Corporate Europe Observatory launches latest 'Lobby Planet' guide to Brussels

BRUSSELS: A group aiming to ‘curb the power’ of corporate lobbyists held a walking tour of the ‘the streets, squares and offices’ popular among EU lobbyists to mark the launch of the latest edition of a mickey-taking ‘Lobby Planet’ guide.

Lobby Planet (c) Corporate Europe Observatory
Lobby Planet (c) Corporate Europe Observatory

The first edition of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO’s) ‘Lobby Planet’ – modelled on travel-guide series Lonely Planet – was produced in 2004. The new, fourth edition contains three ‘thematic’ tours, highlighting the ‘carbon lobby, the finance lobby and the agribusiness lobby’.
Corporate Europe Observatory’s Olivier Hoedeman said: “Brussels is home to an incredible number of lobbyists, drawn by the easy opportunities to influence decision-making in the European Union. And of course, big business interests dominate. Many people do not realise how powerful these lobbyists have become. That is why we’ve produced Lobby Planet – to put Brussels’ industry lobbyists on the map and highlight the role they play.”
You can access a ‘pdf’ of the guide at Corporate Europe Observatory’s website. CEO is also selling ‘hard copies’ for €5.

BRUSSELS TIPS: 'The EU lobbyists' tool box'
The text below is taken (abridged) from p10 of ‘Lobby Planet – Brussels, the EU quarter’

1 Set up shop in Brussels
It helps to be where the action is. And if you can afford it, a prestigious office will enhance your status. Hundreds of large corporations have their own Brussels office.
2 Be an expert
The Commission has more than 1,000 advisory groups (many of which are described as expert groups). Being in such a group allows privileged access to policy-making. These groups often put forward the first draft proposals for new EU laws and policies. Industry lobbyists have found their way on to many of these advisory groups – over 100 of these groups are entirely dominated by big business lobbyists.
3 Headhunt an EU decision-maker
In 2010, no fewer than six out of 13 departing ex-Commissioners went through the revolving door from the Commission to private-sector jobs that in many cases involved lobbying. Commission officials, MEPs and MEP advisers are all in demand – and industry lobby groups are eager to hire them.
4 Pay a think-tank to promote your agenda
It is so much easier to convince policymakers if they hear your message coming from somebody else, and even more so if it comes from a well-established think-tank.
5 Hire a law firm to draft your amendments
Many MEPs will gratefully use your amendments, especially if they are drafted professionally. That’s where the law firms come in. If they do their job right, your involvement will be invisible and your amendments will be passed.
6 Mingle with MEPs
Get the time and attention of MEPs (and their assistants) and nurture informal relations by setting up your own MEP-industry forum, inviting MEPs to swanky receptions, taking them on expenses-paid trips or inviting them to dinner.
7 Establish a front group
Want to disguise your lobbying? Worried that legislators might spot your profit motives if you put forward your own arguments? Then set up a front group to argue your case – or even better, persuade an NGO to campaign on your behalf.
8 Scaremonger about job losses
Warn the Commission and MEPs that the policy proposal that you want to get rid of will cause job losses, or affect EU competitiveness; threaten to leave Europe because of rising costs.
9 Bury unwanted measures in process
If you want to stop a new piece of legislation you can always try to delay or weaken the proposals. Argue that more study is needed; advocate setting up a special taskforce; propose a voluntary business code of conduct.
10 Distract
Try to focus the political debate on a side issue in order to smuggle in the main items on your political agenda and have them passed unnoticed.

10th October 2011 by PAN staff

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