LobbyFacts, relaunched EU data website, reveals major companies have increased lobby spending by one third
EU data website LobbyFacts.eu, coordinated by lobby watchdogs Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl, shines a light on just how much money has been spent on lobbying in the past seven years, revealing that the companies with the highest declared lobby budgets have increased their spending by a third over this time.
In 2015 the 50 top-declaring companies spent roughly €90 million between them on lobbying. This figure increased to almost €120 million in 2022.
- Shows how the EU lobby landscape has changed: when it comes to the big corporate players, the tech industry has edged out energy at the top of the rankings. In 2015 Apple did not even feature amongst the top 50, whilst today it ranks number 3.
- Highlights the problem of revolving doors: today LobbyFacts reveals that over 70 per cent of Google’s and Meta’s lobbyists have formerly worked for governmental bodies at the EU and member state level. This includes high-level Commission staff and MEPs, through to assistants and interns. In 13 cases the job change to Google or Meta happened within two years and some individuals held a Big Tech lobby pass within just a few months of leaving the public sector.
- Gives a unique historical perspective on lobbying: for example, following the invasion of Ukraine and the EU’s sanctions regime, Russian lobbies have left or been suspended from the EU register and their records are no longer available. But LobbyFacts reveals who they are, when they left the register, and what they used to get up to in Brussels.
- Helps identify and avoid dodgy data in the EU lobby register, which exists because the register is not legally-binding and sanctions are weak for non-compliance. Its filter, rank, and sort functions enable LobbyFacts to more easily expose implausible, missing, or otherwise problematic entries.
Today LobbyFacts shows that 71 per cent of those registrants declaring the highest annual lobby spending in the EU lobby register are likely to be wrong. Specifically, their declared lobby spending seems highly inflated when compared to other indicators of active lobbying.
We also reveal that at least 380 registrants are not declaring any lobby budget when, according to the register’s rules it is likely that they should be, adding to the dodgy data problem. LobbyFacts’ founders Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl have now made an official complaint on these matters.
With this relaunch LobbyFacts is better than ever, with faster speeds and greater functionality. LobbyFacts is a groundbreaking tool for investigating lobbying at the EU level.
Vicky Cann, Researcher and Campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory, said:
“Tracking the rise and fall of key lobbies, exploring revolving doors cases, building a profile of a company in the news, exposing dodgy data… LobbyFacts can help with all this and more.”
Nina Katzemich, Researcher and Campaigner at LobbyControl, said:
“LobbyFacts gives a realistic picture of the lobby scene in Brussels. Today it looks as if Big Tech has taken the mantle from Big Energy.
“But with the energy crisis and EU Green Deal on the political agenda, will this change? LobbyFacts will answer this question in the months to come!”
Notes to editors:
- A webinar will be held on Friday, 23 September. Journalists can register by emailing Lucy Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org
- LobbyFacts takes the official EU lobby transparency register data and presents it in a user-friendly way. Our EU lobby data archive dates back to 2012 and cannot be found anywhere else.
- There is a question of whether Big Oil and Gas will retake the mantle of the biggest spenders; energy companies are not lobbying less. With the current energy crisis together with the Green Deal package, Fit for 55 etc, it is highly plausible that the top 50 biggest spending companies could look different next year, especially considering how much fossil fuels feature on the EU’s political agenda right now.
- The rules concerning revolving doors don’t appear to be taken seriously by institutions. The work of LobbyFacts makes it possible to follow up on who held lobby passes for whom, from 2012 to the present day.
- The revised EU lobby register launched in September 2021 has inadvertently encouraged more dodgy data by removing the requirement for all organisations to provide a lobby budget. For more information see complaint.
- This is 36 of 51 entries which declare €4.5 million or more. None of the 27 entries declaring €10 million+ annual EU lobby spending look plausible when compared to other typical indicators of active EU lobbying. For more information see our complaint to Commissioner Jourová, President Metsola, and the Secretariat-General at the EU Council.