It highlighted the increasingly bitter debate over the amount of lobbying going on in Brussels behind closed doors — epitomized by the secretive nature of the Transatlantic Trade and Investments Partnership (TTIP), the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations.
Transparency International's analysis of EU lobbying shows that there are 37,350 lobbyists involved in Brussels, 26,480 of which held at least one lobby pass for the parliament or had access to high level meetings.
According to the EU itself, around 33,000 people are employed by the European Commission, 6,000 in the European Parliament and around 3,500 people work in the general secretariat — a total of 45,500, meaning that the ratio of lobbyists to EU bureaucrats is nearing one-to-one.
The lobbying situation is made worse when looking at the 9,860 organizations currently registered on the voluntary EU lobby register, which declare a total of 91,251 people involved in their lobbying activities towards the EU institutions — twice the number of EU employees. However, Transparency International says the lobby register is not an accurate guide to the real picture, given its voluntary nature.
According to Transparency International, the US$1.6 billion industry of Brussels lobbyists involves over 7,000 meetings in the last year alone with high-level Commission officials. With 75% of the total, meetings with corporate lobbyists dominate the Commission's agenda and tech, finance and energy companies take the lead.
Daniel Freund from Transparency International EU in his latest blog said:
"Based on these findings, a conservative estimate for the number of Brussels lobbyists is 25,000 with a further 10-15,000 lobbyists across Europe that occasionally influence decisions in Brussels as well."