Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Interests, demands and network ties in Brussels: explaining interest groups' lobbying success across EU policy areas

Article Category

Article available in the following languages:

The complexities of interest groups in EU lobbying

Interest groups that lobby across different EU policy areas can have an important impact on policymaking. An EU-funded project has investigated the mechanisms behind their lobbying success.

Society icon Society

Throughout the young history of the EU, different interest groups have often successfully lobbied for or against different causes and issues, significantly influencing politics in the bloc. The EU-funded project EULOBBYING (Interests, demands and network ties in Brussels: Explaining interest groups' lobbying success across EU policy areas) looked at how interest groups' policy demands impacted the policymaking process and led to policy outcomes. It looked at the factors that decide interest groups' success in influencing EU legislative proposals. To understand interest groups' participation in policy formulation and policy shaping, the project investigated several issues at the supranational level of governance. It closely studied how the groups' policy demands affected the policymaking process and policy outcomes, examining policy positions and preferences as well. This was achieved through intensive data collection, theory building and theory testing for different policy positions and proposals. The latter included the EU's Better Regulation package, Inter-Institutional Agreement on Better Lawmaking, adoption of new Stakeholder Consultation Guidelines, and proposal for a mandatory Transparency Register. Overall the project's outcomes show that the EU stakeholder consultation regime alleviated bias in interest representation. They also highlight that coordinated advocacy and lobbying campaigns are organised by interest groups very early on in the EU policymaking process through open consultations. The findings provide valuable insight regarding interest groups' lobbying behaviour and influence strategies. They reveal that stakeholders' demands for reforming the EU Better Regulation policy involve technocratic deregulation and policymaking, as well as participatory policymaking and social Better Regulation. Importantly, the results highlight three distinct interest group clusters: those satisfied with the Joint Transparency Register, those seeking to better regulate lobbyists' access to the European Parliament, and those who criticise the Register. The first cluster mostly comprises business organisations, while the third is for the most part formed by organisations that represent public interests. It is worthy to note that half of the stakeholders expressed positive evaluations of the EU Transparency Register. EULOBBYING unravelled the structure of stakeholders' positions regarding Better Regulation issues. This ultimately facilitates compromise solutions and consensual decision-making. On the other hand, weak stakeholder alignments and unstable advocacy coalitions may help other bodies shape the Better Regulation reforms. Lastly, project work underlined that significant differences among interest groups regarding the current EU lobbying regulatory scheme should be noted.


Interest groups, lobbying, policymaking, EULOBBYING, Transparency Register

Discover other articles in the same domain of application