Seminar Paper, 2001
17 Pages, Grade: 1,3 (A)

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1. Introduction

The development of the EU can be described as a dynamic process. From the Treaty of Paris in 1951 to the Treaty of Maastricht 1993 there has been a consequent shift of competences from national to a supra-national level . Commission, Parliament and Council - three organs of the EU, that play the major role in the legislative process- have increasingly gained decision-making power, thus becoming a main target for lobbyism. Lobbyists and interest groups consequently had to adapt to a transforming multi-level system of governance by means of finding new access. Meanwhile it can be observed that throughout the past decades the EU-institutions themselves have established a complex system of consulting committees and advisory groups as they are dependent on expert knowledge and technical information. This part of the paper concentrates on the new form of influence-seeking on a European level, a trend which is increasingly referred to as “Euro-lobbying”.

2. The Development of Lobbying in the EU

2.1 The ECSC

The Treaty of Paris in 1951 was the basis for the foundation of the European Community, which was to become the European Union four decades later. France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries all signed this treaty to form the “European Community of Coal and Steel” ( ECSC). This sectoral unification of a special industry branch was soon accompanied by associations on a European level, who represented

the interests of the affected industries. Not only did lobbying on EU-level evolve on its own initiative, the ECSC treaty itself provided a form of co-operation between the High Authority ( precursor of the Commission) and interest groups. Thus, it was settled to institutionalize hearings of entrepreneurs, employees, and consumers in form of an advisory committee, which was to consult the High Authority in their decision-making.

This early example of institutionalizating organized interests served as a decisive model for the setting-up of further consulting committees, such as the Economic and Social Committee (ESC)1. The High Authority was highly dependent on information, therefore offering many accesses for interests in order to compensate their deficit of technical expertise.

The Coal and Steel community was followed by the Economic Community and the Atomic Energy Community (Treaties of Rome, 1957). By this time, the later EUinstitutions European Commission, European Council, and European Parliament - the three of most importance in connection with lobbyism - already existed.

Alongside with the foundation of the Economic Community and the Commission as the legislative initiative, the number of professional interest groups on European level increased immensely. As Andersen and Eliassen state, 300 Euro-groups were established until 1970, as an result of the Treaties of Rome2. Among them, the peak association of national industrial entrepreneurs, ‘Union des Industries de la Communauté Européenne’ (EUNICE).

This phase from the Treaty of Paris until the direct election of the Parliament was still marked by a deficit of the European Institutions competences. Nevertheless, it led to a growing number of interest groups and lobbying.

2.2 Luxembourg Compromise and Direct Election of the European Parliament

The Luxembourg Compromise of 1966 marks an important turning-point for lobbying strategies. Prior to 1966, the European Council of Ministers had to agree on proposals from the Commission by means of majority decision. The Luxembourg Compromise increased the Council’s decision-making power by giving each national government representative a veto over the Commission’s proposals. This largely affected national interest groups and large enterprises, whose intention was to influence European Community policy. Instead of focusing on the European institutions, lobbying was then “conducted through national political and administrative channels (...), since many groups relied upon national officials and ministers to defend their interests in Brussels”3. This form of indirect lobbying was therefore most common in the 1960´s and 1970´s.

While the European Council was able to improve its position within the decision-making process due to the Luxembourg Compromise, the Direct Election of the European Parliament helped this very institution to gain more influence. The change from the appointment of the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) by the national parliaments to a direct election (1979) led to an increased representativity of the European Parliament. This strengthened position was soon acknowledged by interest groups and international peak associations, such as EUNICE4, which, as a consequence, started to approach the Parliament on a frequent level.

2.3 The Single European Act

The adoption of 1986 Single European Act (SEA) finally led to a mushrooming of lobbies within the European Community. The implications of SEA explain why. First of all, the member states of the European Community agreed on the realisation of an economic and monetary union, which was to be achieved within a relatively short time period. Moreover, the completion of the Single Internal Market was targeted, which meant free movement of goods, services, capital, and labour within the EC.

