; Comparative Politics

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