New analysis published today by Transparency International reveals that the overwhelming majority of lobby meetings held by European Commissioners and their closest advisors are with representatives of corporate interests. This is just one of the findings from a new lobby monitoring tool launched today at www.integritywatch.eu.
Analysis of the 4,318 lobby meetings declared by the top tier of European Commission officials between December 2014 and June 2015 shows that more than 75% were with corporate lobbyists. This compares to 18% with NGOs, 4% with think tanks and 2% with local authorities. Google, General Electric and Airbus are some of the most active lobbyists at this level, with 25 to 29 meetings each. Google and General Electric are also some of the biggest spenders in Brussels, each declaring EU lobby budgets of around €3.5 million per year.
Of the 7,908 organisations who have voluntarily registered in the EU Transparency Register – the register of EU lobbyists – 4,879 seek to influence political decisions of the European Union on behalf of corporate interests. Exxon Mobil, Shell and Microsoft (all €4.5-5m) are the top three companies in terms of lobby budgets according to their declarations made to the EU Transparency Register.
“The evidence of the last six months suggests there is a strong link between the amount of money you spend and the number of meetings you get”, says Daniel Freund from Transparency International EU. “Those organisations with the biggest lobby budgets get a lot of access, particularly on the financial, digital and energy portfolios.”