7 - Lobbying for a Europe of big business: the European Roundtable of Industrialists  pp. 187-209


By Michael Nollert and Nicola Fielder

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‘We value the fact that the ERT not only engages in lobbying, narrowly defined, but also makes general proposals and elaborates general projects. We have access on a higher level than all the associations, unions, etc.; we are not lost among the many partners in dialogue, we speak directly with Commission presidents, with the heads of government or at a minimum directly with the economic ministers.’

Helmut Maucher, President of the Board of Directors of Nestlé and chairman of the European Roundtable of Industrialists since 1996, interview, 11 July 1995

Introduction

The signing of the Single European Act did not make the internal market a fait accompli, a view shared by European Roundtable members, whose actions became more pronounced. A watchdog group, the Internal Market Support Committee, was formed in December 1986; its members met regularly with unions, heads of state and government, top government officials and key commissions of the European Community and emphasized the urgency of fulfilling the goals set by the Single European Act. Nowadays, the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) is still considered one of the most influential interest organizations in Brussels. The evidence for this consists not only of the self-description by the president of the Nestlé administrative council and interviews with representatives of European umbrella organizations but also in the very origins of the Single European Act (see chapter 3).

In this chapter, we want to sketch the organization and development as well as the financial and management interconnections of the Round-table. First, the history and the activities of the Roundtable up to the passage of the Single European Act are outlined.