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Is there 30,000 Lobbyists in Brussels? A Sociological Approach of the European Directories of Interest Groups since 1960

Guillaume Courty

In 1992, the European Commission published its famous communication about an open dialogue with the special interest groups. The day after, the media have started to publish a lot of estimations('3000 interest groups') trying to show how Brussels was the biggest place of lobbying in the world.How can we count the actors or the organizations representing interests in the EU? How can we think about them? We need two tools to answer these questions. We must refuse the institutional categories (the directories of the European institutions are producing confusion) and find the right statistics. And we must use a critical sociology (our sociological questions can't be those of the actors) with operational concepts.With the datas collected in the 7 editions of the directory edited by the Commission since 1960, it is possible to demonstrate that they are more continuities than « stop » or changes in the interest representation space. It doesn't mean that it is a stable space. The main transformations are symbolic, economic and politics. This long term approach allows to show a permanent issue : the « Consultation » and its different meanings. It is also an opportunity to observe what was going on before the Delor's era and the transformation of the European treaties.

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