Pressure groups and the European Union
Pressure groups concentrate their activities where the power is. As the Single European Act and the Maastricht treaty have broadened the competences of the European Union, and reduced the range of questions that have to be resolved by unanimity through the extended use of qualified majority voting, pressure groups have increasingly switched their attention to Brussels. One estimate suggests that the number of people employed by pressure groups in Brussels doubled from 5,000 at the end of the 1980s to 10,000 in 1994 (Financial Times, 9 April 1994). Given that the European Commission (EC) has around 10,000 officials, excluding translators and central administrative services, this gives a ratio of roughly one pressure-group employee to every Commission official. Business groups have been by far the more successful operators at the European level, in spite of subsidies paid by the European Union to non-governmental organisations operating in other areas. In particular, large multinational companies have opened their own offices in Brussels, and have had a substantial influence on the formation of more effective European-level business organisations.
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