Author: Max Haller 1
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  • 1 University of Graz Department of Sociology Universitaetstrasse 15 A-8010 Graz Austria
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Scientific observers as well politicians have noted for a long time that European integration is a process led by the elites but supported much less enthusiastically by the public at large. The first part of this paper documents systematically and for the first time how pervasive the split between elites and citizens has become over the last decades; the rejection of the “Constitution for Europe” by clear majorities of the French and Dutch voters in 2005 was only the last and most spectacular event in this regard. The paper proposes two theses which help to explain this split: (1) European integration has brought and still brings many advantages to the powerful elites involved, the political, economic and new “Eurocratic” elites; (2) for the population at large, the gains from integration are much less obvious; significant subsections of the populations in different EU member countries have been affected negatively by integration. These theses are documented by empirical evidence from many different sources: Data about the origins, careers and privileges of European politicians and bureaucrats; historical and contemporary data about the role of economic interests and the successful strategies of economic elites concerning integration; statistical data about the socioeconomic development of the EU and “Euroland” compared to other large advanced countries and macro-regions of the world; and survey data about the perceptions and evaluations of European integration both among the elites and the populations in the different member states.

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