Big tech companies have faced tough regulations in the EU since 2020, which include large fines or the breaking up of companies that fail to comply with rules.
However, a new study by Corporate Europe Observatory and Lobbycontrol has found that 612 digital companies spend over €97 million a year lobbying on EU digital economy policies.
The study looked at data submitted to the EU Transparency Register from some of Europe’s largest businesses. It found that tech firms dominate lobbying efforts on EU institutions.
Overall, the technology sector now spends more than any other industry, including the finance, fossil fuel, and chemicals industries.
Ten tech firms – Intel, Huawei, Vodafone, Qualcomm, IBM, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google accounted for over a third of the sector’s total lobbying spend in Europe.
It found that Google is top of the list, with a spend of €5.75 million on attempting to influence EU decision-makers into making changes to regulations.
This was followed by Facebook at €5.5 million, Microsoft at €5.25 million, Apple at €3.5 million, Huawei at €3 million, and Amazon with €2.75 million.
Of the 612 tech and digital sector companies, groups and associations highlighted in the study, over 20% were US-based, with less than than 1% being Chinese companies.
Are the current lobbying rules strict enough?
The economic and political power of digital giants has skyrocketed in recent years. And, it’s clear that these companies will fight new rules that affect the way they do business.
For example, despite EU fines for breaking competition laws and data practices, Google remains a hugely powerful influencer in society. The study warns that the EU needs to strengthen its current lobbying rules and provide greater transparency.
At the moment, tech companies focus their lobbying efforts on the EU’s proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services ACT (DSA), the study found.
These pieces of legislation were designed to apply stricter competition rules, partially for advertising, and to make platforms take responsibility for the content on their platforms.
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