For this paper, the interest will be on the nature of lobbying influence and possible ways of measuring it. As such, the first step involves coming up with a definition of the term. Together with the different studies done on lobbying, the number of research done on the influence of lobbying remains central to the study of the role that organized interests use a to drive their agenda in a democratic form of politics (Lowrey 2013, p.1). As such, there also exists a paradox with regards to our understanding of influence. As such, this statement implies that despite the fact that we all try looking for it, we on infrequent occasions have evidence of its existence. Looking at it from the perspective of the successful hunt for Higgs Boston, researchers have as well spent significant amounts of time searching for an elusive phenomenon that has a primary role about our interest in organized groups’ influence. In this regard, there has been some research done within the last two decades on this topic with Mark Smith stated in his paper entitled “American Business and Political Power.” The author argues that when business interests come together with the aim of supporting a policy proposal, the likelihood of the Congress group giving in to their wishes become considerably diminished. Also, in the book by Kollman published in 1998 entitled “Outside Lobbying,” investigated the aspect of public opinion concerning the process of selecting lobbying tactics found out that if direct lobbying takes place while not taking into account the option of public opinion opposition, then it does have little effect.
As such, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the aspect of the influence of lobby groups in the European Union. The research question will base its premise on finding out how much impact these lobby interest groups have in the process of policy-making and how this same influence distribution occurs. As such, the import of these questions emphasizes its significance in that the understanding of the outcomes of policy-making and the democratic legitimacy behind the formation of the European Union critically have a substantial relation to the influence that these lobby groups hold and how its distributed among the several groups. The crux of the matter here is the fact that despite some research done on the explanation of policy outcome concerning the formal institution, little exists as on the influence that these interest groups possess.
In this case, if research done only draws conclusions based on the outcomes of policy while taking into account the aspect of the preferences and bargains of the three primary European institutions, we then fail to take into consideration the origin of the same favorites of these institutions (Klüver 2009, p.1). For instance, a paper done by Moravcsik argued that members states who have a seat at the Council play a significant role by acting as a conduction belt for lobby groups interests dominant on the domestic scenario. Other studies also argued that later on after the formation of the European Union, the influence of lobby groups would then spill off from the local to the European level and have a big say in how policy-making takes place at this level of legislation. In the same line, the number of lobby groups with a say within the European Union has steadily increased over the last ten years. Evidence of this is that the register of the European Parliament reported that lobby groups had an active operation at the European level. As such, one cannot just ignore the role that lobby groups play in the process of decision-making and policy-formation in research since that would be a scenario similar to oversimplifying the process within the European Union.
The primary goal of lobby groups is to influence the trajectory of legislative decisions. Also, interest groups involve themselves in the practice of lobbying the legislative decision-makers with the aim of achieving policy results that best alight with their ideal narratives. On the other hand, not all lobbying leads to successful outcomes in that there are those that manage to inject their philosophies into the pipeline of decision-making while others have little to no impact at attempts to change the framework of legislative activity (Klüver, 2011, p.1). There exists the case of both success and failure on the same plane in that lobby groups will have success in shifting the direction of legislation in one initiative but fail to do so in another sector.
With regards to the techniques used by lobby groups to influence legislative results within the European Union, two primary routes suffice as common. One of it involves the activities at the supranational level. As such, the happenings here is that these lobby groups have the capability of directly lobbying the Commission, Council, and the Parliament together with other crucial institutions that bear the responsibility of forming the legislation of the EU. Lobbying at the domestic level also takes place due to the level of importance placed upon the position of the Council of Minister. The second technique involves the measures adopted by influential national decision-makers. As such, the lobby group would typically try and meet up with these leaders before they go on to meet their fellow office holders at the meeting of EU member states.
Accordingly, some researchers tend to argue that the supranational route taken by lobbyist tends grown in stature over the years due to the significant shift of power from the national to the international level. Along the same line of thinking is the fact that the studies provide analytical insight into the relationship between the EU members and lobby groups in a rigorous manner has seen a rise as has its development. One example of such researcher is Crombez (2002 p. 3) where he fives an articulate analysis of the best suggestions that lobby interest groups can forward to the European legislative arm. On another aspect, we have others opting to look at the attempts made by the European Commission to gather valuable information form lobby groups through the establishment of “fora” that aim at restricting the access of interest groups to decision-makers (Broshceid " Coen 2003, p.7).
