Who Makes Law? Understanding the Structure of Lobbying in Brussels

Contact: Victor Kristof

Context

The European Union (EU) is infamous for the high level of lobbying activity surrounding political decisions. It is also famous for its (rather) transparent monitoring of interest groups. The EU makes a transparency register public, in which interest groups must register to get access to the European institutions. They can optionally disclose some information, such as the number of lobbyists, their costs, and their sector of activity. This information is, however, sparse and incomplete, if ever accurate.

Project

The goal of this project will be to analyze the structure of interest groups (or lobbies) in Brussels by using data contained in the transparency register. First, you will scrape all metadata in the register. Second, you will scrape the interest groups websites to collect further information (there are almost 12,000 groups, it will be fun!). Third, you will cross-correlate these data with data related to the European Parliament, such as legislative amendments proposed by Parliamentarians and speeches in parliamentary plenary sessions. This should enable us to better understand the interactions between European politicians and lobbyists.

Requirements

  • Strong coding skills in Python, in particular Web scraping
  • Experience in text and natural language processing
  • Interest in politics (and their mechanics) a plus

If interested, please send your CV and a transcript of your grades to victor.kristof@epfl.ch and aswin.suresh@epfl.ch.