EURACTIV survey sheds light on EU lobbying strategies

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At a time of economic crisis, most industry federations and their members agree that the ability to influence EU policy by lobbying is federations’ biggest added value for business, according to a EURACTIV survey presented on 6 April.

86% of business representatives and 85% of federations themselves see lobbying the EU institutions as their most useful role, according to a survey on public affairs memberships presented to the 2009 general assembly of the Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) in Brussels. 

Activities related to monitoring (85%) and communicating (82%) EU policies are considered more important by federations themselves than by their members (61% and 55% respectively), according to the survey. 

Indeed, federations also value representation in Brussels far more highly (84%) than business (20%). 

Regular email contact

Industry federations (52%) and business (69%) agree that the biggest challenge for federations is balancing members’ differing interests, with the majority in contact with one another on a weekly, or to a lesser extent daily, basis. 

Email is by far and away the preferred medium for such communication (93% corporate; 87% federations), the survey found, but face-to-face contact is nevertheless highly valued (61% and 67% respectively). 

As for federations themselves, 45% said that staff and resource shortages are affecting their ability to fulfil their role effectively, and 39% identified differences in their members’ size and budgets as a problem. 



Federations expect membership increases

 

Over half of federations (51%) expect their membership to increase in the years to come, albeit modestly, with just 5% predicting a decrease. Corporate respondents, on the other hand, largely expect federation memberships to remain stable (49%), while 41% of federations themselves think likewise. 

Federation membership tends to be composed of a mixture of national associations and businesses (35%), with corporate members on the rise over the past year as a result of the economic crisis. 

Companies are also joining an increasing number of associations, according to the survey, with almost half (49%) members of more than five. 90% of corporate respondents consider federation membership to be an important means of achieving their public affairs objectives. 

Monday’s SEAP general assembly elected a new board, which will convene for the first time in May to decide upon members’ positions and responsibilities, including the identity of the new president. 

Current SEAP President Lyn Trytsman-Gray has held the position since December 2006. 

"SEAP is going from strength to strength. I am delighted with our increased membership and pleased that our members particularly value our code of conduct and our work representing their interests in discussions related to the European Transparency Initiative and other developments affecting how they operate," Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) President Lyn Trytsman-Gray told EURACTIV to mark the occasion of the association's twelfth AGM. 

Commenting on the findings of a EURACTIV survey on public affairs memberships, EURACTIV Publisher Christophe Leclercq told the AGM that "both federations and corporate representatives agree that the biggest challenge for federations is balancing members' differing interests". 

It reveals that "corporate representatives place significantly more value on sharing experience and liaising with peers, meaning they value other members over federation staff," Leclercq concluded. 

EURACTIV Public Relations Director Dan Luca said: "39% of federations have between 21 and 50 members. We can assume most federations cover the 27 member states with their memberships." "More than 40% of them declared they have in excess of 50 members, while 121 federations and consultancies also belong to EURACTIV as EurActor members," he added. 

"Companies have joined an increasing number of associations. Nearly half are members of more than five associations (compared to 25% in the 2007 EURACTIV survey of the corporate world)," Luca said, adding: "Only 5% of the corporate respondents are members of zero or only one association (compared to 27% in 2007)." 

EURACTIV gave a presentation on public affairs memberships to the 2009 general assembly of the Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) in Brussels on 6 April. 

The presentation was based on EURACTIV's latest surveys on EU public affairs, which were carried out in October and November last year. Over 300 stakeholders from federations, consultancies and industry responded. 

The surveys had found that the majority of organisations spend over half of their EU public affairs budgets in Brussels, but less than a quarter of this goes on direct lobbying (EURACTIV 09/03/09).

Factors that are expected to drive demand for public affairs this year include the need for firms to reposition themselves to cope with the ongoing economic crisis, the transparency initiative launched by Administration and Anti-Fraud Commissioner Siim Kallas in 2005 (see EURACTIV LinksDossier) and the EU elections.

EU citizens are poised to elect a new European Parliament in June, while a new EU executive is expected to be appointed in the autumn (see EURACTIV LinksDossier).

Founded in 1997, SEAP represents over 260 European public affairs professionals including consultants, lawyers and representatives of trade associations and NGOs. 

  • May 2009: First meeting of new SEAP board to decide members' responsibilities and positions, including the identity of the next president. 
  • June 2009: Elections to the European Parliament. 
  • June 2009: EURACTIV workshop on trends in public affairs. 
  • Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP):Homepage

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