Public Affairs


The press in Europe: Freedom and pluralism at risk

The European Union has long been hailed as one of the areas of the world with the greatest press freedom. However, NGOs and international organisations warn that this may be under threat as the media becomes increasingly concentrated in ever fewer hands and some governments engage in politically-motivated lawsuits and outright censorship.

Who runs EU energy policies?

The EU is putting in place an ambitious energy policy in a bid to improve security of supplies and achieve bold CO2 reduction targets. But how does the EU decision-making process function on energy-related issues? And what is the role of the industry sector and interest groups?

The European Citizens’ Initiative

The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is the EU's foremost instrument of direct democracy and the first of its kind in a transnational context. Introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, will be used from 1 April 2012.

Musical chairs: Officials take turns at European Commission

Since the presentation of the new team of European commissioners by José Manuel Barroso, officials have been busy swapping seats in a round of 'musical chairs' that involves some of the most powerful EU jobs in Brussels.

Transparency Initiative

The drive to strengthen ethics rules for EU policymakers and the estimated 15,000 lobbyists, NGOs and other pressure groups seeking to influence them in Brussels has triggered extensive public debate since the European Commission launched its Transparency Initiative in 2005. But will it be enough to restore citizens' confidence in the European project? 

EU Communication Policy

Communicating with EU citizens has long been a primary concern of the European Commission, with the need to boost popular trust in the European project becoming more important following the rejection of the EU constitution by French and Dutch voters and more recently rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish.

The changing face of European think-tanks

The number of think-tanks in Europe has more than quadrupled in recent years, and they have become more active and inventive at disseminating policy solutions to decision-makers. But they are at risk of turning into lobbyists as they face issues related to funding, autonomy and innovation.
Digital & Media 25-02-2009

Media regulation in the Internet age

The fast-moving world of Web-based media has long been defined by a lack of regulation, but as legislators and industry begin to grapple with reigning in the Internet, issues of state aid, freedom of expression and intellectual property have come to the fore.

Consumer communications: A more popular EU?

Consumer policy is moving up the European Commission's agenda as the EU becomes increasingly concerned about its popularity level among citizens.
Digital & Media 17-04-2008

Web 2.0: New opportunities, new risks

New user-friendly technologies have made the Internet more interactive, turning millions of users into content creators and increasing the services available online. The changes introduced have created a kind of second-generation Internet - the so-called Web 2.0.

Blogs: Filling the EU’s ‘communication gap’?

Recent years have seen the emergence of a wide variety of blogs on EU affairs, and even European commissioners have begun to post daily messages on their websites under José Manuel Barroso's tenure. But will blogs really lead to more intelligent European debate? 

Corporate Social Responsibility: Back on the EU agenda?

The financial and economic crises have prompted companies to move away from 'business as usual' social models in an effort to behave more responsibly. The question now is whether the new European Commission will revive the debate on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) after a period of stagnation.

Associations Going Global

With the onward march of globalisation, companies are often faced with a bewildering range of standards to which their products must conform. A preferable option is adherence to a consistent set of standards, even if they are the most exacting. Trade associations increasingly seek to follow this trend by becoming relevant actors in global-policy definition.

Stakeholder consultation: A voice for civil society in Europe?

EU institutions have always sought input by national administrations, businesses and civil society groups - or lobbyists - to assist them shaping or implementing policies. The practice became compulsory in 1997 with the Amsterdam Treaty requiring the Commission to consult widely and publish documents before putting forward major new pieces of legislation. This led to the adoption of basic principles for public consultation to ensure all relevant interested parties are properly heard. Three years on, the Commission wants to take the process to the next level by making public consultations a full aspect of EU lawmaking. In doing this, the Commission hopes to bolster the EU's transparency and legitimacy and regain public trust in the European project.

Coalitions and their influence on EU decision-making

Coalition building - or the art of setting up alliances to influence policy outcomes - has long been dominated in Brussels by trade associations representing a specific business or industrial sector. These traditional types of coalitions are generally well respected by EU institutions because of the legitimacy they gain from the volume of members they represent - whether individual companies or national trade associations. However, today, these long-established coalitions are being challenged by smaller ones led by a handful of companies who decide to break away from the pack. Inspired by NGO tactics, these often short-term and ad hoc coalitions tend to engage in a more aggressive, single-issue type of lobbying oriented almost exclusively on communication campaigns.

Integrated associations one year after enlargement [Archived]

With the EU's enlargement to ten new member states on 1 May 2004, most European associations, industry federations, trade unions and NGOs have had to adapt their internal structure and working practices to make room for the newcomers. One year on, EURACTIV looks at how enlargement has actually affected the way associations work.

EU and US approaches to lobbying

Although lobbying techniques in Brussels and Washington are often considered similar, public affairs professionals on both sides of the Atlantic are convinced that differences in "style and substance" will remain between the two capitals. Language and national cultures are only part of the explanation. The traditional, consensus-based approach to EU policy-making and lobbying will probably continue to contrast with the highly professionalised and more aggressive US-style for many years to come. Above all, political institutions in Brussels and Washington are different animals which require to be approached in quite distinct ways.

Alternative Regulation

In the White Paper and in the Better Regulation action plan, the Commission proposes to make greater use of alternatives to traditional legislation without undermining the provisions of the Treaty or the prerogatives of the legislator. It suggests that certain policy objectives can be achieved with the use of alternative regulations, such as co-regulation, the open method of coordination and voluntary sectoral agreements.

Accountability of NGOs

This LinksDossier covers the increasing demand for greater accountability of civil society interest groups that influence EU policy-making.

Access to Documents

The Amsterdam Treaty introduced Article 255, which gives citizens a right of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. Under this article, in May 2001, the EU adopted a regulation on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.