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Evaluating and Regulating the Impacts of Lobbying in the EU? The Case Study of Green Industries



How should we evaluate and regulate the impacts of lobbying in the European Union (EU)? The current lack of transparency around lobbying activities and the absence of formal regulation mean that a hidden lobbying problem may prevail. The tentative case study of green industries in the EU is illustrative. The wind turbine industry, for example, benefits from ambitious environmental target levels for greenhouse gas reductions that will increase the future market for renewable energy. In contrast, for example, no environmental target levels exist that increase the future market shares of organic farming. Rational choice theory suggests that lobbying and group size advantages can explain the observed difference in achieving environmental target levels. The EU may learn from the US legislation as a starting point for a best-practice solution and future evaluation of impacts of lobbying in the EU. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment
Evaluating and Regulating the Impacts of Lobbying in
the EU? The Case Study of Green Industries
Gert Tinggaard Svendsen*
Political Science, Aarhus University
How should we evaluate and regulate the impacts of lobbying in the European Union (EU)?
The current lack of transparency around lobbying activities and the absence of formal
regulation mean that a hidden lobbying problem may prevail. The tentative case study of
green industries in the EU is illustrative. The wind turbine industry, for example, benets
from ambitious environmental target levels for greenhouse gas reductions that will increase
the future market for renewable energy. In contrast, for example, no environmental target
levels exist that increase the future market shares of organic farming. Rational choice theory
suggests that lobbying and group size advantages can explain the observed difference in
achieving environmental target levels. The EU may learn from the US legislation as a starting
point for a bestpractice solution and future evaluation of impacts of lobbying in the EU.
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment
Received 24 April 2009; revised 11 January 2011; accepted 12 January 2011
Keywords: power; lobbying; EU; regulation; organic farming; wind turbine industry; US
power should be considered in political analysis. Previous discussions on the concept of power, i.e. the two rst
dimensions, had been limited only to those forms of power that could be seen, i.e. the overt use of power in
political decisionmaking processes. Thus, the rst dimension concerns the power of political leaders to ght
observable conicts in the decisionmaking process power is winning the political battle. The second dimension
is the power to control agendas what is discussed and what is excluded.
However, it is not sufcient to study concrete, observable behaviour. Therefore, the third dimension deals with
the hidden use of power. Overt and also covert observable conicts should be included in political analysis. Such
latentconict: ‘… consists in a contradiction between the interests of those exercising power and the real interests
of those they exclude.(Lukes, 1974, pp. 2425). Furthermore : The conict is latent in the sense that it is assumed
that there would be a conict of wants or preferences between those exercising power and those subject to it, were
the latter to become aware of their interests.(ibid., p. 25, footnote 5). Because not all conicts are measurable, we
must infer their existence.
Lobbying is not obviously measurable as it often takes place behind the scenes and hidden from public scrutiny.
Hidden lobbying may, for example, benet some producer groups at the expense of consumer groups (Daugbjerg
*Correspondence to: Gert Tinggaard Svendsen, Political Science, Aarhus University, Bygning 1331, Bartholins Allé 7, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.
Email: gts[a] .dk
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment
Environmental Policy and Governance
Env. Pol. Gov. 21, 131142 (2011)
Published online 13 March 2011 in Wiley Online Library
( DOI: 10.1002/eet.567
Archived at
and Svendsen, 2001). Lobbying can be dened as an attempt to inuence political decision via a lobbyist who acts
on behalf of another person or special interest group (Fouloy, 2005).
Lobbying can impact on the rst, second and third dimensions of power by shaping decisions that are taken, by
ensuring that some decisions are never taken, and by shaping the culture and the consciousness of actors to ensure
that some issues are not recognized as being those for which decisions should be taken. Lobbying then raises the
prospects of decisions that are supposedly in the public interest being distorted by the power of private actors. Clear
issues of democracy and accountability emerge, which raise questions about how to assess the impact of lobbying
and potentially also how to regulate the processes therein. According to Gouldson and Murphy (1998, p. 8),
government and industry may, for example within environmental policy: ‘… attempt to alter the climate of opinion
that surrounds the policy process to ensure that particular issues do not come to be perceived as problems that need
to be addressed by policymakers.Thus, where the need for action is recognized: ‘… they may seek to change the
nature of the decisions that are taken so that they reect or at least fail to challenge their own interests.(ibid., p. 9).
Therefore, it is unlikely that the decisions that are taken will lead to the optimal outcome.
In other words, interest groups may distort macroeconomic decisions. Kelman (1987) has argued that this is not
so. He has criticized such a rational choice approach for being a caricature of reality because it so ingeniously
ignores the community spirit. He suggests that this team spirit, by means of social norms, plays an important role
in individual behaviour and economic growth. This is why economic methodology is not directly applicable to the
political arena because individuals do not necessarily always act as they would do in the market. As Kelman notes,
we are not just dealing with hogs around the trough. Without a social norm for good behaviour, society will sink
into widespread poverty. The Robinson Crusoe hypothesisthat individuals are best perceived as isolated units is
unrealistic (Kelman, 1987, pp. 9394). We may argue, however, that Kelmans criticisms are valid at the micro level
where norms, trust and the social control of freeriding problems play an important role. At the meso level,
however, one may argue that professional lobbyists play a more impersonal and anonymous game, where the
assumption of strict economic rationality may be more valid than at the micro level.
A given interest group will, in practice, take on a professional representative, a lobbyist, to secure the overall goal
of the group, for example to obtain environmental target levels and higher market shares. Interest groups want to
maximize prots just like rms in the market, for example by achieving environmental target levels and higher
future market shares. The lobbyist will negotiate on behalf of the group and must seek to maximize the total benet
of the group. If this does not happen, the leaders of the interest group will nd another and more efcient lobbyist
(Svendsen, 2003).
