Management of interests: ‘Multi-level lobbying’

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

In order to make their voices heard within the multi-level governance systems of the European Union, federations must keep an eye both on the European and the national level, authors Hans F. Bellstedt, Sandra Roling and Hubert Koch state in the recent edition of the German magazine ‘Verbändereport’ (‘Federation Report’). 

In the course of ‘Europeanisation’ of policy decision-making processes, enterprises and federations increasingly have to spread their attention on several levels. It is important to take care of the political agenda in Brussels, as well as in their respective home countries, in order to influence them with respect to their own interests at the earliest possible stage, authors Hans F. Bellstedt, Sandra Rolling and Hubert Koch write. 

Furthermore, according to Bellstedt and Roling, Brussels and – in the German case – Berlin interact like “communicating pipes”, so that their interdependency should always be taken into account. They point out that with well-directed statements and complaints, the desired results and even the revision of unpleasant decisions can be brought about. 

According to the authors, it is vital to unite in form of a federation, if possible on European level, in order to “create new centres of power”.

These efforts are welcomed by politicians – they not only appreciate the pooling of interests and depend on the know-how of respective industries because of increasing complex policy decisions, they are also aware of the increased acceptance of a decision if it is supported by a federation. 

According to Koch, the golden rule ‘talk, don’t write’, still applies. Stakeholders, who wish to have a one-on-one appointment, contact only those federations which are present in Brussels or Berlin. He points to a number of criteria that should be taken into account by federations that wish to assign an external service provider to manage their interests. 

Bellstedt and Roling claim that one crucial element is still missing for lobbying activities at the European level: a common European public, which one should bring around to one’s interests. This requires more publishers, journalists and – last but not least – citizens who act and think against a European background, according to the authors.

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