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Discuss lobbying as a nonmarket strategy in the European Union.
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Business and Its Environment
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Lobbying is the principal political activity for implementing both representation and informational strategies in the European Union. A lobbyist's strategy is to demonstrate that the interests of a company or industry are aligned with those of the person or office being lobbied. In the case of the European Union, those interests are a mixture of economic efficiency and social objectives at the EU level; sectoral interests in the case of agriculture, steel, or computers; and local interests in the case of some members of the EP and the Council of Ministers.
EU officials face pressures from their home country constituents and from their mandate for economic and political integration. Lobbyists are not required to register with the EU, but estimates put their number at around 15,000. In 2008 the EU adopted a code of conduct for lobbyists and established a voluntary registry.
The European Parliament provides a 1-year pass to its premises in exchange for a lobbyist signing a code of ethical behavior. The EU does not require disclosure of lobbying activity, the funds spent on hired lobbyists, or the policy issue on which the lobbyists work. Former EU and national government officials have formed lobbying firms to represent interests.
EU lobbyists have backgrounds similar to their counterparts in the United States. Companies hire former EU officials, trade negotiators, ambassadors, and former officials of national governments as lobbyists. Lobbying services are also provided by law firms and consultants.
Companies have opened offices in Brussels to be close to the EU and to track its activities. Managers frequently participate in lobbying along with heads of industry associations and peak organizations. In addition, in a number of countries business leaders have close personal relationships with government officials.
Peak associations play a number of roles, including the monitoring of government activities, the funneling of information and expertise from their members to the government, and lobbying.
The key to successful lobbying is the provision of information useful to the institutional officeholders. Successful lobbying requires an understanding of their interests, the relationship between policy alternatives and consequences, and the procedures and practices of EU institutions. Lobbying also takes place within each member state in attempts to convince government officeholders of the importance of the interests affected.
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