The Nature and Resources of Groups
Some accounts loosely treat interest representation as synonymous with formal interest groups. Although this text places some emphasis upon interest representation occurring through a variety of outlets, ranging from individual firms through to informal fora and formal groups, it is worth devoting special attention to formal groups because of the dominant position they occupy in European interest representation and intermediation. Indeed, the 200 firms with public affairs offices in Brussels may be set against a Commission estimate of 3000 groups (Chapter 1) interacting on the Brussels environment (Commission of the European Communities, 1992a). These estimates should, however, be approached with some degree of caution, because, as Grant illustrates, a variety of different figures have been produced from a number of different sources and authors (Grant, 1995). No one knows yet with any certainty what the exact figures are, although the impending publication of a Commission database of groups should go a long way to resolving the problem. Similarly, the popularity of the estimate of 10 000 individuals working in the interest representation sector (Chapter 1) seems to arise more from the frequency with which this figure is cited than from any solid foundations for such a claim.
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