Lobbying is not necessarily a bad thing. On the contrary, clever bureaucrats or politicians may use lobbyists in a
positive sense and obtain balancedinformation from both sides, i.e. both strong and weak groups. The risk of
hidden lobbying is, however, that some groups typically have stronger incentives to act and overcome the problem
of collective action than other groups. Asymmetric organization in the political arena can therefore cause
distortions of political decisions that benet some special interest groups but not others and may, at the same time,
not serve the needs of society as a whole. Symmetric information, by contrast, is feasible if good lobbyingprevails,
i.e. political decisionmakers openly use lobbyists from both strong and weak camps to obtain free information.
For example, one may ask why the European Union (EU) has established ambitious environmental target levels
that benet the future market share for wind energy more than is the case for organic farming. Both sectors are
green industries in the sense that they improve environmental quality by reducing pollution. More wind energy
means pollution reduction in terms of reduced acid rain, global warming, particulates, etc. More organic food
production generally also helps improve the environment. Fewer pesticides, for example, helps preserve
groundwater and biodiversity, and organic livestock production is often associated with better animal welfare
(Sønderskov, 2009).
Have lobbying and the organization of relevant interest groups played a role in this connection. This is an
empirical puzzle. Here, rational choice theory may offer an important insight by focusing on the role of lobbying in
connection with the denition of environmental target levels (Svendsen, 2003). Thus, the idea is to focus on why
some green industries are favoured as a tentative case of lobbying in the EU where certain industrial groupings may
lobby to achieve their ends. Such application of rational choice theory to green industries has not previously been
undertaken, and this gap between theory and practice has only recently been recognized (Mueller, 2003). As
Svendsen and Vesterdal (2003), Coen (2007) and Gullberg (2008) note, rational choice theory has in general not yet
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DOI: 10.1002/eet
been successfully applied. Other authors such as Tietenberg and Lewis (2009) and Daugbjerg and Svendsen (2009)
note that, with respect to environmental regulation and green industries in general, the debate has until now rested
largely on economic theory without regard to the politicaladministrative reality.
My aim here is to analyse the risk of hidden lobbying in the EU and to suggest a possible bestpractice system for
regulating such activities. Establishing clear rules for lobbying may reveal how various interests inuence political
decisionmakers and political outcomes. Such regulation of lobbying exists at the moment in the US but not in the EU.
The next section highlights the hidden lobbying problem in the EU. The two specic cases of green industries,
namely organic farming and the wind turbine industry, are then discussed. The observed empirical pattern is then
explained by the critical use of rational choice theory. The next section considers a bestpractice solution on how to
regulate lobbying from the US.
Hidden Lobbying Activities in the EU
The hidden lobbying problem is the current state of affairs in the EU. In the absence of mandatory registration for
lobbyists in Brussels, it is not yet possible to establish the actual number of lobbyists Thus, there is a strong need to
develop better data on lobbying and interest organization politics in the EU (Coen, 2007; Berkhout and Lowery,
2008). In contrast to US scholars, who can take advantage of much research on US interest organizations using
lobby registration data, EU scholars do not have access to such highquality data sources due to the fact that
lobbyists are not yet registered and regulated. Formal legislation in the EU matching the US Lobbying Disclosure
Act of 1995 does not exist.
The European Commission estimates that around 15,000 fulltime lobbyists work in Brussels and has acknowledged
the need for formal regulation in its green paper on a European transparency initiative from 2006 (Kallas, 2005;
European Commission, 2006a). Thus, indirect rather than direct measurement methods have prevailed in EU research
until now.
The EU political system can be characterized as pluralistic with free competition among lobby groups. In this way,
Brussels resembles Washington more than the EU capital cities, and pluralism primarily favours small producer
groups who have a clear interest in preferring pure pluralism over corporatism, which automatically includes larger
groups of consumers and more weakly organized producer groups (Svendsen, 2003).
Thus, the European Commission may distort the representation of producers from different sectors or countries
in relation to the situation under free competition. As the initiator of legislation, the Commission can thus use its
discretion to choose which producer groups it wants to incorporate in the legislative preparation processes
(Schmidt, 1999; Wallace and Wallace, 2001). This is in stark contrast to, for example, the Scandinavian corporatist
model with its formalized rules for incorporating all affected interests in the decisionmaking processes, i.e. both
producers and consumers (Christiansen and Nørgaard, 2004).
The Commission currently has no rules to regulate lobbying in the EU. However, the SEAP (Society of European
Affairs Professionals), the European interest organization for lobbyists, has rules for good conduct. SEAP was
founded in 1997 and its goal is to encourage professionalism and selfregulation among lobbyists. SEAP nds that
selfregulation is the most effective way to control lobbyists and has therefore prepared a recommended code of
conduct (SEAP, 2007). The code is formulated in broad and vague terms and talks about professionalism etc. but
hardly has any effect in terms of regulating behaviour. The European Parliament also requires practices for good
lobbying. In contrast to the Commission, the European Parliament has an exhaustive list of interest groups with
access to Parliament meetings (European Parliament, 2004). Just as with the SEAP code, it is unclear what good
conductmeans. When have the rules been broken? The worst thing that can happen to lobbyists who behave
dishonestlyis that they lose access to the Parliament.
Lobbying plays an important role in a pluralistic system, and it is crucial for any interest group to hire the best
lobbyists and build a base in Brussels. Furthermore, we know that most interest groups represent producers. In
their study from 1995 of 693 formal EU interest groups, Greenwood and Aspinwall (1998) found that twothirds
were producer groups. Approximately one in every ve represented nonprot interests such as environmental or
aid organizations, whereas only one out of 100 represented consumer organizations. Wesselius (2005) estimates
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that approximately 70% of all lobbyists in Brussels represent producer groups, 10% work for consumers and non
prot interests, and the last 20% represent regions, cities and international institutions. For example, Central
Denmark Region has its own ofce, Central Denmark, in Brussels (Central Denmark, 2007).
