, 27 tweets, 24 min read Read on Twitter

..on the biggest and baddest lobbyists in EU town

..the huge influence they have on EU lawmaking

..and how many represent interests from outside the EU.

According to Transparency International @TI_EU, the lobby organisation that has held the most high-level meetings at the European Commission between 2014 and 2018 is @BusinessEurope.

"BusinessEurope?!?" you ask.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope It is hardly surprising that the vast majority of people have never heard of BusinessEurope.

There is a worrying media blackout about how a complex network of organisations lobby the #EU on behalf of the world largest corporations.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope So poor has that coverage been that an often-repeated lie about the EU has become truth in Britain.

It is now incorrectly believed that if you are not a member of the EU, you cannot possibly have a say on EU laws.

That is simply not true.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope There's no denying that you get no votes in the EU Council and Parliament from outside the EU, but argument that it is either full influence within the EU, or zero influence outside it is laughably inaccurate.

Depressingly, it is far too regularly repeated in the media.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope Anyone even slightly familiar with how the EU works knows that non-EU countries, companies and NGOs employ a host of channels to influence lawmaking procedures in Brussels.

They hire thousands and spend millions every year to lobby the three institutions that create EU law.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope Transparency International's excellent Integrity Watch tool is a treasure trove of information on the EU lobbying culture. It shows who has been granted access to the senior unelected members of the EU Commission that draft 1st versions of new EU laws


@TI_EU @BusinessEurope The tool is worth your time if you want a better appreciation of how the EU works behind the doors normally closed to the average voter. It shows what lobby organisations spend, how many staff members they employ and how many access badges to EU institutions they are granted.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope It also has a section that reveals what additional jobs MEPs hold while elected as well as what jobs former MEPs and former EU commissioners have gone on to upon leaving office - the infamous revolving door between politics and business.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope The organisations that secured the most high-level meetings with the EU commission are not what one might expect if one has fallen for the fib that you can't influence the EU as a non-member.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope It shows, without doubt, that non-EU actors enjoy great access to the lawmaking process in Brussels.

US companies such as Google (2nd most meetings), Microsoft (8th) and Facebook (11th) are littered throughout the top performers.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope 160 of the largest US companies are also secured the sixth largest number of meetings as they are represented by the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope All this should come as little surprise. After all, the US helped to design the European project following World War Two.

It bankrolled Europe's reconstruction and has supported the development of the European Union at every step.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope The US and its biggest corporations don't see the EU as a threat.

They see it as a partner very much open to its investment and policy suggestions.

And the same can be said for many other countries outside the EU beyond the US.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope EU lobbying rules grant many non-EU companies access to the unelected officials who draft EU laws.

It permits them multiple channels to lobby EU institutions.

#Brexit debate enthusiasts take note.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope Firms can directly lobby the EU in the name of their corporation - as Google, Microsoft and Facebook do ..

..or they can do so indirectly through a national association like the US chamber of Commerce.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope They can also join with European corporate partners to form very powerful sector-based coalitions such as @DIGITALEUROPE (5th most meetings) or the European Automobile Manufacturers Association @ACEA_eu (9th most meetings).

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu Digital Europe represents the biggest non-EU players in the global digital sector including:

Apple, Amazon, Canon, Samsung, Xerox, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Oracle, Fujitsu, Nvidia, Hitachi, Motorola, Huawei, Mastercard, Intel, LG, Dell, Cisco, among many more.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) similarly represents the globe's largest car manufacturers, including key US, Korean and Japanese players such as Ford, Daimler, Toyota or Hyundai.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu The impressive access that non-EU interests maintain shows how inaccurate the claim that you can't influence EU laws from outside the EU is.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu Unsurprisingly, European organisations also secured many meetings with the EU Commission.

European Farmers @COPACOGECA, which represents European farming and agri-cooperative interests, secured many meetings with the EU commission for that sector.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu @COPACOGECA The aeroplane manufacturer @Airbus also secured numerous meetings, as did the Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs (@beuc), which represents national consumer associations from across Europe.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu @COPACOGECA @Airbus @beuc This brings me finally to where I began - to @BusinessEurope  -  the organisation that secured the most meetings with senior EU Commission staff between 2014 and 2018.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu @COPACOGECA @Airbus @beuc BusinessEurope - or the Confederation of European Business to give it its full name - is a lobby group representing 30 national industry and employers' organisations from EU member states, but, crucially, also representing 10 organisations from outside the EU.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu @COPACOGECA @Airbus @beuc National business associations from Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Iceland and San Marino all lobby with EU partners like the CBI to make sure policies that are passed in Brussels serve rather than harm their interests.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu @COPACOGECA @Airbus @beuc For better or worse, the lobbying culture and institutional makeup of the EU offers non-EU members and their interests a host of avenues  to influence laws.

@TI_EU @BusinessEurope @DIGITALEUROPE @ACEA_eu @COPACOGECA @Airbus @beuc Political debate around the EU today is highly polarised.

It is the duty of all that seek to maintain reason in public discourse to embrace truth and not shy away from uncomfortable facts  -  including those that surround the questionable lobbying culture in Brussels.

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