Any German who believes that his interests are not being represented in faraway Brussels is wrong. In addition to the German government and European lawmakers from Germany, there is a giant network of at least 15,000 lobbyists who represent a hodgepodge of particular interests in European institutions. These include the European Parliament, the European Council, which comprises the 28 members’ political leaders, and the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive branch.
There is truly something for everyone in the world of Brussels lobbyists. As consumers, Europeans are represented by 22 lobbyists working for the European umbrella group of consumer organizations. The same applies, at the EU level, to the Taxpayers Association of Europe.
Every German state maintains an office representing its citizens in Brussels. Union members are represented by the Brussels office of the German Federation of Trade Unions, and if they happen to belong to individual German unions such as IG Metal or Verdi, they are even represented by two union organizations.
The German Firefighters Association represents the 1.3 million members of volunteer fire departments in Germany. The list goes on.
Germany has the second-largest number of lobbying organizations in Brussels, 856 of the total of 7,086 registered organizations.
Of course, there is no question that business interests dominate lobbying activity on the Brussels stage. About 60 percent of lobbyists are associated with companies or their trade groups, which are in the best positions to afford such representation.
And it is primarily the behind-the-scenes influence of these business lobbyists that attracts attention – and led to the introduction of a so-called transparency register in 2008.