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Lobbying in the EU by the business community

The goal of European lobbying professionals is to ensure the favorable legal


environment for their organizations, customers etc. Interest groups include European
trade federations, commercial consultants, labor associations, regional representations
etc. Lobbying associations exhibit different approaches in their work: they differ in
forms of management, have different preferences, resources and various lobbying
styles.
The activities of lobbyists through the functions they have can be the following:
Service functions (the gathering of information);
Lobbying functions;
Decision-making functions;
Implementation functions1.
The creation of the European Single Market and following rise of regulatory authority
of the EU institutions have forced large companies to increase their multi-level lobbying
in an attempt to influence European policy. Business groups now comprise almost twothirds of all European groups2.
Interest groups can be categorized according to:
Organizational type (peak associations/membership associations),
Structure
(traditional
associations/spontaneous,
unconventional
initiatives/movements),
Legal forms,
Motivational character.
According to the kind of interests that the groups pursue, they can be:
1. Public interest groups (serving the society as a whole, for example, for better
consumer protection, improved environmental protection, lower taxes),
2. Private interest groups (with goals for their immediate members only)3.
The Commission also makes a distinction between two categories:
Non-profit organizations (national professionals, European and international
associations and federations);
Profit-making organizations (legal advisers, public-relations firms and
consultants i.e. individuals who often act on the instructions of a third party
to defend the interests of that party)4.
1 EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, Working Paper: Lobbying in the European Union: Current Rules and
Practices, 04-2003.
2 COEN, D., Business Interests and European Integration, in Balme, R., Chabanet, D. and Wright, V.
(eds): Laction collective en Europe, Sciences Po Press, Paris, 2002.
3EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, Working Paper: Lobbying in the European Union: Current Rules and
Practices, 04-2003.

Non-profit organizations include almost 700 groups, divided into categories according
to policy areas, for example:

Agriculture and rural development;


Competition;
Consumer protection;
Culture;
Development;
Economic and financial affairs;
Education;
Employment;
Energy;
Enlargement;
Enterprise;
Environment;
External relations;
External trade;
Fisheries;
Health;
Human Rights;
Humanitarian Aid;
Information Society
Internal market;
Justice and home affairs;
Overall EU policy matters;
Regional policy;
Research;
Social Affairs;
Taxation;
Transport5.

The largest part of all business groups consists of trade associations. There are about
1,000 various trade associations in EU. The European trade association is the official
representative entity of the EU institutions, and gives its members the advantage in
terms of obtaining information and invitations to meetings. Also, the EU trade
association serves as a crucial meeting place for national members6.

4 EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, Working Paper: Lobbying in the European Union: Current Rules and
Practices, 04-2003.
5EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, Working Paper: Lobbying in the European Union: Current Rules and
Practices, 04-2003.
6 GUEGUEN,D.,GovernanceandtheRoleofAssociationsinEconomicManagement:AResponse
fromanEUPublicAffairsPractitioner,in:Greenwood,J.(ed.).TheEffectivenessofEUBusiness
Associations,Palgrave,Basingstoke,2002.

Earlier, the decision-making power in EU trade associations belonged to the national


associations. Nowadays, it is the large companies who are running the show. The
chairman of the EU trade association is usually from a big company. Big companies
also influence seats on the EU trade association committee, the choice of general
secretary, the EU trade associations budget. All these serve as an example of dual
lobbying strategy, when the big company wears the EU trade associations hat when it
has an interest in doing so. Conversely, it will undertake its own lobbying action when
this is to its advantage7.
Overall, there are approximately 950 business interest associations, about 1,300
European Union level groups of all types and around 300 transnational firms with
government relations offices in Brussels. The most effective European groups to attract
members are from business sectors characterized by a relatively high degree of
concentration with only a limited number of potential members 8. One of the most
effective is the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations, while
some of the least effective are tourism related interest groups9.
New technologies create new trends of interest: virtual organizations without
traditional infrastructure like buildings and a permanent secretariat like the European
Modern Restaurants Association (EMRA), representing the interests of fast-food chains
such as McDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut 10. Another example of impact of new
technologies is the merger between two former telecommunications and IT associations
into the European Information and Communication Technologies Association
(EICTA)11.
EU lobbying groups have far less activities comparing to national associations. EU
interest groups usually strive for political representation and seek for information at the
European level. On the other hand, this business representation tries to influence more
than just monitor and simply respond to decisions. Public and private lobbyists
beneficially encourage European Union legislation and also have blocking power to
serve their own interests. From just social interaction and collection of information EU
business associations switched to delivering economic gain and exercising political
lobbying12.

7GUEGUEN,D.,GovernanceandtheRoleofAssociationsinEconomicManagement:AResponsefrom
anEUPublicAffairsPractitioner,in:Greenwood,J.(ed.).TheEffectivenessofEUBusiness
Associations,Palgrave,Basingstoke,2002.
8 GREENWOOD,J.andASPENWALL,M.(eds),CollectiveActionintheEuropeanUnion:Interests
andthenewpoliticsofassociability,Routledge,London,1998.
9EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, Working Paper: Lobbying in the European Union: Current Rules and
Practices, 04-2003.
10 GREENWOOD,J.,InsidetheEUBusinessAssociations,Palgrave,Basingstoke,2002.
11EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, Working Paper: Lobbying in the European Union: Current Rules and
Practices, 04-2003.
12EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, Working Paper: Lobbying in the European Union: Current Rules and
Practices, 04-2003.