Overall, there is a lack of transparency in the EU system. Therefore, the Commission has suggested making
lobby activities transparent via the implementation of three proposals. First, information on the cooperation
between special interest groups and lobbyists will be published on the Internet, including data on who the lobbyists
represent, their general goals and how they are funded. The second proposal is voluntary registration of special
interest groups in the EUs database for interest organizations. A voluntary registration system must be established
that gives lobbyists an incentive to register, namely that consultation regarding EU initiatives is contingent upon
registration. Moreover, lobbyists must sign a declaration that they will adhere to an established practice for good
lobbying. Third, the Commission encourages voluntary selfregulation among lobbyists in relation to the practice
for good lobbying. The Commission recommends that lobbyists full the following minimum standards in their
selfregulation: (1) interest groups are honest about their motives when they contact the Commission; (2) interest
groups should not give the Commission misleading information; and (3) interest groups do not offer inducement
in return for favourable regulation (European Commission, 2006b). The operative word in the Commissions
proposal is voluntary: voluntary registration and voluntary selfregulation for special interest groups, so formal and
mandatory regulation of lobbying in the EU remains lacking.
Case Studies
Organic Farming
Environmental Target Level
Organic farming is part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP was the rst redistributive policy of the
EU and for many years the only one (see Bache and George, 2006, pp. 378402, for more details on the CAP
system). Basically, the CAP provides means to ensure the transfer of funds from direct aids to farmers and market
measures (Pillar 1of the CAP) to rural development measures (Pillar 2).
Environmental protection and sustainability are emphasized as important motivational factors for rural
development and organic farming (Pillar 2). This part of the CAP, however, contains no binding or explicit goals for
the EU at large or for the individual member states regarding the development of organic farming. To a large extent,
it is up to the individual member state to decide whether to support organic farming or other initiatives that benet
the rural districts (European Commission, 2008a).
The EUs subsidy schemes for organic farming fall under both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 in the CAP. First, organic farming
is entitled to direct subsidies under Pillar 1, just as with conventional farming (European Commission, 2008a). Second,
organic farming may receive support via the development of rural districts (Pillar 2). The support is allocated via the
member statesrural development programmes (Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, 2008).
The Commission has recently prepared an action plan for organic foods and organic farming. The plan contains
a number of initiatives to advance organic farming, improve the norms by making it more effective and transparent,
and increase consumer trust (European Commission, 2008a). In general, the action plan aims to promote
informationbased development of the organic foodstuff market and to streamline state subsidies for organic
farming further, and also the EUs standards for organic import and control measures must be improved and
strengthened (European Commission, 2004: 3). However, the action plan does not state any explicit or binding
target levels for the development of organic farming for the EU or the individual member states.
Group Size
The largest interest group for organic farming at EU level is the IFOAM EU Group, an independent group under
the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. IFOAM is an international umbrella organization
that aims to promote organic farming and organic farming methods. IFOAM was established in 1972 in France and
consists of approximately 700 organizations from more than 100 countries (IFOAM, 2008).
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The IFOAM EU Group was formed in 2000 as a replacement for The EU Regional Group, which was originally
formed in 1990. The IFOAM EU Group has approximately 300 members in the EU, including organic organizations,
consumer groups, producer groups, research institutions, certication centres, consultant groups, development
organizations and distributors. The goal is to represent the membersinterests in the EU. The IFOAM EU Group has
an ofce in Brussels, which was established in 2003. The group is represented in several of the Commissions
committees and in the standing committee for organic farming (IFOAM, 2008). IFOAMs website does not mention
lobbying efforts (IFOAM, 2009).
The group size for organic farmers has been ascertained at 186,045 (with help from Økologisk Landsforening
the Danish national organic association) in the 27 EU countries (FiBL, 2008). In other words, the organic farmers
make up a large but dispersed group.
Wind Turbines
Environmental Target Level
In contrast to organic farming, there are clear and explicit targets for environmental target levels regarding
renewable energy. First, by 2010, 12% of the total energy consumption in EU15 must come from renewable energy.
In addition, 22.1% of the electricity consumption must be produced from renewable sources. Second, by 2020,
20% of the total energy consumption in EU27 must come from renewable energy (European Council, 2007).
The rst main target of 12% renewable energy was introduced in a White Paper in 1997 (European Commission,
2007). It was followed by a directive in 2001, which again announced a general target level of 12% (Directive 2001/
77/EC). The directive obliges the individual member states to dene national recommended targets for future
consumption of electricity from renewable energy sources (expressed as a percentage of the electricity consumption
for the next 10 years) and develop action plans to achieve them. The member states are obliged to complete an
analysis every other year of the success rate as far as fullling the recommended national target levels. The analysis
is submitted to the Commission, which assesses the member statesprogress and whether the national targets are
in accordance with the general goal of 12%t of gross energy consumption (Ofcial Journal of the European
Community, 2001).
Regarding the second main target, in 2006 the European Council approved a new action plan for 20072009,
which includes a binding environmental target that, by 2020, 20% of the EUs total energy consumption must
come from renewable energy sources. The Commission converts the binding target in the legislation via national
target levels (Danish Energy Agency, 2007; European Council, 2007).
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has calculated that the second main target will on its own mean
that more than onethird of the EUs electricity will come from renewable sources in 2020 up from 16% in 2006.
By 2020, wind energy is expected to have overtaken hydropower as the EUs largest source of renewable
electricity and the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) believes that renewable energies with a
signicant contribution from the wind sector alongside energy efciency constitute the only possible
solution to the EUs future energy challenges(EWEA, 2010).
Group Size
The largest wind interest group at EU level is the EWEA, which was founded in 1982 and has approximately 450
members from 45 countries. A large proportion of all producers in the wind turbine market are members of the
EWEA. In total, these producers represent 90% of the global wind market. In addition, members include
component manufacturers, research institutions, entrepreneurs, nancing and insurance companies, and
consultants. EWEAs headquarters are located in Brussels in the Renewable Energy House, where the Association
coordinates EU policy, communication, research and analysis (EWEA, 2008). In 2000, the EWEA and the eight
other large industries in renewable energy formed the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), which
represents the general interests of the industry (EWEA, 2008).
