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That European banks’ legislative and regulatory environment is vastly determined in Brussels is no news. Every banker who comes in touch with it, knows that perfectly well. It doesn’t come as a surprise neither that as a consequence all big players have been present in the EU’s power center for a number of years via their own in house interest representatives based locally. In the wake of the financial crisis and the resulting EU legislation, a number of medium sized players are now setting up shop as well. The European Transparency (Lobbyists) Register is booming like never before.

On the side of the national banking associations, the evolution has been very similar. Indeed the ABBL opened its EU representative office in 2006, right after the 1999-2005 financial services action plan was concluded and was quite ahead of the curve. At the time only the German, French and Italian associations were present as well as the Belgian FEBELFIN who obviously has its headquarters in their national capital. Since then other EU representative offices of national banking associations have mushroomed with the Dutch, the Danish, the Swedish, the UK, the Polish and Irish following suit. After some time of closure, the Italian Association is back with a new Brussels based team and the Spanish association is to open its office as well this month.

Rather than being a notable exception limited to the financial services area, this is a general trend. With over 11 600 registered entities in the Transparency Register, Brussels has become the world’s second largest center for interest representation after Washington DC. With the EU further integrating economically and legislatively, this trend is likely to continue over the coming years as an increasing number of medium sized players will seek to have their voice directly heard by EU decision makers. The question is: who is next?

By Antoine Kremer, Head of European Affairs, ABBL

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