Beate Kohler-Koch, David A. Friedrich
National business interests in the EU: Biased representation?

11th ECPR General Conference, Oslo, September 06th to September 09th, 2017

Since the beginning of European integration, business interests have been striving for active presence in Brussels. They group in European associations and also lobby directly either individually or through their national associations. The presence of companies and of national business interest groups (BIAs) at EU level is impressive. At first glance it seems to correspond to the economic power of their home country. On closer inspection, resources indeed matter but do existing variations really mirror the national economic capabilities? The paper explores bias in the transnational representation of national business interests in the EU. We focus on collective interest organisation and take three steps to capture, explain and evaluate variations in national business representation. First, we construct a ‘lobbying capability score’ of all national BIAs listed in the EU Transparency Register comprising four factors: resources spent on EU lobbying, an office in Brussels, European Parliament accreditation, and membership in EU BIAs. We then analyse to what degree country- and sector-specific factors as well as the presence of national consultancies and firms in Brussels account for the variation in BIA presence. Finally, we give an assessment of the biased or un-biased nature of business representation in the EU and discuss what implications these differences may have for European interest mediation.