We won! Commission cancels contract with Google’s ally
We have good news. Following our complaint, the European Commission has announced it will cancel a contract on merger policy research with Google’s close friend - a consultancy firm called RBB Economics.
RBB Economics is an inconspicuous but influential competition consultancy which represents some of the largest monopolies in the world and has been involved in many of the most controversial high-profile mergers in recent history. Operating out of the spotlight of the EU Transparency Register, the firm has been lobbying for years in favour of weak enforcement of the EU’s merger rules, and against key provisions of the Digital Markets Act. It is also known for having a close relationship to Google, a company that has come under increasing criticism in recent years for its monopolistic behaviour.
The Commission’s contract allowed RBB Economics to be part of the small circle steering the EU’s approach to mergers: the result would likely have been even bigger and even more dominating for corporations.
The European Commission’s decision to cancel this contract is a direct result of the complaint we filed with LobbyControl to the European Ombudsman. As a result the Ombudsman opened an inquiry on the Commission, which over the summer announced it will drop RBB Economics as a contractor!
Along with the Change Finance coalition, we made a similar complaint in 2020 when the Commission shockingly hired the biggest asset manager in the world (with major investments in fossil fuel companies) to advise it on sustainable investment policies. Unfortunately in that case the Commission decided to ignore our complaint and kept its contract with BlackRock. In contrast, today we celebrate its decision to cancel its contract with a company representing Big Tech’s interests.
Big Tech lobby power continues to grow
When we published a report with LobbyControl on Big Tech lobbying in Brussels in 2021, the numbers were already shocking: over €97 million spent on lobbying the EU! LobbyControl’s recent update reveals that the tech industry has increased its spending in just two years by 16.5 per cent: to €113 million. The top 10 digital groups alone – including Meta, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon – are responsible for over a third of the overall sector's lobbying spending, with a lobbying budget of €40 million.
As Big Tech lobbying steps up its spending like this, we need to keep fighting to make sure these ever-more monopolistic corporations are kept at bay when it comes to defending our privacy and our rights. The recent success of RBB’s cancelled contract shows that we can win. We need to build on this success and make sure consultancies and companies with clear vested interests will not be hired again to issue policy advice. Support us and help us keep fighting the good fight!
Belén, Kees, Nina, Bram, Karin, Vicky, Joana, Kat, Olivier, Pascoe, Kenneth, Sarah, and João