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Synthesis approach of lobbying and national culture

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A brief comparative approach of Lobbying - Lobbying a democratic play or a political deviancy?
A first definition / The cultural dimension / A need for a regulation to avoid any trouble for the democracy.

Published in: News & Politics
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Synthesis approach of lobbying and national culture

  1. 1. AApppprrooaacchh ooff tthhee EEuurrooppeeaann lloobbbbyyiinngg European Union and comparative approach Lobbying ? Democratic play or political deviancy? By prof.Viviane de Beaufort, Essec business school, jean Monnet chair
  2. 2. Outline Lobbying, a first definition 1/ Lobbying is a professional activity 2/ Lobbying includes a cultural dimension « / Is there a need for a regulation to avoid any trouble for the democraty? Keywords: Lobbying, ethics, public debate, democraty
  3. 3. Did you say : Lobbying? A first definition: - pressure group that tries to influence policies - activities of persons representing a group of interests - communication technique that aims to influence public authorities … Beyond the simple expression of a viewpoint, lobbying can be a means of helping a public decision-making body
  4. 4. 1/ Lobbying is a professional activity Do to an efficient lobbying requires: To anticipate (strategic approach) To provide proper arguments, technical to convince To be able to build an ad hoc network (strategic alliances) because a specific interest will not be accepted. You need to share acceptable views, meaning the “public interest” or close to it. In this way, lobbying is a sort of expertise
  5. 5. Few steps of lobbying - Monitoring to have the good information - at the right time - To get involve from the get-go - Doing lobbying : Mediation with public powers (proposition of text, proposal of amendments, explanations – the good argument) - Possible Institutional Communication with the media & public (the right folder)
  6. 6. Lobbying Actors at Brussels Professional federations, Offices of large companies Lobbying consulting firms Regions or Lander, Chambers of Commerce, States from outside, Non- governmental organisations (NGO)
  7. 7. No specific diploma but a real job While it requires no specific training, no specific diploma… Lobbying is clearly a distinctive job that demands the knowledge of the institutional system, understanding of laws and texts, a good sense of public relations and communication, languages, and – increasingly – specific technical expertise.
  8. 8. 2/ A comparative approach Cultural backgrounds
  9. 9. Lobbying at Brussels (EU) When you are in Brussels, it is a lawful activity and even a necessity. Lobbying is the condition of a dialogue between political leaders and civil society. Lobbying is a useful representation of economic interests but also an emerging civil society. The Commission and the European Parliament welcome and encourage it. But in some States, as in France: it is less clear, sometimes it is assimilated to private interest traffic…
  10. 10. Lobbying roots are in the US and GB In US, lobbying is virtually a civic duty (the 1st Amendment of the Constitution) The presence and role of medias, lawyers is important , grassroot lobbying is well developped. In GB, lobbying is a part of the Political game. Elected officers support and fully disclose private interests Lobbying is widespread in anglo-saxon culture.
  11. 11. The Latin Lobbying remains often secret and suspicious  Rely heavily on networking at the highest level.  General interest supersedes private interest as the majors players are representative employers’ organizations and elected officers.  There is a tradition of State expertise and elitism.  In a way, representative democracy excludes direct democracy for a part as a result , Lobbying exist … But it is not so clear.
  12. 12. EU & Latin world- a brief comparison  Consensus culture at the European Union scale but more clash culture in Latin world  Critical influence of Expert opinion and consultations on the political decisions at the EU, Little influence of the Expert on the decision making process in Latin world  Elitism influence and network is Strong in Latin world  In politics, Right / Left wing split is Weak in EU, Strong in Latin world  Parliament weight in political life is Strong in EU, Weak in latin world  Influence of the civil society is Strong in EU, Weak in Latin world  Network are strong but the « street » demonstrations can play a role. Openness towards lobbying at the EU,general denial of lobbying activities in Latin world
  13. 13. Habits of Lobbying at Brussels At the end, everyone is doing lobbying At Brussels but…With different resources and approaches US : A highly structured and active Lobby with the Amcham EU Committee (American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium) that represents numerous of US private entities; Germany : Professional Federations Lobbying /Sector experts are solicited by politicians / Active members of the parliament gather in important movements. French people have taken on the logic of the system, even the Permanent Representation plays an important role trying to establish links with civil society
  14. 14. 3/ Lobbying a tool or a threat for democracy? Depending on…  Lobbyists are relays between civil society and civil servants or politics.  Lobbyists are mouthpieces for modern participative democracy.  Lobbying has become more and more a normal practice. Businesses, NGOs and all of civil society react more and more strongly when public decisions jeopardize their interests.  The usual channels of representation and dialog no longer suffice. On a day to day scale everyone try to bring its own view in the debate.
  15. 15. A tool or a threat ? Depending on… As a consequence, public authorities pay increasing attention to what civil society has to say. Consultations before taking any decisions are more and more systematic (at the European scale : green papers, consultations on the Europa website, white book, surveys, public hearings led by the European Parliament).
  16. 16. Ethical lobbying , a requirement In this perspective, few questions remain: How to perform the functions of a lobbyist with professional competence, personal integrity and civic responsibility? How to assure the public that lobbying is done ethically ? How to be sure in the integrity and impartiality of government decision-making? There should be an “Ethically responsible lobbying” which serves the public debate with a clear identification of all of the interests being represented in the attempt to influence policy.
  17. 17. Regulation or Code of ethics? Which system of lobbyist registration and disclosure? Is it useful to elaborate an EC rule or maybe national rules? The comparison made shows there is no clear rules of game (see in the article - table annex 2) GB : No regulation / No registry / Numerous Interparlementary Groups Germany : Registration and official pass rights France: Not recognized by assemblies, pass rights without clear rules Is it better to establish a common Code of conduct and professional regulations?
  18. 18. Regulation of professionnal codes?  Lobbying is a job that most professionals carry out in compliance with the law and morals. But where power and money mix, this may not always be the case; hence the need for rules.  Be they regulatory or professional, the rules must meet at least two criteria: they must create transparency, and must make it possible to pick out rotten apples.
  19. 19. The debate is now spreading in States with an alternative The diversity of countries’ situations, profiles and activities makes it impossible to draw up an official ‘regulated profession’-type statute for all lobbyists. See OCDE principles Professional lobbyists must put forward a professional standard that acts as a seal of quality. A code of ethical principles but also sanctions in case and a control body (See Canada rules) What about in each State, an “ethics committee” made up of professional lobbyists and institution members, to guarantee independence as well as competence. Members would be (consultants, salaried lobbyists, NGOs) appointed for five years by cooptation and renewable by half to ensure the committee remains continuous and not stifled (members cannot be reelected to ensure greater independence of judgment), along with officials and academics [
  20. 20. As a conclusion…  In any modern democracy, a place must be done to a direct expression of private economic and social interests.  Lobbying is therefore a tool for an efficient democracy if… these activities are conducted in an ethical and professional way  To improve transparency with registers at the European and national scales is a good think, to the other hand professional lobbyists must ensure a self control and regulation of their jobs.

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