This study examines the lobbying strategies employed by the German energy industries in the process leading up to EU's Renewable Energy Directive. The focus is on the most controversial part of it: Choice of support mechanisms for increasing production of renewable energy in Europe. The position on this issue roughly divided the energy industry into two sectors: the utilities, favoring green certificates and other supranational incentives and the renewables industry, promoting feed-in tariffs. Nine interest organizations, five German and four at the European level, serve as cases. Expectations based on the two theoretical perspectives liberal intergovernmentalism (LI) and multi-level governance (MLG) are formulated and tested against the empirics in a most likely case design. In addition, resources, mainly in terms of manpower, are assessed as a conditioning factor for choice of lobbying strategies.
The findings show that the observations provide more support for the multi-level perspective, MLG, than for liberal intergovernmentalism, LI. Two findings supported the LI perspective: 1) All the German interest organizations put top priority at lobbying the German government. 2) The interest organizations provided German decision makers with crucial information. As envisioned by the MLG-perspective, there was a clear division of work between the organizations at the two political levels. Further, the lobbying activity displayed several multi-level characteristics. First, all the German interest organizations lobbied both at the national and at the European level. Second, the national interest organizations participated in multi-level political coalitions, in particular the renewables industry. There, they coordinated their political positions, pooled resources, shared information and made common strategies. Third, all the European-level interest organizations lobbied both the core EU institutions and national governments. Fourth, their information strategy matched the Commission's need for critical information on the complicated issues involved. It might be expected that interest groups loosing at home could try to “by-pass” national politics by lobbying extra much at the European level, but the observations are inconclusive in this respect. That more resources were associated with a higher number of lobbying channels was true at the European level, but not nationally. The number of political channels used by the German interest organizations rather depended on level of political mobilization and creating of broad coalitions.