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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Brussels makes decisions under pressure from lobby groups

By Loretta Tóth

Silicon Valley tech giants have gained considerable influence in Brussels in recent years thanks to their increasingly intense lobbying activities.

According to a recent report, Facebook has spent €5.5 million, Google €7.5 million, Microsoft €5.2 million and Apple €3.5 million to lobby the European Union to ensure that the European Commission takes the interests of tech giants into account when drafting EU legislation to regulate digital services and markets. OFFICIALS from the EU executive have held dozens of meetings with representatives of Silicon Valley companies on the subject, while the Commission seems to be less interested in the views of NGOs.

While the tech giants’ portrayal publicly suggests that they support new regulations, this only applies to soft rules that they themselves have created – such as the conclusion of a recent report by Belgium’s Corporate Europe Observatory and Germany’s LobbyControl, an organisation specialising in monitoring the activities of lobby groups that has examined the influence of Silicon Valley tech giants on decision-making in the EU. The study found that

US companies have gained considerable influence in Brussels.

This is due to the fact that 612 companies and their partners are currently lobbying to influence the EU draft law on the regulation of digital services and digital markets, and are providing at least €97 million per year to do so.

In this context, the Belgian-German report emphasises:

This also means that the technology sector has become the EU’s largest lobbying sector, with US conglomerate lobbying spending exceeding that of the pharmaceutical, fossil fuel and financial sectors by orders of magnitude.

The tech giants are also increasingly funding Brussels think tanks and business institutions, through which they are trying to indirectly expand their influence. In fact, they outsource lobbying to academic centres and consultancies that do not officially represent the interests of big business in the background, but before the Commission the interests of big business.

Euractiv, a Brussels-based news portal, turned to the European Commission in this regard, but the EU institution replied evasively that it was ready to meet anyone who wanted to talk to it.

The European Commission will not control ” now or in the future “who asks for meetings and how often.”

Euractiv also pointed out that, according to the study, European Commission officials held 132 meetings with private companies and 70 meetings with trade organisations during the drafting of digital services legislation.

while civil society organisations participated in only 52 formal meetings with EU officials.

However, as Magyar Nemzet previously reported, the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), presented by the European Commission in December last year, are still far from coming into force. They must be approved by the European Parliament and the European Council, and it is also clear that Member States have been divided on a number of issues from the outset. For example,on the question of whether the DSA should regulate harmful but still legal content (such as disinformation) or who can fall under the concept of the “gatekeeper” – inconsistencies that mean that the time needed to clarify these issues will only take more time to adopt the legislation, which, according to estimates by the EU Commissioner for Digital Affairs and Competition, Margrethe Vestager, who presented the package, will take at least two years at best.

Source: Magyar Nemzet


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