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How Brussels Works



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Assemble an information network Respect the level principle of decision-making
Information transparency is a problem in the EU, and obtaining Most legislation, at some stage, is written by experts and officials
timely information will be a major challenge. Specialised media, at a lower level. In many cases, these experts are your main star-
including electronic, cover EU political and legislative develop- ting point. Include them in your approach, and you will gain their
ments. Nevertheless, your own network within EU institutions, respect. Calling in the higher political echelon will be productive
other associations, and among your members will provide you when there is a deadlock, an unwillingness to deal with your issue,
with an indispensable alert system and a means of accessing vital or high political stakes.

Play the reciprocity game
Be proactive Never take without giving. There is a chronic and apparent need
The earlier you intervene in the legislative process, the more ef- on the part of EU decision-makers for market data, industry infor-
fective you will be. Build your relationships before you actually mation, and expertise. The best way to capture the EU official‘s
need something. Schedule introductory meetings with officials interest and also indirectly influence decision-makers is to provi-
and other contact persons to get to know each other and exchange de these data. Always offer an acceptable alternative when you
views. This will also help you to adopt the right approach with eve- are trying to prevent or change a regulation. Providing informa-
ry official. tion or supporting the Commission in areas that are not of your
direct interest could also build your credibility and advance your
3 primary interest.

Know your audience 8

Before approaching a government department, understand that
particular department‘s agenda and interests. In the European Always follow-up
Commission, for example, Directorate General I (external com- One secret to successful lobbying is to follow-up every lead, every
mercial relations), will have a different set of interests from Direc- letter you write, every contact you make, and every initiative you
torate General III (fostering European industry). Adapting your take. Write a thank-you letter to an official you have met. It will give
message to their interests will help you gain their attention and you the opportunity to restate your arguments and repeat what you
influence their decision-making. expect from him or her.

Subscribe to the principles of European integration Be aware of cultural differences
Your case should always be presented as something able to make a An official of Portuguese origin will express himself differently
contribution to the aims of European integration, which is based on from a German. A UK Member of Parliament will have different
a number of principles, such as free movement of goods and per- expectations from his or her Greek colleague. Become familiar
sons, social cohesion, the fight against unemployment, and com- with these differences.
petitiveness. Highlighting these principles, on which all European
legislation and initiatives are based, will enhance your profile.
Attention to Detail
The saying ‘the devil is in the details’ is always a useful one to have
Form alliances; know your opponents in mind. Often, the details of draft directives (such as annexes laying
It is very rare that a single interest group can make a strong enough down technical specifications) can result in unintended conse-
case. Building alliances with related groups (e. g. European coun- quences. Officials and parliamentarians will be grateful to anyone
terpart associations) is indispensable to your lobbying campaign. who can help them to avoid making fools of themselves. Attention
In some cases, you could set up an ad hoc organisation to present to detail also means making sure that you are following all develop-
a certain alliance lobbying a particular issue. Find out who your op- ments throughout the full co-decision procedure.
ponents are. Your argument will be more effective if it takes your
opponents‘ into account.