Both the introduction of the economic and monetary union and the intended establishment of an internal market demanded an extensive programme of legislation measures. In fact, the “White Paper from 1985 compromises 300 measures for the removal of all material, technical and tax barriers between the member states of the European Community”5.

Naturally, the publication of the White Paper resulted in an immense increase of lobbies in Brussels. As these 300 harmonisation measures concerned a wide range of policy areas, the number of interests lobbying the EC institutions literally exploded. According to M.P.C.M. Van Schendelen, about 500 lobby offices, up to 3,000 lobby organizations and almost 10,000 lobbyists were estimated to be located in Brussels in 1990.

It can thus be said that the adoption of the SEA initiated a dramatic increase of lobbying on European level, due to the fact that decision-making competences have shifted from a national to a supra-national level.

While lobbyism on European level has noticeably developed in terms of quantity after the introduction of the SEA, a changement of lobbying strategies can likewise be observed on account of the modified competences of Commission, Parliament and Council. Owing to the co-operation procedure, the SEA has strengthened the Parliament’s legislative role in order to facilitate the attainment of the internal market and the economic and monetary union6. The role of the Council has also gained importance, as the Ministers were freed from the need to decide in unanimity upon proposals pertaining to the internal marked. Again, lobbying strategies and targets had to adapt to these transformations.

2.4 The Treaty of Maastricht on European Union

With the Treaty of Maastricht, which came into force in 1993, the European Community, together with the common foreign and security policy and the “Zentrale Innen-und Justizpolitik” (ZIJ), has been integrated as one of the three pillars of the European Union. In a nutshell, the Treaty of Maastricht basically presents a continuation of the goals that the SEA has already laid the foundation for: further shifting of sovereignty rights from the member states to the EU7.

Again, it was primarily the European Parliament which was to gain more power, due to the co-decision procedure. Having already been granted to an opportunity to propose amendments by means of the co-operation procedure (SEA), the new treaty now provided the Parliament with a special veto-power on important questions.

Alongside with the European Union Act, another growth of organized lobbying could be observed. According to the ”European Affairs Directory” of 1996, ”828 Eurogroups, 320 representatives of firms, 131 national interest groups, 107 liaison offices of European and non-European regions, 142 consultants and 160 lawyers competent in Union affairs ( are) located in Brussels”8, not to mention the innumerous lobbyists who are not officially registered.

3. Addressees of EU - Lobbying

As outlined in the previous section, there has been a dynamic shift of competences towards the European Institutions. Commission, Parliament, and Council all hold an essential position in the decision-making process. Their roles, however, are of different natures, just as their accessibility from a lobbyists´ point of view. Within the context of how lobbyism occurs on European level, a distinction in structure, membership and working methods of the three organs has to be drawn.

3.1 The European Commission

In terms of lobbying the EU, the Commission as the executive arm plays the most important role. Its membership consists of two members from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as one member from the other Community countries ( Ireland, Benelux, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Portugal).

The Commission on the one hand represents the guardian of the treaties and has to control that treaty provisions and decisions are correctly applied. Of more importance in connection with lobbyism is the Commission’s role as the ”catalyst of the union”9. It has the exclusive right to initiate legislation, becoming therefore very attractive for lobbyists. Another argument reflecting the Commission’s strong position, is the fact that the Council can only decide upon changements of a proposal with unanimity, whereas the Commission itself is able to withdraw or change its proposal at any time if the Council has not yet agreed on it10.

An essential role for lobbyists plays the hierarchy of the Commission, which can be compared best to a pyramid. The top is represented by the president, leading the organ of twenty commissioners. Each commissioner has a cabinet, whose cabinet members can serve as helpful contacts. Not only do they prepare the decisions of the

Commission and have thus a great overview over the present situation, they are furthermore regarded as ”gatekeepers” for groups seeking access to the Commission11.

The Commission´s hierarchy continues downwards to twenty-three Directorates- General (DGs), headed by a Director-General who is responsible for a specific policy area. Maurer has illustrated this pyramid of the Commission´s structure in his book ”Eurolobbying”12:

Figure 1

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Maurer (1994, p.76)

Taking into consideration, that the illustrated Commission bureaucracy compromises about 16,000 officials13, and that most Commission proposals emerge from a low level, it goes without saying how innumerous access points for lobbying the Commission are.

