Lobbying

In light of the lobby night happening on the 26th of October, the media team presents you with an introduction to lobbying in the energy sector inside the EU. In addition, you can find instructions for the lobby night and your role in it at the end of the article.

Lobbying inside the European energy market.

Across the EU there is an expected fifteen thousand to thirty thousands lobbyists. Lobbyist consist of large companies and firms that try and persuade the EU institutions to influence the law in the favour of their interests. Lobbying by interest groups happens on many levels; from trying to influence the Commission, to individual countries as well as members of the European Parliament. This article will look at the influence of different interest groups within the energy sector in Europe .

The energy lobby has its own method of working. In the energy sector, interest groups normally show up together bundling their lobbying potential. This differs from other sectors, where lobbyists meet with the Commission on their own more often. Much of the activity is focused on the office of the  Commission for Climate Action and Energy . Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete  registered more contacts with lobby organizations than any other Commission official — bar none. The top industry lobbyists on energy and environment, ranked by the number of meetings, are the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), and Eurelectric, the European electricity industry association.

The first energy company to appear in its own right is General Electric, which comes in at No. 5 on the list, while Italian energy giant ENEL and the French ENGIE are also less prominent in their lobbying activities than the umbrella organizations of which they are members.Pro-environment NGOs work in loose coalitions and often find ways to sit around the same table. They achieve this with ad hoc alliances as well as lobbying platforms, such as Climate Action Network (CAN Europe).Many of their joint efforts to shift policy involve taking part in roundtable discussions.

However some would argue that European Commission’s so-called “Better Regulation” agenda, which is an internal process give too much power to lobbyist. On one hand. “Better Regulation” is promoted as being about cutting unnecessary administrative burdens or red tape at the EU level allowing smaller charity organisations, in particular to be heard.On the other it threatens essential environmental safeguards and citizens’ rights giving too much more to unelected officials highlighted in the revolving door between industry and the Commission.Without doubt, the processes are creating obstacles and delays for decision-makers who want to introduce new regulations, and they risk creating “regulatory chill” as lawmakers are discouraged from introducing new measures in the public interest.

Lobbyist can be understood as an external, innovative addition to policy making in Europe, and on the other hand a hindrance to the decision-making process. We want to hear what you think.  “Do you think lobbying is an addition to or a hindrance of democratic decision-making?”

 

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Article and Infographic by Kevin Boland.