The Hilbert space formulation of interacting s=1 vector-potentials stands is an interesting contrast with the point-local Krein space setting of gauge theory. Already in the absence of interactions the Wilson loop in a Hilbert space setting has a topological property which is missing in the gauge- theoretic description (Haag duality, Aharonov–Bohm effect); the conceptual differences increase in the presence of interactions. The Hilbert space positivity weakens the causal localization properties of interacting fields, which results in the replacement of the gauge-variant point-local matter fields in Krein space by string-local physical fields in Hilbert space. The gauge invariance of the perturbative S-matrix corresponds to its independence of the space-like string direction of its interpolating fields. In contrast to gauge theory, whose direct physical range is limited to a gauge-invariant perturbative S-matrix and local observables, its Hilbert space string-local counterpart is a full-fledged quantum field theory (QFT). The new setting reveals that the Lie structure of self-coupled vector mesons results from perturbative implementation of the causal localization principles of QFT. Dedicated to the memory of Raymond Stora and John Roberts.