Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

  • Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

The financial industry employs 1.700 lobbyists and spends €120 million a year to influence the EU – at least

"The fire power of the financial lobby" infographic

The financial industry spends more than €120 million per year on lobbying in Brussels and employs more than 1.700 lobbyists to influence EU policy-making, according to a study published today by Corporate Europe Observatory, ÖGB Europabüro (Brussels office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation), and AK EUROPA (Brussels office of the Austrian Chamber of Labour).

Kenneth Haar from Corporate Europe Observatory says: “The crisis revealed a clear need for stronger rules on financial markets. But reform has proved difficult, and these numbers are an important part of the explanation. The financial lobby's fire power to resist reform has been evident in all significant battles over financial regulation since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.”

The new report, “The fire power of the financial lobby” shows the financial industry commands tremendous lobbying resources and enjoys privileged access to decision makers. It reveals the financial sector lobbies EU decision-makers via over 700 organisations, including companies' public relations offices, business associations, and consultancies.

This figure outnumbers civil-society organisations and trade unions working on financial issues by a factor of more than five, with an even bigger imbalance when numbers of staff and lobbying expenses are compared. In sum, the financial lobby is massively outspending other actors, by a factor of more than 30.

In order to result in a safe estimate, the survey used the most conservative figures. Therefore, the actual numbers – and the imbalance between different interests – are likely to be far higher. This underestimate is mainly due to the lack of a mandatory register of lobbyists at the EU level that would provide reliable information for proper monitoring.

The report also shows the presence of the financial industry in the EU's official advisory groups that play a key role in helping to shape policy. Similarly, the financial lobby is massively over-represented here: 15 of the 17 expert groups covered by the study were heavily dominated by the financial industry.

Oliver Röpke, from ÖGB Europabüro said: “This situation represents a severe democratic problem that politicians must act on swiftly. A first step is to adopt effective rules on lobbying transparency and strong ethics rules against undue influence.”

Amir Ghoreishi from AK EUROPA said: “Our report shows a deep problem. The fact that the financial lobby is so dominant in advisory groups reveals that the European Commission feels that people representing the financial industry should be allowed to set the agenda. An arms-length principle should be applied immediately.”

 

From the day a referendum on UK membership of the EU was first announced in 2013, the financial sector started using Cameron’s re-negotiation process to promote its deregulatory agenda. Sometimes lobbying was required, but more often the UK government did its work for them. 

The financial sector has used the threat of Brexit via the UK referendum on EU membership to promote its deregulatory agenda since 2013, according to a new study (1) by Corporate Europe Observatory.

The ongoing EU-US trade negotiations, TTIP, seek to bring rules on both sides of the Atlantic together by means of so-called regulatory cooperation. Our new report with LobbyControl "Dangerous Regulatory Duet" finds that regulatory cooperation procedures have already been used to delay, water down and prevent legislation in the public interest.

In 2015 the European Central Bank tightened its ethics rules in the wake of a major scandal over privileged information it gave to select financiers. In the future there will be more restrictions on the way the leadership associates with representatives of financial corporations. But the discoveries from the scandal seems to have no bearing on the way the ECB's top brass deals with the quasi-lobby Group of Thirty. 

The official EU assessment of glyphosate was based on unpublished studies owned by industry. Seven months later, the pesticide industry still fights disclosure and, so far, successfully. We obtained a copy of their arguments.

While CEO is not taking a position on the UK referendum, many of our publications are relevant to those who will have a vote, or those who are following the debate.

Biodiversity collapse, the future of agriculture, politics versus science, EU States and the European Commission shifting blame on each other, industry's capture of the regulatory process through data secrecy, a Commissioner caught between Juncker, EU States, lobby groups, and his own services... The glyphosate saga, coming to the end of its first phase tomorrow, has been an entry point into many broader problems. Overview.

The European Commission proposal on scientific criteria defining endocrine disruptors (EDCs) is the latest dangerous outgrowth of a highly toxic debate. The chemical lobby, supported by certain Commission factions (notably DG SANTE and the Secretary-General) and some member states (UK and Germany), has put significant obstacles in the way of effective public health and environment regulation.

The corporate lobby tour