The ‘angels of Europe’ : corporate public affairs employees as the in-house entrepreneurs of Europe
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This article examines the inner workings of a private company’s participation in the European policy game. The qualitative analysis shows that the promotion of a company’s interests and its positioning at the level of the European Union is not self-evident and results from internal battles in which European public affairs employees play a pivotal role. Under what conditions do the European public affairs employees of a leading multinational firm endorse, manage, and promote an active position in the Brussels’ polity sphere? This article highlights the process by which these ‘professionals of Europe’ adapt to the specific requirements of the EU and mobilise an informal network to contribute to European policy-making. These lobbyists appear as ‘double entrepreneurs’: as entrepreneurs on behalf of both their employers’ interests and the European cause as they place themselves as the auxiliaries of EU civil servants. Maintaining a delicate balance, interest representatives occupy a position of dependence, both on their employer and on the polity field in which they valorise their ‘European institutional capital’. This position allows these social agents to serve as a broker between their employer and the European arena. In doing so, they nurture the porosity between (economic) interests and the public sector, which cuts across the field of ‘Eurocracy’.
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