Machiavelli in Brussels: The Art of Lobbying the EU

By Rinus Van Schendelen | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 5
MANAGING THE HOME FRONT

Who Is Acting, Why, for What Reason, and With What Result?

The simple-minded lobby group gives the answer before the question is posed. It takes its self-image as self-knowledge, its motivation for the action as self-evident and its objectives as clear enough. It divides the results into two categories: the losses are to be blamed on the others and the gains are, of course, due to its own performance. In daily practice, such an interest group will continually blame the others and whitewash itself. The conscious interest group, in contrast, knows that its internal affairs are always an incomplete puzzle, its motivations characterised by uncertainties and its objectives full of dilemmas. It divides the results into at least four categories: both the losses and the gains can have been caused by either its own behaviour or by outside (f)actors. Its aim, however, is to strengthen the causal relationship between its behaviour and the results, in short to get the desired results and to prevent the undesired ones. Therefore, it has to define its desires clearly, to consider its motivations thoughtfully, and to review its organisation critically. The person responsible for doing this usually faces much internal dissent. Many a Public Affairs official has the experience that organising public affairs at home takes at least 60% of his/her energy. The remainder is spent on the EU officials and the other stakeholders. The own organisation is usually a difficult arena.

Our approach is, once again, not normative but advisory. There is no good reason why a lobby group or even a citizen should not be allowed to act in a simple-minded or amateurish manner. It may hold values that sufficiently justify such behaviour. But if an interest group (or a citizen) wants to create real chances to influence its challenging EU environment, then it should take the EU arenas as sources of inspiration for the development of its own organisation, strategies and agendas. For this reason chapter 4 came before this one. Every lobby group with the ambition to create a desired outcome from EU decision-making should not be introvertively focused primarily on its own inner world. Otherwise it cannot go window-in

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