With reference to the previous sector, it has already been pointed out that the Commission itself has even institutionalised organised interests through committee structures. Mainly due to the fact, that ”the Commission´s personnel resources are by far not sufficient to allow the Commission the accomplishment of her tasks totally autonomously”14, over 1000 committees have come into existence for consulting purposes. Among lobbyists, membership in those consultative committees are of high value, as they might have immense influence in the drafting period of a proposal.

3.2 The European Parliament

Within the European Integration, the European Parliament has increasingly become the target of lobbyism. On account of the introduction of the co-operation procedure (SEA), which was followed by the co-decision procedure (Maastricht), the Parliament has changed ”from a mere forum for public discussion to an essential player within the game”15.

Having already outlined some features of the Parliament above, a few particularities demand further explanation, though. In contrast to Council and Commission, members of the Parliament (MEPs) are elected directly and come from different parties of the 15 member states. Whereas approaching lower officials was more effective in the Commission, personal contacts to one of the 626 MEPs him/herself is indispensable for lobbying the Parliament.

Staying with the comparison to the Commission, the European Parliament, too, makes use of hearings in order to gather technical information. As the Parliament has to decide upon the Commission´s legislative proposals, special committees are set up to scrutinize the respective proposals, hereby becoming popular lobbying-contacts.

According to Kohler-Koch, the Parliament principally attracts ”weak” interest groups ( e.g. small and medium sized enterprises, SMEs) from the issue areas of low-politics, because ”the European Parliament is eager to take up those issues which attracts a lot of public attention and where the EP can show itself as the ”real” representative of the European public”16. Basically out of financial reasons, interest groups with limited resources focus on the EP. In spite of its increasing impact, however, the EP remains the less important place for lobbying than the Commission.

3.3 The European Council of Ministers

The European Council of Ministers - the legislative branch of the EU - differs from the EP and the Commission in a sense, that it is less ‘European’ than the latter two. Compromising representatives at ministerial level of each member state, the Council is rather considered to be an ”intergovernmental institution”17, in which each member represents his/ her respective government. With regard to ist impermanent membership

- participants change according to the subject under discussion18 - direct lobbying of Council members is less effective.

The Council´s main task is to either accept or reject proposals from the Commission. As already mentioned, Council members represent their national interests, impeding therefore the process of consent finding. For this purpose, national officials of ambassadorial rank from the member states have formed two Committees of Permanent Representatives (COREPER ), ”to prepare acceptable policy compromises - usually in the form of complicated package-deals”19

Like in the case of the Commission and Parliament, the Council´s role in the legislature procedure has changed, as well. Whereas - from a lobbyist´s perspective-the Parliament´s importance has dramatically grown, influence -seeking on the European Council has rather diminished. Since the introduction of majority voting (SEA) in many policy areas, lobbying exclusively the national government of the home country has become insufficient. Hence, in order to gather either a blocking minority or a qualified majority, alliances to other member states, as well, have to be established20.

4. Lobbying Strategies in the EU

Keeping the structure of Commission, Parliament and Council in mind, as well as their role within the decision-making process, different strategies for lobbying can be observed. Both, the relevant addressee and the right time play significant key roles for approaching the EU-organs. In this connection, aiming influence exclusively on EU-level is not sufficient for effective lobbying. With regard to the multi-level-structure of the EU, national governments and their legislative competences should not be underestimated.

4.1 When to Lobby and Who

The legislative procedure on EU-level is of rather complex nature. Julien21 however, has developed a clear illustration, comparing the lobbyists action with the respective phase of legislation, see Figure 2. For the sake of simplicity, this figure has been confined to the most important organs and phases within the decision-making process. For more detailed information, however, additional remarks are of importance.

First of all, the significance of the appropriate time for contacting the competent official has to be stressed. The lobbyist therefore needs exact knowledge of the legislative procedure with ist key moments. As the time factor plays a major role within the decision-making process, an effective lobbying strategy strongly aims at approaching the responsible EU-official as soon as possible22.

