LOBBYING is big in Brussels (see chart). As well as lots of cash, it takes up vast amounts of time. Between December 2014 and this July, members of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, and their closest advisers held more than 11,000 meetings with lobbyists. Among the most approachable, it seems, were commissioners Andrus Ansip and Günther Oettinger and their teams. They clocked up 2,156 meetings, or 6.5 per working day on average, according to Transparency International, an anti-corruption group.

It helps to keep these numbers in mind to understand the evolution of what is arguably the commission’s most important economic initiative, led by Messrs Ansip and Oettinger. This is to create a digital single market across all of the EU’s member states. On September 14th the commission unveiled its most controversial proposals thus far, one on telecoms regulation, the other on copyright reform. The plans have to be approved by national governments and the European Parliament, and they are already being fought over.

The commission’s intentions are laudable. In the digital realm Europe is still very much a patchwork. Digital...Continue reading