The new era of lobbying - Chapter 2 : The three pathways of lobbying.

Alain-Patrick Umucyo By Alain-Patrick Umucyo, 31st Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/d4uosee5/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Ethics

Lobbying can be divided into three different pathways : the optimisation of the economic activities, the social representation and the political representation. These three intertwined paths are extensively traversed in the course of a career.

1- The optimisation of the economic activities.


On 30 September 2014, the project LobbyFacts was officially launched on the internet.1 Its aim is, among others, to “Increase awareness about lobbying influence in the EU”.2 To this end, the website gives access to various statistics revealing the nature of lobbying at the EU level. However “Many of the rankings presented (…) on this website reveal that there are ongoing problems with the reliability of the data in the EU’s transparency register”.3 The latter is the main source of LobbyFacts.

The lack of reliability regarding the informations from the register requires great care when dealing with the detailed data of each organisation. Nevertheless, the trends exposed by these data are relevant sources of analysis. Indeed, they are based on a sufficiently important amount of evidences which diminish problematic aspect of individual datasets related to a sole organisation.

A first trend relates to the “Distribution of lobbying organisations by country”4. Among the five most lobby-populated States, four are the leading economies of the European Union.5 Finance has taken these major continental powerhouses in a firm grasp. That is perceivable as well in the lobbying realm at the EU level.

In April 2014, the group Corporate Europe Observatory published the first “comprehensive survey of size and power in the EU” of the “financial lobby”.6 This ensemble is fragmented into “700 organisations”7. Overall, 1700 lobbyists were counted. This amounts to “four (lobbyists) for every one financial civil servant”.8

Unsurprisingly, the top 3 lobby companies are active in the domain of finance.9 Fleishman-Hillard, Burson-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton are also competitors in the areas of consumer products, healthcare, public affairs and “technology communications”.10 The narrow meaning of 'lobbying' relates to the public affairs sector.11 Notwithstanding, this activity is only efficient with a clear understanding of the economic sectors whose interests are to be promoted. Each sector has its troubled times. This is the case of the consumer products area.

2- The social representation.


On 24 April 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza12 in Bangladesh “cast a dazzling light on the work conditions of seamstresses, who were forced to work regardless of the cracks in the walls. A year and half later, Gerd Müller (…), the federal minister for economic cooperation and development, wants to impose on the German clothing sector clear, strict guidelines for the production abroad (…) However, the sector is divided.”13 To clarify the position of the firms in that sector, executives remain silent, lobbyists are on the front line.

To the conservative daily newspaper Die Welt, the chief spokesman of the federation of German textile and clothing industries explains why the members will not be part of the movement called for by the federal minister.14 He says first that the firms aim unreservedly to improving the social and environmental conditions of the international clothing industries as well as the living conditions of the people in the countries of production.

The spokesman of the German federation of retailers repeats the same idealistic goal to the daily Die Tageszeitung, located on the left side of the political spectrum.15 He puts forth two reasons explaining why the retailers are not going to support the ministerial action.16 The first one is practical : the environmental standards that the federal government tries to impose forbid the use of chemicals which cannot be completely replaced for the moment.17 The second reason is a pure lobbying trick. The spokesman observes that “regarding the social standards : we can engage ourselves in putting unions in place because” States like Myanmar do not provide for a union system.18 The lobbyist is perfectly playing its role, consisting in making “sure that operations organised in areas with loose legal constraint will not be excluded when the law exerts its full force.”19

Lobbyists do not act solely for private interests. They can work for public institutions. That is particularly observable in the English-speaking countries.

3- The political representation.


On 17 October 2014, “President Barack Obama announced that he would be appointing Ron Klain as an additional Ebola czar”.20 On the same day, The Federalist reported the news with the title : “(...) Ron Klain Is A Long-Time Lobbyist, Democratic Operative”.21 The author, Sean Davis, draws attention on this suspicious appointment. He notes that this additional czar “has no medical, scientific, or federal agency administrative expertise, but he has a whole lot of political experience.”22

The White House confirmed that “what we were looking for is not an Ebola expert”.23 And Sean Davis to conclude : “Ebola is a political problem for the White House, not a public health problem for the nation. You don’t pick a former White House staffer to run a massive public health effort if you think you have a public health problem. You pick a former White House staffer if you view this as a political problem to be managed for the remaining weeks heading into the election.”24 The latter is coming on 4 November 2014.25

The European Union has outpaced the United States regarding the role of political representation assumed by lobbyists. The group Corporate Europe Observatory has exposed undeniable lobbyists in the new European Commission.26 This institution now counts, among others :
- “an ex-corporate lobbyist”27 for the financial industry, Jonathan Hill, in charge of “Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union”28 ;
- “a former vice-president of the industry lobby group Le Cercle de l'Industrie29, Pierre Moscovici, in charge of “Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs”30

The reigning presence of the “financial lobby” at the EU level is confirmed. It is not going to change any soon considering that “MEPs failed to secure any additional lobby safeguards on Hill ie. that he would not” pursue its lobbying activity “while commissioner.”31

The present chapter is part of The new era of lobbying volume.

