Energy lobbyism in Brussels: How E.ON and DONG Energy use the access channels to the EU institutions for their interest representation

Ulrike Schenka

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis examines how the German utility company E.ON and the Danish utility company DONG Energy use the access channels to the European institutions for their interest representation and what determines their choice of these channels, since it is argued that the utility companies‘ lobbying endeavours have not been studied comprehensively beyond their role during the EU electricity liberalization in the mid-1990s. Guided by a conceptual framework constructed from Pieter Bouwen‘s ‗logic of access approach‘ (2002) and Rainer Eising‘s ‗resource dependencies approach‘ (2007, 2009) relevant stakeholders in the EU policy process were identified and consecutively interviewed in addition to the companies‘ representatives. Based on these interviews the present thesis demonstrates that both companies use a range of access channels as supportive means for their interest representation. Through the application of a multi-level lobbying approach, they combine their individual lobbying efforts with the lobbying endeavours of their national energy association or other associations, which are representing a particular area of their business activities as well as approaching the European sector associations individually or through their national energy association. The companies‘ choice of the respective access channel is thereby based on a venue-shopping approach, i.e. the companies try to approach all crucial actors at the relevant time through the most appropriate access channel by following the EU policy process. The interviews with relevant stakeholders further implied that the EU institutions grant access based on the degree of expert knowledge, professionalism, trust and reliability – a ‗formula‘, which both companies seem to be able to live up to. While E.ON has proven to be an essential resource for information for the EU institutions and has established a strong degree of trust among them through their many years of experience, DONG Energy quickly gained access to the EU institutions after gearing up their EU lobbying activities in late 2010 by branding their progressive business model of reversing their current energy mix over the next 30 years to the advantage of renewable sources of energy and by benefitting from the good reputation that Danish companies enjoy in Brussels. The present study therefore shows that the (market) size of a company does not exclusively determine the degree of access to the EU institutions but that expert knowledge (e.g. technical information) and best practices (e.g. ambitious CO2 emissions reduction strategies) are more important assets to become an interesting interlocutor for them.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages96