Effective EU influencing is hard work
23 May 2016 - 10:23
Source: Flickr / European Parliament

Who do I need to talk to if I want to influence EU policy in my field? How do I find out what is going on? What do EU officials expect from a lobby meeting? Should it be a formal office-hour meeting, or can we chat over drinks? What are the biggest pitfalls to avoid when lobbying the European Commission?

These and more questions are addressed at the EU training courses organised by Clingendael Academy, such as the June 23-24 training “Effective interest management and lobbying in the EU”.

Effective lobbying is effective preparation

Effective influencing of EU policy is becoming a must for many individuals who are not public affairs specialists. But how can these civil servants, researchers, or SME executives navigate the maze of EU interest representation?

Margaret Thatcher once famously said that “To Understand the EU you have to be a Genius, or French”. Unfortunately this is a challenge that those wishing to steer developments in the Belgian capital will need to face head-on.

The overriding message is: do your homework. Prepare, prepare and then prepare some more.

The main poor lobbying practices

Presenting your case to the wrong person at the wrong time and failing to understand the EU legislative process are consistently among the top poor lobbying practices highlighted by EU decision makers.

When you do sit down with the right person, make sure you have the facts and figures ready to support your case, especially when dealing with the European Commission.

Emotional arguments uncorroborated by hard data tend to hold little sway with the often-technocratic Commission officials.

Transparency and consistency are key

In all your contacts with decision makers and influencers in Brussels, it is crucial to be open and transparent about who you are and what you want. Being vague about who you represent, and what your interests are, is the quickest way to find yourself on the outside looking in, with no way back.

Brussels is like a small village where everyone knows and talks to everyone else, also within the institutions, so keep your message consistent. If you are changing positions depending on your audience, you are unlikely to remain a trusted source for long.  

Training options at Clingendael Academy

Clingendael Academy offers tailor-made trainings on how to work effectively with Brussels, and offers open registration courses on effective influencing and EU negotiations.

For Dutch civil servants Clingendael also provides a four-day introductory course on the functioning of the EU, from the larger regulatory framework to the day-to-day reality on-the-ground.

More information?

Please contact Mr. Christiaan Nelisse, Training and Research Fellow, Clingendael Academy.