Within this context, Figure 2 gives a clear idea which EU - organs and members of consulting committees are to approach in the relevant phase of the legislative procedure. Köppl23, however, emphasizes the importance of lobbying especcially those officials who are positioned at the very beginning of the decision-making process, ”at the lowest possible level”. In his opinion, lobbying is only most effective, when targeted at officials who are in charge of the drafting period.

The Legislation Procedure Lobbyist´s action

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

4.2 Multi-Channel-Strategies

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2, source: Pfeifer (1994, p. 90)

It has been outlined above, that within the European Integration, decision-making competences have shifted from national to supra-national level. In the course of the policy-making cycle, however, ”the arena changes from one level of government to the other and European decision-making is still a mix of intergovernmental and supra- national bargaining”24. Influence-seeking in this complex system of governance, which is commonly regarded as the EU´s multi-layer-structure, therefore demands for ”multi- channel-strategies”.

With regard to the decision-making power of the national governments, it is thus less efficient to focus exclusively on lobbying one or more EU-institutions. Due to the EU´s multi-layer-structure, lobbying can be conducted through diverse levels. Within this context, Van Schendelen25 distinguishes between a national, international and transnational level, on each of which MNEs and large companies can join trade organizations, Chambers of Commerce and sectoral umbrellas. Hence, joining collective platforms in the home country, another member state and on European level represents an optimal strategy for adapting to the EU´s policy-making, since it offers a wide range of access points.

While one trend is to establish vertical linkages to sector specific interest organizations, horizontal groupings on national and European level can also be observed. One example of a horizontal grouping is the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), whose members come from a diversity of industrial branches (see 5.1) from all member states and who have founded this collective platform on a European level.

Naturally, financial resources play a key role in quality and quantity of lobbying platforms. To a large MNE, such as Daimler-Chrysler for example ( see 4.2), more dimensions of lobbying strategies open up than to a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).

In short, successful lobbying demands a complex system of national, international and transnational networks. In order to gain influence in the EU policy-making, a multi- channel-strategy - targeted on different levels, alone or together on collective platforms, directly targeted on the EU-institutions or indirectly pursued through national governments - is indispensable.

5. Example of EU-Lobbying: The European Round Table of Industrialists

The possibly most well-known horizontal grouping of lobbyists on European level is the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), consisting of 45 ”captains of industry”. Its membership composes of large MNE´s, such as British Petroleum, Daimler- Chrysler, Fiat, Ericsson, Bayer and Siemens, just to name a few. With a combined turnover of 550 billion Euro and more than 3 million employees worldwide26, the ERT represents an impressive example of how organized interests can gain influence within the European decision-making process.

When the ERT was founded in 1983, it was mainly for the purpose of getting a voice in Brussels. Since then, the ERT has not only become ”part of the game”, but also a highly influential driving force in many policy areas, such as the European Single Market, European Monetary Union, the Channel Tunnel and the Trans-European Roads Programme. Nowadays, their influence on the legislative procedure has reached a level, where ”the Commission jumps to attention, when the ERT issues a new report”27. With reference to the ERT´s first campaign - the pushing of the Single Market - linkages to the Commission as well as other lobbying strategies become clear. Bearing the Commission´s openness towards interests groups in mind (see 3.1), it is not surprising that ”the Roundtable was enthusiastically supported by the European Commission”28.

When the ERT launched a report in 1984 demanding the removal of trade barriers,

harmonization of regulation and abolishment of fiscal frontiers, primarily their alliance to the Commission led to a quick success. In fact, the 1985 White Paper ”Completion of the Internal Market” (see 1.3), which became the basis of the 1986 SEA, was based on the ERT´s report29.

Further lobbying strategies included linkages to the national governments to convince each member state of the advantages of a unified home market. In order to ensure the implementation of the White Paper, the ERT additionally founded the ”Internal Market Support Committee” (IMSC) which maintained a close contact between ERT members and the Commission.

The introduction of the Single Market, however, is only one example of the ERT´s successful lobbying efforts in Brussels. Nevertheless, it clearly exemplifies how single players can become part of the game by means of getting organized on a European level.

