The thing constantly putting politics under pressure.
On the European Parliament’s official webpage, I have reported all the meetings I have had with lobbyists. These all add up to...one.
This meeting took place during my first year in Parliament. I discussed EU passenger rights with a representative from a German consumer protection organization.
Members of the European Parliament are “supposed” to keep this list updated. But like so many other things in this Parliament, nothing happens if they fail to fulfill this “duty.” There are no consequences for hiding or lying about one’s participation in a meeting. No one checks the accuracy of this list anyways.
Requiring greater transparency with lobbying is a nice idea in theory, and any efforts in this direction is better than nothing. But in reality lobbying networks are so bound-up with personal and party networks that I’m left without answers.
For example the German Christian Democratic Union, because of its Economic Council, is so institutionally tied to businesses that it cannot be said for sure who its members are representing. As a member of the council, is the head of Allianz pushing his own company’s interest within a democratic party, or is he rather a stalwart party member who just happens to run a company as well? Ok, actually the answer is pretty obvious...
At the Economic Council’s branch in Brussels, business executives and Members of the European Parliament sit happily side by side. You can see for yourself here. You won't find these meetings reported in any lobby register.
And even if they were reported, what would that change? In Brussels, everything is so connected, and the “EU Bubble” covers such a small area, that everyone is always crossing paths with everyone else: politicians, lobbyists, assistants, etc. In such a small town, certain conversations can take place at the grocery store, at private parties, or on a sports field.
The art of influencing has so many facets, and the power of the economy and the pressure of 20,000 lobbyists are so enormous in Brussels, that I don’t really know what would help to counteract it all. An election every five years certainly isn’t nearly enough to establish an equal playing field between voters and businesses.
Nico has so far attended the following lobby events:
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Conclusion: Spaetzle was all gone, so he didn't eat anything
Conclusion: Good food
Conclusion: Very good food
Conclusion: Good food, small portions
Conclusion: Bad food
Conclusion: Bad food, but plenty of wine
Conclusion: Decent food
Conclusion: Pretty good food