SOURCES


1 CORPORATE EUROPE OBSERVATORY. Hard facts on Europe's biggest lobbyists revealed for the first time . 30 September 2014. Corporate Europe. <http://corporateeurope.org/pressreleases/2014/09/hard-facts-europes-biggest-lobbyists-revealed-first-time> accessed 24 October 2014

2 LOBBYFACTS. About LobbyFacts. . LobbyFacts. <http://www.lobbyfacts.eu/about> accessed 30 October 2014

3 VICKY.CANN. Rankings reveal unreliable data EU lobby register . 30 September 2014. LobbyFacts. <http://www.lobbyfacts.eu/news/25-09-2014/rankings-reveal-unreliable-data-eu-lobby-register> accessed 30 October 2014

4 LOBBYFACTS. Distribution of lobbying organisations by country . LobbyFacts. <http://www.lobbyfacts.eu/reports/interest-by-country> accessed 30 October 2014

5 Ibidem

6 CORPORATE EUROPE OBSERVATORY. The fire power of the financial lobby . 09 April 2014. Corporate Europe. <http://corporateeurope.org/financial-lobby/2014/04/fire-power-financial-lobby> accessed 30 October 2014

7 Ibidem

8 Ibidem

9 UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. Top 3 Lobby companies in Brussels - Sectors of activity . 24 October 2014. Google Drive. <https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1UhEMcjWapgrd970aESbidmIvIBJufpYLSs_JruPyhlU/edit#gid=0> accessed 30 October 2014

10 Ibidem

11 UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of lobbying - Chapter 1 : The Uber example . 17 October 2014. Wikinut. <http://business.wikinut.com/Why-firms-need-lobbyists-now-more-than-ever-I.-The-Uber-example./3ju4h9zf/> accessed 30 October 2014

12 WIKIPEDIA. 2013 Savar building collapse . Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Savar_building_collapse> accessed 31 October 2014

13 WINTER Thorsten. Textilbündnis entzweit heimische Modehändler . 16 October 2014. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. <http://www.faz.net/aktuell/rhein-main/textilbuendnis-strengere-richtlinien-fuer-mode-produktion-13209149.html> accessed 31 October 2014

14 SIEMS Dorothea. "Ein Boykott wäre eine humanitäre Katastrophe" . 13 October 2014. Die Welt. <http://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article133195196/Ein-Boykott-waere-eine-humanitaere-Katastrophe.html> accessed 31 October 2014

15 MAURIN Jost. Lobbyist zu Standards der Textilindustrie : „Der Weg ist noch nicht klar“ . 17 October 2014. taz.de. <https://www.taz.de/Lobbyist-zu-Standards-in-Textilindustrie/!147884/> accessed 31 October 2014

16 Ibidem

17 Ibidem

18 Ibidem

19 UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of lobbying - Chapter 1 : The Uber example . 17 October 2014. Wikinut. <http://business.wikinut.com/Why-firms-need-lobbyists-now-more-than-ever-I.-The-Uber-example./3ju4h9zf/> accessed 31 October 2014

20 DAVIS Sean. New Ebola Czar Ron Klain Is A Long-Time Lobbyist, Democratic Operative . 17 October 2014. The Federalist. <http://thefederalist.com/2014/10/17/new-ebola-czar-ron-klain-is-a-long-time-lobbyist-democratic-operative/> accessed 31 October 2014

21 Ibidem

22 Ibidem

23 EARNEST Josh. 10/17/14: White House Press Briefing . 17 October 2014. Youtube. 11:50 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYvZW0yTJ_o&list=UUYxRlFDqcWM4y7FfpiAN3KQ> accessed 31 October 2014

24 DAVIS Sean. New Ebola Czar Ron Klain Is A Long-Time Lobbyist, Democratic Operative . 17 October 2014. The Federalist. <http://thefederalist.com/2014/10/17/new-ebola-czar-ron-klain-is-a-long-time-lobbyist-democratic-operative/> accessed 31 October 2014

25 WIKIPEDIA. United States elections, 2014 . Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_elections,_2014> accessed 27 October 2014

26 CORPORATE EUROPE OBSERVATORY. New infographics expose corporate backgrounds of new EU commissioners . 29 September 2014. Corporate Europe. <http://corporateeurope.org/revolving-doors/2014/09/new-infographics-expose-corporate-backgrounds-new-eu-commissioners> accessed 27 October 2014

27 CORPORATE EUROPE OBSERVATORY. MEP vote allows Juncker Commission marred by conflicts of interest off-the-hook . 22 October 2014. Corporate Europe. <http://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2014/10/mep-vote-allows-juncker-commission-marred-conflicts-interest-hook> accessed 27 October 2014

28 EUROPEAN COMMISSION. Towads the Juncker Commission – Commissioners-designate . European Commission. <http://ec.europa.eu/about/juncker-commission/commissioners-designate/index_en.htm#comm_24> accessed 31 October 2014

29 CORPORATE EUROPE OBSERVATORY. MEP vote allows Juncker Commission marred by conflicts of interest off-the-hook . 22 October 2014. Corporate Europe. <http://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2014/10/mep-vote-allows-juncker-commission-marred-conflicts-interest-hook> accessed 27 October 2014

30 EUROPEAN COMMISSION. Towads the Juncker Commission – Commissioners-designate . European Commission. <http://ec.europa.eu/about/juncker-commission/commissioners-designate/index_en.htm#comm_21> accessed 31 October 2014

31 CORPORATE EUROPE OBSERVATORY. MEP vote allows Juncker Commission marred by conflicts of interest off-the-hook . 22 October 2014. Corporate Europe. <http://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2014/10/mep-vote-allows-juncker-commission-marred-conflicts-interest-hook> accessed 31 October 2014

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