Lobbying agriculture and nature in the EU
25 May 2016 - 11:41

Effective interest representation at the EU-level is vital for all EU Member States, organisations as well as companies.

Tony Bass, Senior Visiting Fellow of Clingendael, trained participants from the Agriculture and Nature department (DG) of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs in their lobbying skills.

Lobbying the European Union in Brussels and beyond: Preparing

When the complexity of the EU was unravelled by different lecturers, the participants were challenged to step out of their comfort zone and practise their lobbying skills.

Nature and agriculture are two areas in which the EU has great influence, as is for example reflected by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Although the Netherlands has a strong position in agriculture, competition from other countries and organisations is growing.

When you want to represent your national interests, where do you start? The Commission? The Parliament? The Council?

Or do you start with the national governments, and work from there? Lobbying the EU is not necessarily done in Brussels, but it can also be done in many other places.

Preparing is key. In small groups the participants came up with a plan to influence the EU on a topic of their choice.

Putting skills into practice

After two days of theory and practice, the group left to Brussels to meet with lobbyists and representatives of the Netherlands and the EU. They visited the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands to the EU, spoke with different officials from the European Commission, and visited Copa Cogeca.

Copa Cogeca is an important EU-wide lobby organisation in the field of agriculture. It represents 23 million European farmers and 22,000 agricultural cooperatives, making it one of the biggest lobbyists in the EU. Participants learned from their expertise as they are lobbying on the CAP and current issues like aquaculture, trade negotiations and agricultural commodities.

The skills obtained in the training could be applied immediately during a network lunch to which, among others, Neth-ER was represented: an important ally for the participants from the DG.

Five more modules to come

This programme was just one part of the course, as there are five more modules to come: by participating in six modules, policy officers obtain the relevant knowledge of international policy making, and develop and practise their negotiation and intercultural communication skills.

This course is organised annually by the Clingendael Institute.

Interested in improving and practising your lobbying skills?

The Clingendael Academy course "Effective interest management and Lobbying in the European Union" may be right for you.

For other training courses, please visit our courses page.