US corporations are the biggest spenders in Brussels lobbying

September 30th, 2014
by Vicky Cann

LobbyFacts presents rankings of the biggest spenders in EU lobbying, something that is not possible to see from the website of the official EU Transparency Register. The LobbyFacts list of top 10 biggest spenders among companies illustrates just how useful such rankings can be. The most remarkable is the strong presence of US corporations in the top 10. Philip Morris, ExxonMobil and Microsoft are the three biggest spenders on lobbying in Brussels, all spending more than €4.5 million per year on lobbying the EU institutions. This top three is followed by European companies Shell, Siemens and GDF Suez. Chinese electronics giant Huawei is number 8 with a reported €3 million spent on lobbying per year. Together, the top 10 spent over €39 million in the past year on lobbying the EU.

The biggest spender Philip Morris increased its reported lobby expenditure from €1.25 million for 2012 to over €5 million for 2013, the crucial year of the EU's decision-making on the Tobacco Products Directive.

Top 10 biggest lobby spending companies

  Company Lobbying expenses
1 Philip Morris International Inc. €5,25mn – 5mn
2 ExxonMobil Petroleum & Chemical €5mn – 4,75mn
3 Microsoft Corporation €4,75mn – 4,5mn
4 Shell Companies €4,5mn – 4,25mn
5 Siemens AG €4,355,792
6 GDF SUEZ €4mn – 3,75mn
7 General Electric Company €3,5mn – 3,25mn
8 Huawei Technologies €3,000,000
9 Bayer AG €2,760,000
10 Telekom Austria Group [see Note below] €2,750,000


Note: After the launch of this website on 30 September 2014, Austrian media reported about Telekom Austria Group listed on the top 10 of companies spending most on EU lobbying. The company reacted the same day by changing its declared lobby costs over 2013 from €2,750,000 to €275,000 and has now disappeared from the live top 10 on this website.

Please note that the ranking presented in this blog is a cleaned-up version of the data emerging from the EU’s lobby transparency register, which suffers from problems of unreliable data (due to lack of monitoring by the register secretariat). In the original ranking of biggest spenders we found several smaller companies with negligible lobbying activities which have no place in the top 10 (BPCE, CEMAFROID and Astramatic). It should also not be forgotten that numerous large corporations are not signed up to the EU's (voluntary) lobby register. Examples include Goldman Sachs and Time Warner. These unregistered corporations may or not be among the biggest spenders.

Disclaimer: please note that the figures in this article were correct on 26 September 2014 but are very likely to change. Please see our detailed disclaimer.

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