List of References

Andersen, Svein S.; Eliassen, Kjell A. (1996): The European Union: How Democratic Is It?, Sage Publication

Ballmann, A.: Infranationalism and the Community Governing Process , Site visited: November 24, 2000

Doherty, Anne; Hoedeman, Olivier; Ecologist, Vol 24. No. 4 (1994); Misshaping Europe - The European Round Table of Industrialists

Site visited: November 27, 2000

Eising, Rainer; Kohler-Koch, Beate (1994): Politische Vierteljahresschrift: Staat und Verbände - Inflation und Zerfaserung: Trends in der Interessenvermittlung in der Europäischen Gemeinschaft, Westdeutscher Verlag

EU Site visited on November 11, 2000

Fischer, Klemens H. (1997): Lobbying und Kommunikation in der Europäischen Union, Berlin Verlag

Kohler-Koch, Beate (1997): Organized Interests in the EC and the European Parliament, European Integration online Papers (EIoP) N° 9, Site visited: November 11, 2000

Köppl, Peter (1998): Lobbying als strategisches Interessensmanagement; in: Lobby Management: Chancen und Risiken vernetzter Machtstrukturen im Wirtschaftsgefüge, Scheff/ Gutschelhofer (Hrsg.), Wien, Linde Verlag

Maurer, Leopold (1994): Euro-Lobbying, Wien, Orac Verlag

Mazey, Sonia P.; Richardson, Jeremy J. (1993): Pressure Groups - Interest Groups in the European Community, Oxford University Press

Pfeifer, Georg (1994): Eurolobbyismus, Europäische Hochschulschriften, Peter Lang

Schumann, Wolf (1994): Europäische Integration und Verbandliche

Interessenvermittlung (Hrsg.: Eichener, Voelzkow); Das politische System der Europäischen Union als Rahmen für Verbandsaktivitäten, Metropolis-Verlag

Tarnawska, Katarzyna (1993): The Evolution of Lobbying in the European Union,

Site visited: November 19, 2000

Traxtler, Franz; Schmitter, Philippe C. (1994): Europäische Integration und

Verbandliche Interessenvermittlung (Hrsg.: Eichener, Voelzkow); Perspektiven europäischer Integration, verbandlicher Interessenvermittlung und Politikformulierung, Metropolis-Verlag

Van Schendelen, M.P.C.M. (1993): National Public and Private EC Lobbying, Ashgate

no name; Corporate Europe Observatory (1997); Europe Inc., Chapter 2.1; Writing the Script: The European Round Table of Industrialists, Site visited: November 25, 2000


1 see Pfeifer (1994 ), p. 33

2 see Andersen and Eliassen (1996 ), p. 44

3 Mazey and Richardson ( 1993 ), p. 192

4 see Pfeifer (1994 ), p. 39

5 Pfeifer (1994 ), p. 40

6 see Mazey and Richardson (1993 ), p. 193

7 see Traxtler and Schmitter (1994), p. 47

8 Tarnawska (1999 ), p.1

9 see EU

10 see Fischer (1997 ), p. 49

11 see Mazey and Richardson (1993 ), p. 200

12 see Maurer ( 1994 ), p. 76

13 see Fischer (1997 ), p. 17

14 see Ballmann

15 see Ballmann

16 see Kohler-Koch

17 see Pfeifer (1994 ), p. 87

18 see Mazey and Richardson (1993 ), p. 204

19 see Mazey and Richardson ( 1993 ), p. 204

20 see Schumann (1994), p. 82

21 see Pfeifer (1994 ), p. 90

23 see Köppl (1998), p. 25

24 see Kohler-Koch (1997), p. 3

22 see Pfeifer (1994), p. 75

25 see Van Schendelen (1993), p. 10

26 see Europe Inc.

27 Ecologist

28 see Europe Inc.

29 see Ecologist

17 of 17 pages


Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg
Seminar: Issues in International Entrepreneurship
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Euro-Lobbying, Seminar, Issues, International, Entrepreneurship
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Astrid Vogel (Author), 2001, Euro-Lobbying, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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