Monday, October 2, 2023

More than 22 million euros per year and 428 meetings with MEPs

Spanish companies are putting pressure on MEPs to ensure that measures adopted in the EU benefit their interests. When analyzing the twenty companies in our country that have spent the most money on lobbying, the payout amounts to over 22 million euros per year. Since the start of their registration, they have held 316 meetings with MEPs and other officials on whom European laws depend, and they have 20 accreditations to gain access to European Union premises and to participate in the European Chamber’s intergroups. They range from the best-known companies in Spain such as Repsol, BBVA, Indra or Banco Santander, to corporate groups such as the energy company Aelec or the oil company AOP, to institutions and associations such as the CEOE or the Royal Spanish Hunting Association.

Congress regrets that only 10% of parliamentarians publish meetings with lobbyists


The analyzed data is updated by stakeholders through the European Union Transparency Register and consulted by The purpose of this portal, according to the European Parliament, is “to show which interests are represented at EU level, on whose behalf, as well as the economic and human resources devoted to these activities.” exact amount of money, but an approximation between two numbers. Although there are more than 12,000 registered companies and associations – 802 of which are of Spanish origin – transparency is not mandatory for all stakeholders: for example, registration is essential to request accreditations from lobbyists to access Parliament.

According to data provided by the companies themselves, Telefónica is the Spanish company that spends the most on lobbying, with an approximate expenditure of between 2 and 2.25 million euros per year. The Spanish teleoperator, whose majority shareholder has become one of the largest companies in Saudi Arabia, has held a total of 135 meetings with members of the European Commission and has six accreditations for its representatives to gain access to the European Parliament.

Many companies exert pressure on more than just an individual basis. They are also organized collectively in trade and business associations, which in turn act as lobbyists in Brussels. Telefónica is a customer of the German consulting firm FGS Global Gmbh, to which it pays 200,000 euros annually for its services. This lobbying company also represents the interests of companies such as the pharmaceutical companies Bayer and BioNTech. In addition, the operator contracts the services of the Spanish communications company Prestomedia SL for 10,000 euros per year.

Business groups such as the Health Care Association (ANEFP), which brings together drug marketers; CTMarmol, a construction group, spends between 2 and 1.5 million euros annually on defending its interests in the EU.

The Spanish Association of Petroleum Products Operators (AOP), created 30 years ago to represent the interests of companies dedicated to oil refining and distribution, spends more than a million euros annually. This association represents the interests of Cepsa, Repsol, Saras Energía, Galp and the BP Group. However, some of these companies try to exert direct influence, as is the case with Cepsa, which spends an additional €200,000 a year to put pressure on Brussels and have someone accredited to the European Parliament.

Clients of the European Union’s largest lobbyist

In the case of Repsol, although it belongs to the AOP, it is among the 20 Spanish companies that spend the most money to influence European politics. He spends more than 800,000 euros a year on lobbying. Since 2014 they have had 32 meetings with different members of the European Chamber.

The Spanish oil and gas company is a client of Fleishman-Hillard, the largest and most influential lobby law firm in Europe: 23,000 employees and spends more than 10 million euros on exerting pressure. This law firm offers its services for Amazon, Google or Meta. Repsol pays him 25,000 euros annually for consulting services on climate policy financing. Repsol will also pay a further 100,000 euros to the Swedish PR consultancy Weber Shandwick. This company manages the affairs of other Spanish companies such as the Once Foundation, which pays it 300,000 euros per year.

Another Spanish company that pays for Fleishman-Hillard’s services is Banco Santander, which pays up to 100,000 euros per year for the financial and digital policy services of this American-origin consulting firm based in Brussels.

Ana Botín’s company is not one of the twenty Spanish companies that spend the most money, 700,000 euros, to exert pressure in Europe. But the data that stands out the most are the 112 meetings with MEPs and Commission members, behind only Telefónica. The last conversation concerned the European Green Deal with Antoine Colombani, Member of the Cabinet of the European Commission.

The other side of the coin: the register of MEPs

Half of MEPs do not report their meetings with lobbyists. This is confirmed by a study by An inhabitant It says that 346 of the 705 members of the European Parliament did not report any meetings with interest groups in 2021. The regulation of the transparency of the European Parliament lobby “has a strongly voluntary character and only requires the accounting of these meetings with private actors and public organizations” or NGOs whose aim is to influence the policies or decision-making of the European institutions. And not for all parliamentarians, but only for the rapporteurs and commission presidents and when writing their reports.”

The lobbyists’ land registry is also in dispute. The code of ethics of the Members of the European Parliament prohibits gifts over 150 euros and requires the publication of all income exceeding 5,000 euros per year, always citing the source. Parliamentary sources consulted by criticize a lack of mechanisms in the event that the gifts are rejected or returned and call for “more control bodies”.

Of course, the European Parliament has just adopted new, stricter rules for transparency and internal control following the Qatargate scandal, a bribery attempt against MEPs. They also tighten the measures against switching doors and the obligation of MEPs to make declarations of assets at the beginning and end of each mandate, as well as a tightening of the acceptance of gifts and the declaration of travel and subsistence expenses paid by third parties. The changes will come into force on November 1, 2023, but declarations of interest made before these changes will remain valid until the end of the year.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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