European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has only met four lobbyists so far in 2018,according to the commission’s official register.
While this is already one more than the entire last year, it seems to be part of a downward trend.
Juncker met 28 “organisations and self-employed individuals” in 2015, 16 in 2016, and three in 2017.
Juncker’s spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud confirmed to EUobserver that the president’s register entries are “up to date”, so there are no meetings held which have not yet been reported.
She explained the low number by referring to Juncker’s usual counterparts at meetings: politicians.
“The vast majority of his meetings are with heads of state or government or other members of government, so not needing to be declared in the register,” said Bertaud.
This was also true in years where Juncker met more lobbyists, though. The fact that Juncker hardly meets any non-governmental interest groups or companies, makes it even more symbolic who he decides to spend his time with.
Juncker’s most recent meeting with a lobbyist was on 7 May with Josef Ackermann, chairman of the Bank of Cyprus and former CEO of Deutsche Bank.
Other meetings this year were with Luxembourg-based multinational steel giant ArcelorMittal’s CEO Lakshmi Mittal; Guillaume Klossa, founder of the EuropaNova think tank; and the Association of German banks.
Last year, Juncker met with representatives from Euronews, the Open Society European Policy Institute – a part of the Open Society Foundation – and the Deposits and Consignments Fund, a French public sector financial institution.
When Juncker took office in November 2014, his college of commissioners was the first to proactively publish regularly which lobbyists they were meeting.
The website Integrity Watch has visualised that data, and showed that of the 28 members of the commission, Guenther Oettinger is the most active.
Oettinger, who began as digital economy commissioner and was then moved to the post of commissioner in charge of the budget, has had a total of 662 meetings under Juncker.
He is followed by climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete (577), digital single market vice-president Andrus Ansip (453) and jobs & growth vice-president Jyrki Katainen (291).
The vast majority of meetings commissioners had was with corporate lobbyists – 70 percent of meetings. The second largest category of meetings (21 percent) was non-governmental organisations, followed by think tanks (4 percent).
This article was updated on Tuesday 15 May, 12:09PM, to correct that commissioner Oettinger does not hold the title vice-president