In contrast to that of the IFOAM, the EWEAs website emphasizes that they undertake intensivelobbying to
promote their case (EWEA, 2009). How they do this is not stated. The number of wind turbine manufacturers in
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DOI: 10.1002/eet
the EU such as Vestas and Siemens has been ascertained at 15 (BTM Consult, 2008). Wind turbine
manufacturers make up a small and focused group.
Overall, a difference in terms of environmental target levels is observed when comparing wind and organic farming at
EU level. Ambitious target levels for renewable energy will benet the wind industry when its future market grows. In
contrast, no similar environmental target levels exist that will increase the future market share for organic farming at the
EU level. In the latter case, the individual member states can largely decide on their own whether they want to use the
resources allocated under the CAP for rural development to promote the development of the organic sector.
Rational Choice Explanation
Meso Level
Modern rational choice theory primarily deals with the meso level and can be described as a threestage rocket. The
rst stage is that of Downs (1957), who sees politicians and other decisionmakers as economically rational and
protmaximizing. The meso level may thus have considerable impact on politiciansattempts to aggregate
preferences for all citizens and provide collective goods for society as a whole. The result is a secondbestworld
characterized by special interest groups and lobbying.
The second stage is that of Buchanan and Tullock (1962), who add to Downseconomic rationality assumption
by arguing that economically rational producer groups will seek rent via government interventions in the market
economy. Politically distorting interventions in the market economy could include special permits to local
producers or taxes on imports. Although consumers and taxpayers lose out due to higher prices or taxes, producers
can still obtain an economic net gain from a regulation that protects them compared with the situation under
perfect competition. As argued by Tollison (2000), producers may rationally spend up to this total economic gain to
promote legislation that is in their favour. In fact, they may spend enough of their gain to make deregulation
socially unprotable (see also Rowley, 2001). The general argument is that producer groups will invest in lobbying
up to the amount (the rent) they may gain as a result of a political intervention.
The third stage is that of Olson (1965, 1982, 2000), whose main argument is that group size affects the ability to
organize and initiate lobbying. Rational choice theory generally predicts that small groups can solve the collective
action problem and are willing to invest in lobbying up to the amount (the rent) they can gain as a consequence of a
political intervention. Rent seeking is to seek redistribution in ones own favour at the expense of ones fellow
citizens. These redistributive gains could come in several shapes and forms, such as subsidies, environmental
targets, licences or other types of market protection. Hillman (2003, p. 447) notes that rent seekers do not present
themselves with the challenge of what productive activity can I undertake today to earn income?Rather, they ask
what can I convince someone to do for me today?
Group Size Theory
We will focus on the third stage and consider the empirical puzzle in this theoretical framework. Here, the main
argument in Mancur OlsonsLogic of Collective Action is that the size of a group determines its ability to organize
and to carry out lobbying (Olson, 1965). It may be easier for small producer groups with concentrated advantages to
overcome the collective action problem and engage in lobbying than for larger consumer and producer groups with
more dispersed advantages.
This called into question the traditional theory of the group, which held that an individual would voluntarily act
in support of common group interests and values as a logical consequence of the widely accepted premise of
rational selfinterest. Groups were simply viewed as voluntary organizations furthering their common interests.
Olson (1965) maintains that this is not so.
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Even when the aggregate gains to a green industry group from attaining a collective good (such as an
environmental target level) greatly exceed the total costs of that action, it does not follow that the action will take
place: individual rationality does not necessarily lead to collective rationality. The invisible handfails, so to speak,
for larger groups. Why is it so? Let us take a closer look at the number of members in the two green industries as an
example of Olsons group size theory (Table 1).
First number of organic farmers was 186,045. Let us now assume, in a hypothetical example, that the value of the
good, if provided, would be shared equally among all the members, so each would receive a benet valued at $1,000.
This means that the total gain for the green industry of an environmental target level increases the future market
share of this group by 186,045 million. Assume further that the total lobbying cost of convincing politicians to
provide the environmental target is 1 million. Although the group as a whole would stand to reap benets worth
more than 186 times the amount of money invested in providing the good, the net gain to any individual member
who chooses to provide the good on his or her own is clearly negative, namely 999,000. In the absence of
organization, the good will therefore not be provided. This group would thus be classied as large.
Now consider the group of wind turbine producers with its 15 members. If the good is provided and the total
value of the collective good to the group is similar to that of organic farmers, namely 186,045 million, then each
member will experience a net gain valued at 12,403 million. Assume also that the total cost of lobbying when
providing the good is 1 million. As each individual members net gain from providing the good is clearly positive
in this case (11,403 million), the good will now be provided even in the absence of organization. Group members
will be active and have a strong incentive to communicate and try to split the costs of lobbying as well. This group
would thus be classied as small.
As a result, the link between individual rationality and group rationality depends on the individual net benet
from contributing to the collective good of an environmental target level for the group as a whole. For more negative
, the more likely it is that the group will fail. The net benet or advantage, A
, that any individual iwould get from
a collective good for which he or she pays in full would be the benetorvalue,V
, to the individual minus the total
cost of providing the good, C:
C. (1)
If A
is clearly positive, individual iis part of a small group and the collective good will be provided; if A
approximately zero, individual iis part of an intermediate group and the good will not be provided; and if A
clearly negative, individual iis part of a large group and, again, the good will not be provided Olson (1965, p. 23).
Thus, the large and loosely organized group of many producers with dispersed advantages, i.e. organic farmers, is
expected to be a weaker political actor than the small group of few large producers, i.e. wind turbine producers. It is
easier for the small group to solve the collective action problem and to act as one unit. The individual costs of taking the
initiative to carry out lobbying in the large group are typically much greater than the individual advantages. Normally, it
would never pay for the individual member of a large group to protest and carry out lobbying on their own.
In a small privileged group, unlike in a large group, a collective good will therefore often be provided voluntarily
because each member or at least one of them will benet, even though this member has to bear all the costs.
