The Politics of Persuasion

The Politics of Persuasion

Should Lobbying be Regulated in the EU?

Urs S. Brandt and Gert T. Svendsen

The EU is at a crossroads. Should it choose the path towards protectionism or the path towards free trade? This book convincingly argues that lobbying regulation will be a decisive first step towards fulfilling the European dream of free trade, in accordance with the original purpose of the Treaty of Rome. Without the regulation of lobbyists to try and prevent undue political persuasion, there is a greater risk of abuse in the form of corruption, subsidies and trade barriers, which will come at the expense of consumers, tax payers and competitiveness.

Chapter 2: Power centralization

Urs S. Brandt and Gert T. Svendsen

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public choice, regulation and governance


Chapter 2 asked how power centralization in the European Union (EU) may affect lobbying and economic growth. It was argued that the original ‘European Dream’ of becoming the world’s leading economy faces one fundamental barrier to the fulfilment of this dream, namely the fact that power is centralized in the hands of the European Commission (the bureaucracy) rather than the European Parliament (with the directly elected members). The basic idea was that when only a few political decision-makers hold most of the power, an interest group has to lobby in only one place, as opposed to a situation in which power is distributed between many individuals in several institutions such as the Parliament and the government, forcing interest groups to lobby in many different places. Thus, a political system that centralizes power lowers the cost of lobbying and therefore leads to a more economically harmful redistribution, as reflected in the annual EU budget. Here, for example, the two main redistribution policies (structural funds and the Common Agricultural Policy, CAP), consume on their own three-quarters of the total annual EU budget. Thus, if the EU is to achieve its strategic goal, a strong cure is needed to reduce economically harmful redistribution and encourage more free trade. One simple cure could, for example, be to strengthen the decision-making power of the Parliament at the expense of the Commission. In this way, power would be spread out between the democratically elected members of the Parliament rather than being concentrated among a few bureaucrats.

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