Machiavelli in Brussels: The Art of Lobbying the EU

By Rinus Van Schendelen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
PUSHING THE BUTTONS OF 'BRUSSELS'

Managing the Crucial Variables

The ultimate goal of public affairs management (PAM) is to achieve a complete victory in a supposedly interesting game. The victory is complete if one has gained the desired outcome from the EU, received substantial support from the other stakeholders, and succeeded in overcoming opposition at home comfortably. The chance of such a full score is, however, low. In real-life, competition in the EU is usually extremely strong and hard. EU officials act under many cross-pressures, competitors quietly hold the belief that it is in their common interest to prevent one player gaining all, and other interest groups at home may feel threatened if one achieves a full score at EU level. Every player, therefore, has reason to be already satisfied if it has won the game only partially and/or has maintained its position in the fighting arena and/or has kept its home organisation on its side. Compromise, respect and backing might be seen as second-class prizes to win, but are in reality frequently valued as the highest attainable and thus as satisfying ones. They give a prolonged licence to operate.

Of course, one may completely lose as well. In this case, one is not party to the compromise and/or one gets less respect from others and/or one loses backing at home. But as long as a pressure group continues to play actively and prudently, it seldom runs this risk. By participating actively it usually becomes part of the compromise and by acting prudently it can both retain respect for its position and maintain its backing at home. In short, the full score is normally only a daydream and the complete defeat only a nightmare. Both rarely occur, but, paradoxically, both have their useful functions. Without the daydream of becoming the complete winner and without the nightmare of ending up as the complete loser, no sportsman can ever hope to become a competitive player.

The desired outcome can be anything coming from the EU. The main field

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