Smaller groups with facetoface contact can also exert social pressure. These privilegedgroups are not only based
on economic incentives but also on social norms, which makes it even easier to organize. They have regular faceto
Organic farmers (large group) Wind turbine producers (small group)
Common goal Environmental target level Environmental target level
Number 186 045 15
Individual gain (V
)1000 12,403 million
Total gain 186,045 million 186,045 million
Total cost (C)1 million 1 million
Individual net gain(A
C)1000 –€1 million=–€999.000 12,403 million –€1 million=11,403 million
Table 1. Group size and green industries.
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face contact at meetings, corporate events, etc. In contrast, the latentgroups are so large that they cannot all know
each other making social pressure impossible.
Mobilization of large groups is therefore extremely difcult and takes more time than mobilization of small
groups. Only when the right circumstances and the right leadership are present will group formation occur. The
same argument can be used for agricultural organizations in Western Europe, which like large groups have
developed slowly over centuries; for example, see Pedersen (1988) and Svendsen (2001) regarding the slow
development of agricultural organizations in Scandinavia.
In summary, Olsons theory on group size thus offers one explanation of the empirical puzzle observed, namely
that the small group of wind turbine manufacturers is better at overcoming the collective action problem and lobby
effectively to reach their goals than the large group of organic farmers.
The variation in group size and concentrated advantages thus suggest a logical explanation of the observed variation
in environmental target levels and the likelihood of larger future market shares. This claim is tentative and, of
course, needs to be tested more rigorously in future research.
One alternative explanation could be that conventional nonorganic farmers see organic farmers as a threat to
their own market and would lobby against them for that reason. According to the website of conventional (non
organic) producers, the General Committee for Agricultural Cooperation in the European Union, organic farming
should rather be promoted (COPACOGECA, 2009a). A number of ofcial statements support this claim:
All aspects of organic production need to be developed further in Europe in order to meet this increasing
interest.(COPACOGECA, 2009b, p. 2)
CopaCogeca believes that the scope of the legislation should be extended to include nonfood farm products,
like textiles and cosmetics, and cateringproducts (for restaurants, canteens, schools, etc.).(ibid, p. 3)
CopaCogeca is of the opinion that information and promotion campaigns are needed to better inform
European consumers about organic production and to boost its development.(ibid., p. 4)
‘… there is an opportunity for organic farming, as the frontrunner in agriculture, to pass on specic know
how in order to allow conventional farming to continue to improve environmental protection. This is why
there is an increasing need for cooperation between both types of farming.(ibid., p. 5)
In CopaCogecas view, organic farming, as an integral part of European agriculture, provides consumers
with a large variety of delicious food which is easily accessible and which can form part of a healthy and
balanced diet.(ibid., p. 7)
This position is further emphasized by the fact that COPACOGECA in its position paper directly recommends
that, There must be more incentives for development and production of organic goodsand that, It is particularly
important to improve the quality of organic seeds as they currently have a lower agricultural quality than
conventional seeds.(COPACOGECA, 2009c, p. 2).
Finally, COPACOGECA directly recommends that the European Commission stimulates further ‘… development
of the organic farming sector by encouraging the settingup of producer organisations. The Action Plan should
contribute to a stronger organization of the organic food chain and a stronger participation of producers in the chain in
order to ensure higher added value and fair incomes.(COPACOGECA, 2009d, point 5).
Overall, conventional farmers see organic farmers as a supplement that they actively promote rather than as a
competitor. COPACOGECA actually promotes organic farming and explicitly encourages the European
Commission to help establish producer organizations for organic farming at the EU level.
For wind turbine producers, a possible alternative explanation could be that conventional energy producers
support the development of renewable energy. The websites of conventional energy producers do not, however,
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indicate a clear positioning on renewable energy (see, for example, the website of The Union of the Electricity
Industry, EURELECTRIC, 2009). The statements are broad and general, such as the example below from the
website of The European Petroleum Industry Association (EUROPIA, 2009):
EUROPIA contributes in a constructive and proactive way to the development of policies to safeguard the
secure and sustainable manufacturing, supply and use of petroleum products, by providing competent input
and expert advice to the EU Institutions, Member State Governments and the wider community.
Best Practice System
Following Lukes (1974), the issue regards the ability of powerful actors to shape policy processes so that they further
or fail to challenge their own private interests. This raises questions about the need for regulation of such lobbying
activities but what should such regulation look like? When considering a bestpractice system for regulating
lobbying, the EU may look to the American experience. In contrast to the EU, lobbying activities in the US are far more
transparent as a result of legislation. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 replaced the Federal Regulation of Lobbying
Act of 1946. American special interest groups are now legally required to register, and they have to report their
activities to the authorities every 6 months, including areas of their lobbying activities, bureaucrats contacted, names
of lobbyists employed and total lobbying expenses; in addition, the reports must be publicly available. For example, a
study on the energy giant Halliburton from Texas shows that it spent $250,000 on lobbying between 1 January and 30
June 2004 in connection with, among other things, asbestos legislation, promotion of powerrelated aspects in the
ongoing World Trade Organization negotiations and continued cooperation with the American armed forces
(Svendsen, 2008; see also Shughart and Razzolini, 2001, on lobbying activities in the US).
The following three points (US Senate, 2007a) could be directly transferable to the EU:
(1) American interest groups have an obligation to register, i.e. it is not voluntary, which has been suggested by the
Commission in the Transparency Initiative.
(2) Interest groups must report their activities to the authorities every 6 months, including information about the
areas in which they are lobbying, which bureaucrats they have been in contact with, names of lobbyists
employed and the total costs for lobbying activities. The reports must be fully accessible to the public.
(3) Sentences for various types of offence are precisely dened in the US. The American superlobbyist, Jack
Abramoff, pleaded guilty to a number of offences precisely because formal rules existed (Milbank, 2006). If
Abramoff had been a lobbyist in Brussels, other things being equal, it would probably have been more difcult
to sentence him in the absence of formal regulation.
