Highlights from EuroConference – Trends in Lobbying

Do you have an image of what lobbying looks like on Capitol Hill? American associations do a fair share of lobbying in D.C. to advocate for their causes, but you might not be familiar with the lobbying system in Europe. At Kellen Europe’s EuroConference this May, a panel of experts tackled the theme of “Trends in Lobbying.” Since attendees at the conference were European association executives, the panelists shared their experiences in the European system.

The panelists were:

  • Lyn Trytsman-Gray, Senior Vice President, European Affairs RTL Group
  • Dr. Susanna Di Feliciantonio, Head of EU Public Affairs, The Institute of Chartered  Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • Jos van den Akker, Policy advisor to Esther de Lange, European Parliament
  • Moderator: Dani Kolb, Manager Kellen Europe

The discussion addressed how interest representation has changed over the past 5-10 years and what tools and strategies they use to represent their organizations’ interests. Their key takeaways were:

  • Don’t overlobby. When your organization is active lobbying in a very specific sector on a very technical issue, there are only few people in the parliament or in the institutions that have the technical background to understand your concerns. You  need to talk to these people but don’t overdo it. Since there are only a few of them, you don’t want to wear out your welcome.
  • Provide factual information.  As an association, you are expected to provide up to date and truthful information. Make sure you do your research.
  • Location, location, location. More and more corporations open their own offices in Brussels so they can be active in EU affairs. Opening a Brussels office will allow your organization to focus on lobbying.
  • Use your position. The institutions like to deal with associations, as they speak with one voice and have a ‘bundled’ industry opinion. You can become the voice of your members and industry in regulatory affairs.

While many people think that the American and European lobbying systems are very different, many of the strategies and tactics used in both places are similar. Do you think they’re similar? What do you think we can learn from each system?

To learn more about EuroConference, visit http://www.kelleneurope.com/documents/KellenEuropeEuroConference2012.pdf.

Nele Devolder
External Relations
Kellen Europe