The new era of lobbying - Chapter 5 : XXIst century lobbying, the new power

Alain-Patrick Umucyo By Alain-Patrick Umucyo, 22nd Nov 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3vbzk5hj/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Politics

Jack Abramoff's story shows that the most efficient lobbying strategy during his career consisted in “owning” the public sphere without actually being part of it.(1) However, the borders between lobbying and politics became blurred. New perspectives arose. New methods were developped.

'The precedent set by Bradford L. Smith' suggests that the goal is not any more to manipulate the public sphere from the outside but to supplant it.(2) The European Union has become the ideal guinea pig.

1 The European Union, the guinea pig of choice

In September 2014, “The group Corporate Europe Observatory has exposed undeniable lobbyists in the new European Commission. This institution now counts, among others :

  • 'an ex-corporate lobbyist' for the financial industry, Jonathan Hill, in charge of 'Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union';
  • 'a former vice-president of the industry lobby group 'Le Cercle de l'Industrie', Pierre Moscovici, in charge of 'Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs'”(3)

The group extended its study in October 2014 in a paper entitled The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation(4). The publication exposes the direct influence of lobbies on the European Commission's activity regarding the reduction of 'red tape'. This direct influence appears obvious in three of the seven official institutions of the European Union(5) :

  • first in the European Commission. In 2007, a High-Level Group on Administrative Burdens involving lobbyists was created before launching, in December 2012, the “Commission’s main instrument to cut ‘red tape’ – its regulatory scissors– (...) known as REFIT. (...) REFIT aims to 'make EU law lighter, simpler and less costly,' the latest initiative in the Commission’s 'Smart Regulation' agenda.”(6)
  • In the European Council, which has supported the Commission's instrument(7) notably in October 2013 when, after a meeting of the Council, “British Prime Minister David Cameron presented a report by his Business Taskforce (six 'business leaders', including CEOs of supermarket chain Marks & Spencer, alcohol giant Diageo, and pharmaceutical company BTG) entitled ‘Cut EU Red Tape’”(8).
  • In the European Parliament, where, after the may 2014 elections, a group of Members of the European Parliament founded 'Red Tape Watch'. “The group’s chairman (...) stated that 'Too detailed regulation is a barrier to economic growth' and pledged that his group will be an 'observatory against bureaucratic excess.'(...) Should there be any doubt about whose interests the group serves, its Vice-Chairmen feature an array of MEPs with close ties to big business lobbies (...)”.(9)

2 Legitimacy before power

For Big Business leaders, the presence of lobbyists directly at the helm of the public sphere is a transitional stage between the Abramoff time and the Brad Smith era. This has been pricisely suggested by Linda Rottenberg, co-founder and CEO of Endeavor. This company is a mix of an international organisation and a private firm. It aims at sustaining so called high-impact entrepreneurs all over the world, especially in emerging markets.

Ms Rottenberg, who is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, explained that : “A lot of the strategies now for diplomacy are failing because they are being held at the (...) political level. (...) we have Brazilians that are now partnering with people in Dubaï and Oman. I think that, to me, the next wave of diplomacy is gonna be held, I think, Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur, E to E. (...) If the young people (...) can infuse this new more global culture, more open and less this top down solutions of one president to another, then, I think, that we're going to make change".(10)

Linda Rottenberg was addressing a youthful audience as a part of the DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series.(11) This explains her final call to “young people”. Nevertheless, this call sounds like a wish to gather support to implement her ideal of a new diplomatic strategy, “Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur, E to E.” Young people of today will be tomorrow the necessary source of legitimacy to supplant governments.

Still, if the Ms Rottenberg's ideal becomes reality then all the enterprises will not be winning. Considering that in a world overwhelmed by financial interests, there are still banks facing bankruptcy ; in the world of Linda Rottenberg, some ventures will still be struggling. This has already been understood by some.

Another source of legitimacy to favour the eviction of governments by lobbies is the law. Some European Union's territories are starting to set up registers for lobbyists(12). This is depicted as a major advancement towards greater transparency and better functioning of the public sphere. However, telling lobbyists to unveil their activity is different from regulating their activity.

To compromise a comprehensive regulation of lobbying activities with the satisfaction of greater transparency is in favour of the new lobbying strategy impliedly called for by Linda Rottenberg and starting to be put in practice in the European Union. Indeed, as soon as the registers will be enforced, lobbyists will easily put forth the regularity of their registration to keep the modalities of their activity in the shadow. Lobbyists will act with the consent of the law(13) and seamlessly they will be able to (re)shape it.

The present chapter is part of The new era of lobbying volume.

SOURCES

Picture :
- Tweet of 29 October 2014 <https://twitter.com/syndrael1/status/527707218695962624> accessed 22 November 2014
- Tweet of 19 November 2014 <https://twitter.com/mathieuquetel/status/535012140634357760> accessed 22 November 2014

(1)UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of lobbying - Chapter 3 : The turning point Jack Abramoff . 18 November 2014. Wikinut. <http://nut.bz/323wgfcu/> accessed 21 November 2014

(2) UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of lobbying - Chapter 4 : The precedent set by Bradford L. Smith. 16 November 2014. Wikinut. < http://nut.bz/2i6lv8lb/> accessed 21 November 2014

(3) UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of lobbying - Chapter 2 : The three pathways of lobbying. . 31 October 2014. Wikinut. <http://nut.bz/d4uosee5/> accessed 21 November 2014

(4)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation . October 2014. Coporate Europe. <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 21 November 2014

(5)UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. 03. Negotiations EU - USA, procedure. (diagram) . 22 December 2014. Google Docs. <https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1rwUJtpK3yTJGm4gQmSV77wV_eDHMrRSfBfP7SNQDT-c/edit?usp=sharing> accessed 21 November 2014

(6)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation . October 2014. Coporate Europe. Page 3. <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 21 November 2014

(7)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation . October 2014. Coporate Europe. Page 6. <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 21 November 2014

(8)Ibidem

(9)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation . October 2014. Coporate Europe. Page 12. <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 21 November 2014

(10)Audio podcast : Crazy is a compliment. 7 May 2014. SoundCloud. 32:33 <https://soundcloud.com/ecorner/linda-rottenberg-crazy-is-a?in=alainpatricku/sets/existenzgr-ndung#t=32:33> accessed 13 November 2014

(11)UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. Five inspiring lessons from Linda Rottenberg, Co-founder and CEO of Endeavor . 19 November 2014. Wikinut. <http://nut.bz/3yba075t/> accessed 22 November 2014

(12)
- UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of lobbying - Chapter 1 : The Uber example. . 17 October 2014. Wikinut. <http://nut.bz/3ju4h9zf/> accessed 21 November 2014
- SIRLESCHTOV Antje. Lobbyregister im BundestagLobbyisten wollen raus aus der Korruptionsecke . 17 November 2014. Der Tagesspiegel.<http://www.tagesspiegel.de/themen/agenda/lobbyregister-im-bundestag-lobbyisten-wollen-raus-aus-der-korruptionsecke/10991730.html> accessed 20 November 2014

(13)UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. Why firms need lobbyists now more than ever - III. Lobbyists, operators recognized by the law.. Bitly <https://bitly.com/bundles/alainpatrickumucyo/1> accessed 17 October 2014

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