Furthermore, the EU should consider establishing a website such as that of the US Senate where all registration,
documentation, etc., is made accessible to the public (US Senate, 2007b). As of January 2011, regarding regulating lobbying
in the EU, a voluntary Register, in the context of the European Transparency Initiative, has existed since June 2008
(European Commission, 2008a). This initiative was motivated by the fact that: ‘… the European Commission wishes to let
citizens know which general or specic interests are inuencing the decisionmaking process of the European Institutions
and the resources mobilized to that end.(European Commission, 2011). What is completely missing on the current
agenda, however, is a careful consideration of mandatory registration based on the US experience.
As originally stated by Lukes (1974), hidden and nonobservable political activities also affect political outcome.
Lobbying is such an activity. Thus, the research aim here was to evaluate the problem of hidden lobbying activities
and suggest a bestpractice solution for future regulation.
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Given the current absence of regulation in the EU, however, it is, for example, impossible even to establish the
number of lobbyists. To illustrate the risk of hidden lobbying in the EU, a tentative case was applied as a rst
preliminary step. The empirical puzzle was to consider whether hidden lobbying could explain why the wind sector
had achieved environmental target levels whereas the organic sector had not at the EU level. Rational choice theory
at the meso level was used to consider the observed empirical pattern. Both these sectors are today represented at
EU level. Two factors, however, favour wind turbine manufacturers over organic farmers. First, the wind turbine
organization EWEA was founded as long ago as 1982, whereas the organic organization IFOAM EU was founded
only in 2000 and did not open its ofce in Brussels until 2003. The relatively early development of the EWEA and
its strong political impact may be due to the modest number of 15 wind turbine manufacturers. In contrast, there
are today approximately 186,045 organic farmers, i.e. a large group with dispersed advantages and limited
incentives for individual farmers to lobby and exert political pressure, even via the interest group, because the costs
typically exceed the individual benet. It is therefore more difcult for organic farmers to overcome the collective
action dilemma and procure collective goods for their group.
According to Olsons group size theory, the small group has concentrated advantages, which gives individual
members more incentive to initiate lobbying and cooperate to share the costs involved. This provides a collective
good, for example in terms of an environmental target level for the special interest group. Rational choice theory at
the meso level views political agents as economically rational, so if a group can obtain economic gains by lobbying,
it will do so. The theory thus suggests that small groups e.g. wind turbine manufacturers will be better
organized than large groups e.g. organic farmers.
The EU can be characterized as a pluralistic system with free competition among lobby groups in which the
absence of regulation leads to free competition among competing interest groups, giving small groups with
concentrated benets from lobbying great opportunities. Thus, the rational choice theory may prove to be a useful
analytical tool for understanding lobbying and the EUs policies in a given area, for example when establishing
sectorspecic environmental targets. Wind turbine manufacturers must therefore be aware that their small
number gives them a competitive advantage over larger groups such as organic farmers. The latter must therefore
be aware that their group size provides relatively less pressure from individual members in terms of lobbying and
political initiative. The carrot is that if the large group can stand united and avoid the majority of members taking
freeride, then it is possible to distribute the costs of lobbying across many members in the EU. The stick is that if
joint and effective lobbying does not take place at the EU level, organic farmers will lose out in the long run
compared with other green sectors, such as wind turbine producers. When the nancing of such organization at the
EU level is in place, it will be possible to invest in effective lobbying and thus obtain large benets for the individual
organic farmer, for example in the form of more ambitious environmental targets at EU level for organic products.
The answer is that the EU should consider implementing a bestpractice regulation of lobbying based on the US
experience. Formal legislation in the EU corresponding to the US Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 does not exist at
the moment. Based on US legislation, the EU could as a starting point introduce the following three rules: (1) all
lobbying groups must register, (2) all lobbying groups must publicly report their activities to the authorities every
6 months and (3) all lobbying groups must be sanctioned if dened rules for good behaviourare violated.
Such new policy initiatives would open up stronger symmetric incorporation of both small and large groups.
Furthermore, as a positive spillover effect, it would be easier for social scientists to measure and test the impact of
lobbying on EU policies. Acquiring publicly available data as in the US would allow direct measurements and
quantitative tests of the signicance of lobbying. Multiple direct measurements of lobbying will map the interests
that are being represented in the EUs political decisionmaking process.
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... Although lobbying effectiveness is very difficult to measure due to its concealed nature in the process of decision-making (Lowery, 2002;Svendsen, 2011) and the great variety of ways the lobbying takes place (Lowery et al., 2008;Van Schendelen, 2012), it has empirically been shown that it does have an effect on the outcome of a lobbied concept (e.g. Baron & Hirsch, 2012;Gawande, Krishna, & Robbins, 2006;Gawande, Maloney, & Montes-Rojas, 2009;Husted, 1991;Kee, Olarreaga, & Silva, 2007;Panke, 2012;Vining et al., 2005). ...
... Baron & Hirsch, 2012;Gawande, Krishna, & Robbins, 2006;Gawande, Maloney, & Montes-Rojas, 2009;Husted, 1991;Kee, Olarreaga, & Silva, 2007;Panke, 2012;Vining et al., 2005). Lobbying plays an important role as it can shape the decisions that are taken, make sure that a status quo prevails and influence the attitudes of decision-makers by moulding the political agenda (Baron & Hirsch, 2012;Gawande et al., 2009;Hojnacki & Kimball, 1998;Svendsen, 2011). The pursuit of economic benefits is usually the reason for lobbying (Crosby & Orsini, 1996;Mack, 2005). ...
The aim of this research is to contribute to the understanding of how commercial diplomats lobby for public procurement contracts. The institutional environment has ramifications for the manner of lobbying and for the practice of commercial diplomacy. This research brings together these streams of literature, and a conceptual model is developed. By means of an in-depth, single-case study, investigating the lobbying activities of EU diplomats in Indonesia, the study aimed to illustrate the model and draw the list of lobbying activities applicable for commercial diplomats. The findings reveal that in a weak institutional development environment, the diplomats focus on informational lobbying and rely heavily on their networks. If the decision-making powers are decentralized, the diplomats target more decision-makers. If diplomats do not have an access to decision-makers then ‘voice’ lobbying is applied. If the decision-makers are not elected, the diplomats do not engage in constituency-building lobbying. The findings illustrate the plausibility of the introduced conceptual model. They also suggest that domestic factors, such as interest in the host country, priority status of the host country and historical bilateral ties can positively influence the lobbying activities of the diplomats as well.
