Brussels versus the Beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union

Brussels versus the Beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union

Brussels versus the Beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union

Brussels versus the Beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union


This book presents the first large-scale study of lobbying strategies and outcomes in the United States and the European Union, two of the most powerful political systems in the world. Every day, tens of thousands of lobbyists in Washington and Brussels are working to protect and promote their interests in the policymaking process. Policies emanating from these two spheres have global impacts -- they set global standards, they influence global markets, and they determine global politics. Armed with extensive new data, Christine Mahoney challenges the conventional stereotypes that attribute any differences between the two systems to cultural ones -- the American, a partisan and combative approach, and the European, a consensus-based one.

Mahoney draws from 149 interviews involving 47 issues to detail how institutional structures, the nature of specific issues, and characteristics of the interest groups combine to determine decisions about how to approach a political fight, what arguments to use, and how to frame an issue. She looks at how lobbyists choose lobbying tactics, public relations strategies, and networking and coalition activities. Her analysis demonstrates that advocacy can be better understood when we study the lobbying of interest groups in their institutional and issue context. This book offers new insights into how the process of lobbying works on both sides of the Atlantic.


Lobbying is a thriving industry on both sides of the Atlantic. K Street is notorious in Washington as the locus of high-powered lobbyists, with the Hill as the primary object of their attention. Round Point Schuman and Avenue de Cortenbergh form the geographical center in Brussels, with lobbyists descending on Berlaymont and Parliament. Both systems involve a wide range of advocates juggling for a role in the policymaking process, from beekeepers to chemical manufacturers, environmentalists to fishermen, recreational boaters to soda makers. If you can think of an interest, industry, institution, or idea, you can probably find a representative promoting its case in the two capitals.

The number of citizen groups, lobbying firms, professional associations, geographic representations, corporations, religious groups, think tanks, and foundations that are making sure their concerns are heard in the policymaking process is ever-growing in both the United States and the European Union. In both capitals, their advertisements can be seen in the major newspapers, their posters on bus stops, and their position papers in the offices of policymakers. Literally hundreds of lobbyists can be seen dashing to and from lunchtime meetings nearly every day of the year in the cafes of the Place du Luxembourg and restaurants of Dupont Circle. It seems the work of U.S. and EU advocates is nearly identical. Their aims are the same: influence public policy in their favor; their means appear indistinguishable: letters, e-mails, meetings, advertisements, demonstrations, coalitions, media outreach; and their effect seems similar: watchdog groups in both Washington and Brussels are relentless in their criticism of the influence of special interests. Are U.S. and EU advocacy comparable? Does the same process explain advocacy strategies and advocacy success in both polities?

Some observers would say no. Citing cultural differences, many practitioners and scholars argue lobbying in Brussels is a fundamentally different enterprise than that found across the ocean. Caricatures have developed of . . .

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