Katharina Troll, M.A.

Katharina Troll (M.A.), PhD-researcher at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research

Name: Katharina Troll

Profession: Historian of Modern History

Education: Bachelor’s degree in History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary European Studies at the University of Augsburg

Research interests: European integration, business and European integration, German and British History, British-Jewish History

 

Research project

Working title: Between Euroscepticism and “Euro-opportunism”. West German and French employer’s associations and European integration (1945-1979)

The dissertation project analyses the critique of West German and French employer’s associations of European integration over the period from 1945 to the end of the 1960s/1970s. Of particular interest are the three most important German employer’s associations “Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie” (BDI), “Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände“ (BDA), and the “Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag“ (DIHT), as well as the French umbrella organization “Conseil national du patronat français“ (CNPF). The aim of the project is to explore the reasons for Euroscepticism within the examined interest groups and their influence on shaping the European integration process on national and European level. The work also seeks to shed light on various network strategies of employer’s associations within national governments, European institutions, and transnational organizations.

 

My interest in the project

Over the past three decades Euroscepticism advanced to a highly politicised issue within society and political parties. There seems to be a consensus within (political and social) science that Maastricht marked the turning point towards a Europe that might lose consent within society. From a historical science perspective, however, there is proof that Euroscepticism and European integration coexisted since the creation of the European Community for Coal and Steel and the reasons for that are multi-faceted. Especially in the early phase of the integration process, one of them were economic considerations. Therefore, the focus on employer’s associations seems to be the perfect lens to analyse the economic dimensions of Euroscepticism.

 

Next working steps

The work done until now was based on secondary source reading. The foundation of this project will, however, be archival sources. Therefore, first visits to the “Bundesarchiv” and the “BDI-archive” in Berlin are planned in September 2021.

At this early stage of the project two major challenges can be identified: First, the problematic term “Euroscepticism” is difficult to define and sometimes isn’t applicable to the research question. This is linked to the second challenge: Euroscepticism can just partly be detected within the named employer’s associations in the period 1945 to 1979, especially in the early phase of European integration. But it would be too simple to assume that employer’s associations were pro-Europeans by heart. As the two problems are connected, a solution would be to modify the term “Euroscepticism” by shifting the focus to the intrinsic opportune character of Euroscepticism (“Euro-opportunism”). The underlying hypothesis would be to assume that employer’s associations were basically “euro-opportunists”, shifting from Eurosceptic to pro-European attitudes if their interests were at stake or congruent with critical junctures of the integration process. This would allow a greater mobility within the term and project.

Furthermore, it is to this point uncertain if the regional focus will shift from France to the United Kingdom. As both, the West German and French employer’s associations seem to have reacted similar to the integration process – while the British interest groups’ stance towards European integration was very ambivalent over a long period of time – it might be more fruitful to shift the regional focus.

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