... The literature generally gives an indication of where and when states should intervene but does not give much specific advice on how this should be achieved optimally in real-life policy, such as climate partnerships (Aidt and Albornoz 2011;Sauquet 2014;Brandt and Svendsen 2016a). Furthermore, promoting green technology is an immediate policy concern but both politically and administratively troublesome (Svendsen 2011;Brandt and Svendsen 2006a). ...
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Can a small technology-developing country increase technology diffusion to developing countries in climate action? We argue that when a country takes into account all direct and indirect benefits from pushing forward the transnational diffusion of national green technology, a free transfer may give the country a net benefit. This result is driven by the idea that technology transfer partnerships enable the countries to tailor technology development to best fit the special circumstances of receiving countries. Such decentralized cooperation can pave the way for scalable technology diffusion. The focus is on one country's renewable energy technology development and how this can affect climate action in major developing countries such as China and India. We propose a leader-follower model between the technology-developing country and the developing country that allows complex payoffs and focuses on a situation in which one country makes a cooperative move to solve the inherent collective action problem. This effective shared learning platform has an upscaling potential, and international organizations, such as the European External Action Service, could further facilitate technology diffusion to developing countries. JEL codes D73, O19, Q56
... First, pressure groups -especially non-business ones -are often constrained by limited budgets, which cause them to lobby less than what they would consider desirable (Gullberg, 2008) and prevent them from allocating due resources to side-activities, like alliances. Interest groups also operate in a non-regulated environment, built on the principle of free competition among different interests (Svendsen, 2011), meaning that they are naturally pushed to compete for financial resources and political influence. Furthermore, most organizations host a complex set of interests and this complexity could easily hinder cooperation (Geyer, 2001). ...
... Such climate partnerships can be characteri ¶ sed as a form of subsidy because the Danish state effectively lobbies for Danish business through these governmental partnerships in green energy. Whereas EU legislation prevents direct business support for Danish wind turbine producers, collaborations facilitated by public agencies are able to favour them via bridge building to relevant authorities in partner countries (Svendsen 2011(Svendsen , 2013Markussen and Svendsen 2005). ...
Can public agencies efficient facilitate sustainable energy strategies that can be used to increase the efficiency of global climate policy? We focus on the specific case of climate partnership between Denmark, a global leader within wind power, and China, the world’s largest CO2 emitter. Based on theory and empirical data, we argue that the strategy of climate partnership can help both partners obtain a more sustainable energy policy with a larger positive effect on climate change as well as increase the income of both state and businesses through an increased level of green exports. The climate partnership model between Denmark and China, as facilitated by the Danish Energy Agency, creates such a win-win situation supported by the main stakeholders. This low-cost policy suggests that public agencies worldwide such as the European External Action Service (EEAS) should expand the number of such efficient climate partnerships.
... Lobbies, especially NGOs and trade unions, are aware of the fact that institutions can emphasize, promote or even financially support their work 83 (Mahoney and Beckstrand 2011). Consequently, they have to adjust to a non-regulated environment, constructed upon the principle of free competition among different interests (Svendsen 2011). Therefore, in such a framework, strategic conflicts among lobbies can easily arise. ...
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This paper explores the potential for “environmental” (green) and “social” (red) European NGOs and trade unions to jointly mobilize, pursuing synergies between ecological/environmental and social goals, as well as to drive bottom-up policy change at the European Union level. The main research question is thus the following: do European NGOs and trade unions conflict or cooperate on ‘eco-social’ challenges? To answer such question, the research focuses on the case of the ‘Right to Energy for All Europeans’ coalition. The coalition is an advocacy-oriented alliance of European social and green NGOs, as well as trade unions, aimed at eradicating energy poverty in Europe, mostly by exerting influence EU’ institutions concerning the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” legislative package. From a methodological point of view, we rely on literature review and qualitative research methods, notably document analysis complemented by several semi-structured interviews with the members of the Coalition. We draw two main conclusions. First, bottom-up coordination is undermined by structural constraints (such as limited resources and compartmentalized policymaking), as well as by interest groups’ commitment to specific and potentially divergent interests. Indeed, coalition-building is always a strategic move and it is more likely to take the form of ad-hoc cooperation, than formalized coordination. Nevertheless, European green and social NGOs and trade unions display a cooperative attitude towards each other. This is coherent with our second finding, according to which these organizations have an incentive to cooperate, since they frequently endorse a ‘just transition’ paradigm. Contrasting both powerful economic interests and the approach followed by European institutions, NGOs and trade unions are promoting a vision for Europe where social and environmental goals are harmoniously combined. Green-red alliances can thus be seen as bottom-up actions aimed to effectively mainstream ‘just transition’ into policy demands and political strategies, hence giving their members an incentive to join.
... Environmental economics holds that environmental taxes should be implemented because they are cost-effective, provide incentives for improving environmentally friendly technologies, and allow a flexible response of polluters (Endres, 2011). However, similarly to others (Hahn, 1989;Markussen & Svendsen, 2005;Svendsen, 2011), we find that in practice, these arguments are of some importance, but other factors are more relevant. ...
Environmental pollution has become a huge problem in many parts of Africa. Until a few years ago, the prevalent response of African governments was the introduction of command and control instruments. This trend has changed and some African countries are now turning their attention to the use of economic instruments including taxes. One of the countries that has introduced environmental taxes is Ghana. This paper analyzes the policy processes related to the emergence and implementation of three environmental taxes in Ghana, namely, taxes on plastics, overaged vehicles, and petroleum applying a public choice approach as the framework of analysis. Overall, we find that all actors behaved as proposed by public choice resulting in environmental tax designs that do not follow what economists consider optimal. Nevertheless, the taxes contributed to mitigate environmental problems, partly because a share of the tax revenue was used for this purpose. Thus, environmental taxes have the potential to mitigate environmental problems in Africa provided functioning administrations are in place. This is, however, currently not the case in many African countries.
