Tuesday

22nd Aug 2017

Regions join army of EU lobbyists

  • Much lobbying goes on at events organised by the Brussels-based Committee of the Regions (Photo: Comité des Régions / Committee of the Regions)

In Brussels in Park Leopold, nestled between the European Parliament and the EU's Committee of the Regions, there stands a baroque chateau built in 1903, tucked away behind a steel fence and surveillance cameras.

Four different flags bring colour to the courtyard with its finely trimmed hedges: one represents the EU, one is for Belgium, one for Germany and the last has two horizontal stripes - white above, blue below.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union," it says on a plaque at the entrance gate.

Bavaria, Germany's biggest and richest state, was one of the first as a subnational government to have a permanent representation in the EU capital.

It has had a presence here since 1987, its deputy director, Gunnar Wiegand, told EUobserver, in order to "report about recent EU developments, promote Bavarian positions towards EU institutions, [and] present and represent Bavaria in Brussels."

The first, in 1985, was the German city of Hamburg, according to Ulla Sarin of what is now the joint office of the states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.

In December 2011, according to the latest information from the Committee of the Regions, an EU advisory body, there were in Brussels some 250 offices run by regions cities, and municipalities from across the Union and beyond.

They are not all as prominent as that of the Bavarians, however, which employs 32 people. A survey by EUobserver shows that there are big differences between them.

The Icelandic Association of Local Authorities, for example, employs only one person in Brussels, as does almost one in five of those who responded. Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia have none.

The average number of employees is a little less than six, meaning that in theory, there could be up to 1,500 regional lobbyists working in the EU capital.

There are also big differences in the size of the budgets. Some offices, like the Union of Cyprus Municipalities, have little more than €100,000 per year at their disposal. Others, like the one for South Denmark, have 10 times as much.

The average budget is some €350,000, meaning - in the same non-scientific manner - that subnational governments could be spending more than €87 million per year on EU representation.

But for many, that might be worth it, as they spend much of their time and money trying to get in on generous EU subsidies. A big chunk of the EU budget every year goes to projects aimed at reducing the difference between rich and poor regions.

"Our office is acting as eyes and ears of our region as we actively search for information available only in Brussels, relevant to creating and running projects co-financed by the EU," wrote Andrzej Siewierski of the central Polish region of Lodzkie.

Half of those who responded explicitly mentioned EU funding as an important goal of their Brussels work. The other half did so less explicitly.

EUobserver sent out the survey on 17 September 2012. Of the 249 offices contacted, 34 partially or completely responded.

Regions feel the pinch

Looking to save a buck in every corner of the budget, EU countries are now pointing their arrows at subnational governments, a new study has found. Subsidies are down, as is the number of municipalities.

EU to link regional funds to strict deficit rules

The EU commission on Thursday proposed that from 2014 on, the bloc's structural funds be linked to strict budget deficit rules under the new economic governance legislation. Regional representatives and MEPs have criticsed the move.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference