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Regulation of the European Parliament is highly voluntary. Compared to 90 percent of Swedish, Danish or Finnish MEPs who disclose meetings with interest groups, only one out of ten Greek, Polish and Bulgarian MEPs do so.
Meetings with dozens of assistants and thousands of civil servants fly under the radar of the EU's transparency register. The heads of the pharmaceutical industry, EFPIA is one of the most active lobby groups. In less than a year and a half since the start of the pandemic they have held as many meetings with senior Commission officials as in the last five years.
As the EU sets its sights on harmonising taxation of the rising e-cigarette and heated tobacco products market, lobbyists fight to keep prices down and smokers hooked. The forthcoming negotiations are intertwined with the bitter competition between the two industry giants.
The drastic increase of lobbying expenditure by Big Tech companies is denting Europe’s traditionally strict privacy laws and shifting more power into the hands of corporations. And the COVID-19 is playing in the latter's hand.