... This is a strong indication that the Chinese government wishes to promote Chinese industrial interests, at the same time protecting the public health. Also, wind turbine producers tend to be well-organized due to small-group advantages and one clear and common goal, namely to increase the megawatt production based on wind turbines (Svendsen, 2011). ...
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Climate change poses a serious threat to the world, in particular to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The organisation Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) represents the SIDS by giving them a voice in the United Nations. We discuss the different aspects of climate change and the role that a small actor like AOSIS plays in protecting the citizens of its member states rather than free ride on larger actors. Which strategies should AOSIS use to encourage an even more ambitious climate policy in the future? We suggest five relevant strategies: 1) Introduction of sanctions in the Paris Agreement, 2) A CO2 tax, 3) Subsidising new green technology, 4) That AOSIS should look for coalition partners, e.g. China, and 5) Even stronger focus on the linkage between climate change and future migration. Employing such strategies may save the SIDS from sinking into the sea and, at the same time, secure the target level from the Paris Agreement.
... I found only five empirical papers relevant to climate policy lobbying or rent-seeking in all the years of the seven main environmental economics journals, plus seven in relevant policy journals, and no papers in any Web of Science journals with an abstract mentioning both 'adjustment cost' and its climate-related cousin, 'carbon lock-in'. More on either topic would help, although showing the influence of lobbying on policy, as Markussen and Svendsen (2005), Pezzey et al. (2010) and Svendsen (2011) claimed to do, will always be hard, as many lobbying motives and mechanisms remain well hidden for obvious reasons (Winters and Page, 2009). ...
Full-text available
How can the malign and growing influence of lobbying on global climate policies be checked? In this short piece I link some wide-ranging suggestions for academic research by environment and development economists that is needed to further this aim, with the key idea in Acemoglu and Robinson's (2012) Why Nations Fail . Their book argues strongly that sustained, very long-term economic growth through national industrial revolutions requires ‘inclusive institutions’ that distribute political power broadly over a nation's economic, class and geographical sectors. This is because long-term growth needs technical innovations, which cause creative destruction (structural adjustment) of existing technologies, which in turn harms the interests of existing elites. If elites are too powerful, they will block new technologies, so as to keep their powers to extract rents from the rest of society, and the nation will then fail (to grow sustainably).
Full-text available
The climate change issue has constituted an ongoing political struggle since the first formal international climate negotiations were initiated in 1992 in Rio. It is crucial to understand and solve this collective action problem to pave the road for an effective climate treaty in the future. Thus, we raise the following main research question: How should the political, economic and psychological barriers to an effective climate treaty and sustainable energy be modelled? This 'PEP Triangle' may be applied to better understand and thus improve the ongoing climate negotiations and sustainability. For example, the PEP Triangle may be used in green diplomacy and assist the European External Action Service (EEAS) in accomplishing an effective Paris Treaty.
Constitutional political economy is a research program that directs inquiry to the working properties of rules and institutions within which individuals interact and to the processes through which these rules and institutions are chosen or come into being. This book makes the case for an approach to constitutional political economy that is grounded in consistent, hard-nosed public choice analysis. Effective institutional design is simply not feasible unless the designers build their structures to withstand rational choice pressures from the political market place. If mean, sensual man is here to stay, then let us, in our better moments, incorporate that knowledge into the institutions that must govern his behavior. A distinguished list of public choice scholars pursue this approach against a varying backcloth of constitutional issues relevant to the United States, Canada, Western Europe, the transition economies and the third world.
Before addressing Gordon Tullock’s work on rent seeking, one should say a brief word about his general approach to economic analysis and his writing style. In fact, Tullock has shown far more interest in obtaining useful results than he has in how he happened to go about obtaining them. In this way he has been a methodological anarchist, operating under the general maxim that in science anything goes and results count. His well-known papers generally rely upon simple price-theoretic or spatial constructs and perhaps a little algebra and game theory. Where he has found a need for more formidable tools, he has generally acquired them through coauthors. This “anything goes” approach does not seem to have hampered his work. He has shown a talent for getting at the essence of problems and avoiding clutter in his work. Moreover, he has shown almost no penchant for methodological exegesis in his work, with the major exception of his general insistence that rational economic man models are the best description of behavior. On this point he has been steadfast. In fact, Buchanan (1987) uses Tullock’s emphasis on the homo economicus assumption to describe Tullock as a “natural economist.” I think this is an accurate interpretation of Tullock. We have all known people who are naturally good at things, such as playing shortstop or the piano, and in this sense it is analogous to say that Tullock has a natural inclination toward economic reasoning and behavior.
This book is the second edition of Public Finance and Public Policy (2003). The second edition retains the first edition's themes of investigation of responsibilities and limitations of government. The present edition has been rewritten and restructured. Public choice and political economy concepts and political and bureaucratic principal-agent problems are introduced at the beginning for application to later topics. Fairness, envy, hyperbolic discounting, and other concepts of behavioral economics are integrated throughout. The consequences of asymmetric information and the tradeoff between efficiency and ex-post equality are recurring themes. Key themes investigated are markets and governments, institutions and governance, public goods, public finance for public goods, market corrections (externalities and paternalist public policies), voting, social justice, entitlements and equality of opportunity, choice of taxation, and the need for government. The purpose of the book is to provide an accessible introduction to the use of public finance and public policy to improve on market outcomes.
Steven Lukes' Power: A Radical View is a seminal work still widely used some 30 years after publication. The second edition includes the complete original text alongside two major new essays. One assesses the main debates about how to conceptualize and study power, including the influential contributions of Michel Foucault. The other reconsiders Steven Lukes' own views in light of these debates and of criticisms of his original argument. With a new introduction and bibliographical essay, this book will consolidate its reputation as a classic work and a major reference point within social and political theory.