Tech companies spend over €113mn per year on lobbying the EU’s decision-making policies, a new study by the Corporate Europe Organisation (CEO) has found.
Alarmingly, the tech industry’s lobbying power has also increased by 16.5% over the past couple of years — from €97mn in 2021 to €113mn in 2023.
Overall, a total of 651 companies are attempting to influence the bloc’s digital economy. Among them, big tech is (rather expectedly) dominating the efforts, digging deeper into its pockets more than ever before.
Specifically, Meta is at the top of the list, having increased its budget from €5.75mn in 2021 to €8mn in 2023. In second place, Apple has doubled its lobbying investment from €3.5mn to €7mn. Google comes fourth with €5.5mn, and Microsoft sixth with €5mn. (Bayer and Shell occupy the third and fifth place, respectively.)
Meta also ranks first in the number of lobbyists with 17.05 full-time equivalents (FTEs). Google, Amazon, and Apple employ on average three more FTEs than they did in 2021.
Big tech’s dominance persists despite a slight rise in the number of companies spending for lobbying. The top 10 corporations on the list (which also include Amazon and Qualcomm) account for over a third of the sector’s total spending, reaching €40mn.
In contrast, 75% of companies spend less than €200,000, and 25% even less than €5,000 euros.
Notably, US-based companies represent about 20% of the lobbying efforts. European countries, including the UK, France, and Germany, follow with an average of 10% each. Meanwhile, Chinese giants, such as TikTok and Alibaba, account for less than 1%.
According to the CEO, big tech’s increasing push to influence EU policy in its favour is strongly related to the bloc’s recent and impending sweeping regulations — and it’s not hard to see why.
The newly enforced Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) have directly taken aim at tech giants, designed to curb a number of the essential aspects of their business model, including content moderation, targeted advertising, and monopolising, anti-competition practices.
At the same time, the upcoming AI Act is expected to present yet another woe for tech companies that will have to build and deploy their artificial intelligence systems based on strict rules — especially when it comes to the (highly profitable) general purpose AI.
While it seems that big tech has lost the DSA and DMA battles, it still has some time to spend a million or two before the AI Act comes into force.