Machiavelli in Brussels: The Art of Lobbying the EU

By Rinus Van Schendelen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
MANAGING THE FIELDWORK

Lobbying: the Essential Link

After coming to the conclusion that its challenge should be solved or saved by lobbying on the EU playing field, the lobby group has to choose its ways and means of going window-out and -in. One option, of course, is to make use of the standard patterns of permitted or invited participation, such as the membership of a EuroFed, the request for consultation by the Commission, the Parliament hearing or, in some cases, the national co-ordination procedure at home. These orthodox ways have some advantages, such as their low costs of acquisition, the easy opportunities they provide to meet officials and their efficient window-out monitoring. Against these stand important disadvantages. The orthodox ways are open to many stakeholders, are therefore easily overcrowded and provide little opportunity to gain an edge over rivals. They are unfit for window-in activities. Being standardised, they are hard to engineer according to one's specific needs, for example, of timing and boundary control. Another option, more in addition to than replacing the former, is to develop unorthodox ways and means or forms of action. The popular key term for this is lobbying.

Originally, the term refers to the special practices of interest group representatives in the US Congress in the late 19th century [Milbrath, 1963; US/GAO, 1999]. Waiting in the lobbies of the Congress buildings, they urged the Congressmen passing by to vote 'yea' or 'nay' [Matthews and Stimson, 1975]. In the course of time, this 'lobbying' developed from merely corridor behaviour to a broader and more sophisticated set of activities, ranging from providing information to organising mass publicity and giving political or even financial support. The last-mentioned activity, which sometimes developed into bribery, has given lobbying a bad name among many ordinary people. The increasingly stricter regulation of lobbying in the USA since the mid-1920s, through both codes of conduct and registration, has barely improved this bad name. As a technical term it remains, however, useful. It refers to all sorts of unorthodox actions of interest groups

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