Extent of EU corruption by big tech lobbying revealed

According to a new study technology is the biggest lobby sector to the European Union and that spend is dominated by US tech giants.

The study was compiled by Corporate Europe Observatory and Lobbycontrol and relied on data from the EU Transparency Register, which publishes the details of those organisations who carry out activities to influence the EU policy and decision-making process. Otherwise known as lobbying, this is essentially legalized corruption through which those organisations with the deepest pockets attempt to influence policy making to their benefit.

According to the study, titled ‘The lobby network: Big Tech’s web of influence in the EU’, the tech sector spends nearly €100 million annually on trying to get the EU to do what it wants. Among the 612 tech companies that lobby the EU, by far the biggest spenders are Google, Facebook and Microsoft, who each spend over €5 million a year. Apple and Amazon are right up there, with the only interruption to the US dominance coming from Huawei, which may explain why the bloc has been so slow to develop a common policy towards it.

“The economic and political power of the digital giants is hefty, and they are not going to remain passive in the face of possible new rules that affect the way they conduct their business, said Tommaso Valletti, former Chief Economist of the Competition Directorate of the EU Commission and Professor of Economics at the Imperial College. “That‘s why the EU Institutions urgently need to change the way they handle this lobbying and limit the power of big tech.“

The EU Transparency Register presumably only logs direct lobbying spend, but there’s also a massive ecosystem of lobbying agencies, think tanks and general political parasites deep-pocketed organisations can throw money at to further amplify their messaging. Here are 14 of them the report says have ‘close ties’ to the ticked companies.

Despite reports such as this one, it’s still unclear where all this dosh ends up. Sure, a lot of it will be spent on overheads such as salaries but are we really expected to believe none of it manifests itself as bribes-in-kind such as lavish dinners and contributions to political fundraising? There’s no reason to believe the EU is any more corruptible than other Western governments, but it sure is handy to be able to lobby an entire continent in one go.

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