Europeans are falling for Google’s lobbying charms

European Court of Human RightsThe anti-corruption group Transparency International is worried that Google might be lobbying the European Commission a little too much.

In a report analysing meetings held by European Commissioners and their staff with companies and organisations over the last six months, Transparency International found that officials held 29 meetings with the US search engine, which is the subject of two high-profile antitrust cases.

Google said the high lobbying figure was because it wanted to do a better job of listening to Europe’s concerns and explaining how our business works in Europe.

The only difference between the US and EU is that the new EU executive, which took office in November, has pushed for more transparency in its dealings with companies and organisations and has begun publishing details of meetings held by senior officials.

The EU also tracks how much companies and organizations spend on lobbying activities, which is published in its Transparency Register.

Google spent between $3.92-4.26 million in lobbying activities last year, according to the register.

Transparency International’s report found that more than 75 percent of meetings were held with corporate lobbyists, compared with 18 percent with non-governmental organizations and four percent with think tanks.  Daniel Freund, a policy officer at Transparency International, referring to the EU’s Transparency Register said that the evidence of the last six months suggests there is a strong link between the amount of money you spend and the number of meetings you get.

Officials working in the fields of climate, energy, finance and digital policy got the most attention from lobbyists, Transparency International’s report said.