30,000 lobbyists are currently operating in Brussels; with this number increasing each year. They represent everything from private companies to nations’ interests and are estimated to influence 75% of European legislation. However, to efficiently lobby, one must employ the correct methods and tactics to achieve desired results.
Pascal Goergen is Secretary-General of the Federation of Regional Actors in Europe (FEDRA) and Professor at the EPHEC University College in Brussels. As a former Secretary General of the Assembly of European Regions and former diplomatic Representative of the Brussels-Capital Region to the EU, Pascal spent a lot of time within the institutions and observed the effective methods of lobbying, which lead him to write his new book, Lobbying & Networking in Brussels. After his first book, Networking in Brussels, Pascal chose to expand on his literature to show the nuanced interactions that networking and lobbying share.
What are lobbying and networking?
Coined lobbying due to the initial practice of waiting in the lobby of government buildings for a chance to speak to legislators. Lobbying is where someone, usually on behalf of an organisation, meets with legislators to influence them to pass legislation in their interests. This can include anything from lowering mobile phone roaming rates to passing agricultural bills.
Networking, within this perspective, is where you seek to broaden your lists of contacts with people who could provide you with beneficial resources or connections to help you in your lobbying pursuits.
Using them together
“Lobbying can’t exist without an efficient network.” says Pascal. Choosing to focus his book on the lobbying and networking in Brussels, Pascal views the interactions in “The Brussels Bubble” as key to efficiently lobby.
To be given the opportunity to meet people informally and state your purpose could be the precursor to gauging the situation with the legislator and then to tailor your approach with a more refined and measured tactic.
Issues with networking and lobbying
However, it is through this method that lobbying often gets its negative connotations. Ideas of shadow lobbying where private influencers can determine public legislation have many people sceptical on the idea of lobbying. “But ordinary people lobby every day. Even as a child, when you try to convince your parents to play outside instead of doing your homework, you’re lobbying,” says Pascal.
To combat this, The European Union set up a transparency register so citizens could view the ongoing dealings between companies and legislators. However, due to the dynamics between lobbying and networking, often, companies could further their relations with legislators outside of official buildings as the networking events within the Brussels bubble could still expose them to outside influence.
Good to Know
- Lobbying and Networking in Brussels – 20€ – available at Librebook