Brussels is at the centre of EU decision-making and as such attracts thousands of lobbyists, promoting the interests of big business. Easily outnumbering and outspending public interest groups, corporate lobbyists are also given privileged access by the European institutions. The emerging lobbycracy results in flawed policies that put commercial interests above those of people and the environment and undermines the very basis of democracy.
The “revolving door” – which appears to link the EU institutions directly to the private sector, allowing employees to move almost effortlessly between the two – is at the heart of the close relationship between the EU institutions and Brussels’ lobby industry.
The activities of arms lobbyists rarely appear in the media, and when they do, it is often in connection with bribery, dubious export deals and corrupt government officials.
While the public image of arms lobbyists is generally defined by such scandals, there is a more mundane side to their activities which is no less disturbing. This is not only true at a national level, where arms companies have always had close ties with governments and defence departments, but also at the European level.
A short guide to explore the vast lobbying network put in place by the arms industry in Brussels.
The Lisbon Treaty, introduced in 2009, substantially increased the Parliament’s legislative power, making MEPs even more attractive to consultancy firms. The Parliament can now accept, amend or reject the content of European legislation that affects every European – making its decision makers worth knowing.
Its new powers mean that greater scrutiny, transparency and accountability are required to minimize any potential conflict of interest and corruption.
Brussels, 24 May – Transparency campaigners today urged the ad hoc working group examining MEPs' code of conduct, which meets tomorrow, to investigate the role of cross-party MEP-industry forums, after research found that at least 15 of such groups are active in the Parliament but are not regulated .
Corporate Europe Observatory found that many of the groups, which bring together MEPs and business representatives on specific issues, are run by corporate lobbyists, providing privileged access and influence over policy issues.
Giving the European Commission a central and dominant role in EU economic governance, without proper democratic control neither at the European nor at the national level, would be a dream-come-true for industry hardliners BusinessEurope, but a disaster for Europe.
The Euro Pact is a major step towards a corporate model of economic governance in the European Union, which will result in a major attack on social rights and living standards. So far, it looks like the big business lobby is winning the policy battle, at the expense of the rest of society.
Corporate Europe Observatory
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.