Coalitions Building


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How to build EU public affairs coalitions. A practical guide.

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Coalitions Building

  1. 1. Setting up and Managing Coalitions Successfully MARCO TORREGROSSA Founder and Managing Director Euro Freelancers & European Sharing Economy Coalition 01/02/2013
  2. 2. Aristotle “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
  3. 3. Coalitions: an overview • Unprecedented raise in the set up of ‘European coalitions’, now integral part of PA in Brussels • Google search gives 117mln results • Set up between groups and organizations which until recently would barely talk to one another • Focus, function and impact of coalitions vary considerably
  4. 4. Coalitions: focus, function and impact 1. Focus – Aligning and common positioning on an issue – Advocating policy change or grassroots awareness – Influencing public opinion and EU decision makers 2. Function – Own internal governance – Information sharing – Interfacing with decision makers 3. Impact – Continuously achieve small milestones towards final outcome – Maximized outreach and stronger voice – Wider representation gives more credibility than single player
  5. 5. Trends favouring coalition building • More complex and fast-moving PA environment (in terms of digital media, regulatory developments, transversal influence, complex hierarchies) requires flexible, yet well-aligned advocacy • High credibility, pan European outreach and focused goals make coalitions an ideal campaign vehicle • Coalitions can leverage the use resources more efficiently: – Make it easier to gather expertise – Have greater representativeness – Enable organisations to engage in a far higher number of key policy debates than they could possibly do on their own • New digital media opportunities and changing information landscape greatly enhance external profile and the reach of coalitions
  6. 6. Coalitions: a very brief typology 1. Trade Association 2. Vertical Issue-Driven Coalition 3. Horizontal Issue-Driven Coalition 4. Multistakeholder Coalition 5. Front Coalition
  7. 7. 1. Trade Association • Important source of information and intelligence for members based far away from Brussels • Powerful PA instrument to the extent that: – a common position can be found – a targeted and coherent campaign can be run – the EU regulator consults and trusts trade associations • Danger: internal decision making is time-consuming and results in the promotion of the lowest common denominator among members (vague, soft and unworkable consensus) • Agency support: instrumental to advise on strategy and support tactical execution of PA plans
  8. 8. 2. Vertical Issue-Driven Coalition • Far more similar backgrounds of members, usually around a very technical issue • Congregates around one point the members agree on, eg. a specific sustainability issue • Yet linked by common concern throughout value chain • Agency support: keep members focused, manage sensitivities, facilitate dialogue, steer discussions, help drive agenda, translate technical issues in political positions
  9. 9. 3. Horizontal Issue-Driven Coalition • United around one horizontal issue, often more generic than the vertical coalition • In principle, all those concerned by the issue along the value chain can adhere coming from very different backgrounds • The choice of members is no longer linked to their representativity but to their capacity to unite around a common issue • Need to clearly define the common goal to effectively bridge structural and cultural diversity among members • Agency support: maintain issue focus, provide practical support services and align strategy, unite and engage
  10. 10. 4. Multistakeholder Coalition • Focus on discussions rather than trying to reach precise outcomes • The role of the coalition is to unite, exchange, experiment, inform and disseminate information • The role of the coalition is not about taking decisions or reaching common positions (members often too different) • Great sharing of skills and resources • Benchmarking of good practices • Better social recognition, stronger access to knowledge, innovation and opportunities that organizations might not be able to access alone • Enables civil society/business partnerships
  11. 11. 5. Front Coalition • Often set up to counter balance a dominant opposite position • Often set up to defend industry’s interests in difficult EU dossiers before the institutions • Often used to improve the image of a certain sector to the eyes of the decision makers, consumers or citizens • Often the funding is not transparent • Typically run by guns-for-hire agencies
  12. 12. Examples of Coalitions Activities • Educate on issues • Enable discussions • Mobilise constituents • Consult citizens • Crowdsource ideas • Inspire action • Drive advocacy
  13. 13. Advantages of Coalitions • A single voice • Strength in numbers • A message that resounds • Rapid response • Dynamism • Mass outreach • Thinking out of the box
  14. 14. Coalitions: Critical Success Factors • Sense of urgency • Clear goals • Tangible expected outcomes • Indicators to measure success • Motivated members • Real call for action • Seamless integration • Sustained nurturing • Transparency
  15. 15. Why Coalitions Fail • Activism vs slactivism • Short-termism • Self interest vs community interest • Vocal opposition • Lack of transparency • Real or perceived manipulation • Favor representativity over credibility • Lack of strong leadership (or a facilitator) • Too much energy into internal management rather than reaching external results
  16. 16. MULTIMEDIA PICTURE EDITOR NEEDED Examples of Successful Coalitions
  17. 17. A word of advice to the wise Coalitions are on the rise, but remember: “Influence in Brussels is personal”. -Tony Long, Director WWF European Policy Office
  18. 18. MARCO TORREGROSSA Founder and Managing Director Euro Freelancers & European Sharing Economy Coalition @eurofreelancers Independent EU Affairs and Funding Consultants