The path of using the national lobby strategy has however not gained much popularity from researchers. Despite the few mentions of this path, a researcher named Coen carried out a massive survey of the activities of lobby groups connected to large European companies as is the case in his publication. According to Coen (1997 p. 3), he demonstrates that large European multinationals use both routes of lobbying to influence the direction of policy outcomes. In the same line, a study done by Adshead (1996 p. 599) shows that a similar case happened in Ireland. Here, lobby groups, to seek influence in policy, they do not necessarily put all their hopes in only using the European Commission or national level policy but instead combine the two approaches in a mutually beneficial manner.
For the successful passing of policy proposals through the legislative process in the European Commission, there is the need for information. As such, the European Union has had an increase in its competencies and the process of policy-making becoming complex. But with these increased aspects is the fact that the EU also has a severe problem of understaffing with the size almost similar to the size of a city administration block. With this in mind, the EU, therefore, has to rely on the lobby interest groups to gather information. What follows is that with the need to get data on specific elements of their decision-making process, so does the influence of the lobby groups increase the content of proposing a policy. Those responsible for making this decision in themselves also have no complete idea of the consequence of the kind of proposals they forwards and with this in mind, the person with the monopoly of information then has the upper hand and can influence policy as they like.
There is also the aspect of the European Union needing the support of its citizens to see the success of a policy initiative to gain the legitimacy of its operations. The standard expectation is for the EU to employ legitimacy-based arguments strategically to gather support for its proposals (Klüver, 2009 p. 8). As such, the EU carries the expectations of its citizens in that they have to embody the values and political actions considered desirable and decent. But with the signing of the Maastricht deal, the legitimacy of the EU has quickly dwindled thus threatening its democratic stance. The result is that the EU resorts to using interest lobby groups in resolving its procedural legitimacy issues thus strengthening it in the light of having democratic deficiencies.
One of the methods used in the methodology section to measure the influence of these lobby groups is the use of an attributed influence method. It is a method that will employ the use of surveys where the participants in the investigation, in this case, lobby groups, can receive a set of questions in a self-assessment survey or give a peer review of the influence that other groups tend to possess. Also, this survey can take the form of including those who make reports of the reputation of groups that influence EU policy outcomes. If a researcher conducts a few of these surveys, then one can assess the attributed influence within the European Union.
The second method employed in this study would involve the use of a technique known as process-tracing. It is a technique commonly known for its use in measuring the level of influence of lobby groups in the European Union. As such, the approach of this method rests on the fact that it aims at identifying the causal process that exists between an independent set of variables and the dependent variable results (Dür 2008 p.5). In other words, the aim of researchers will comprise trying to understand how the causes impact on the outcomes. It is tied down to the purpose of this study concerning measuring the level of influence of lobby groups; the investigation will take into account the preferences of these groups. Others are the attempts at influencing policy, level of contact to the decision-makers, the response of decision-makers to these attempts, and the degree to which the outcomes of legislation reflect the preferences of the interest groups. Using this method also has some advantage if used correctly. The reality on the ground is that researchers will have full information on the factors responsible for influencing a legislation decision. As such, they can then take into deliberation competing explanations of an outcome before concluding whether a specific result was due to the lobby group.
The third and final method will involve the employment of an assessment of the degree achievement of the lobby groups. The use of this technique results means the study will analyze the outcomes of a political decision then compare the same to the expected outcomes of the interest groups. As such, the fundamental concept behind this ideas is that the gap that exists between the anticipated preferences of a lobby group and the real outcome reflects the level of influence of that actor. For this study, we will try to take into account the complexity of the situation by controlling other forces that might reduce or increase the gap between the final result and that of as ideal for the actors. With that in mind, this method also has its advantages in that analyzing the degree of attaining preferences can detect if there was any influence even if no activity takes place. An example is a case of the lobbying process being a secret affair or the fact that structural power has taken its course. As such, regardless of the channel that such lobbying takes place, the influence should feature in the outcomes with observable results. As such, a comparison with the process-tracing shows that it can find traces of power at work. Thus, these three methodologies will suffice for this study.
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