The notion of lobbying often carries negative images, sometimes even of bribery, and this notion has made efforts to demystify lobbying practices in Brussels difficult. While such incidents are most certainly alarming these exceptions should not overshadow the fact that lobbying is part of every democracy. Scholars refer to lobbying as “a natural, modern extension of the traditional right of petition”. As such, lobbying is a driver of the political process and helps realise the European vision. It is sometimes hard to see this underlying common goal because Brussels is a contested space with many conflicting interests.
However, engaging in a debate is crucial for success as Brussels can be characterised in terms of the interdependence of its actors: legislators depend on expertise provided by the industry in order to make good decisions. The industry in turn relies on legislators who need to ensure the functioning of the sector.
For the European Banking Federation, for instance, working together with regulators is vital for contributing to the success of the Single Market. With utmost transparency, the EBF represents the interest of Europe’s banks, which hold 75% of the total private sector credit. The Federation makes all its position papers publicly available. Lobbying is thus at the heart of democracy with the aim of making an impact on the development of Europe by being present during the legislative process.
By Carina Handelmann – Trainee PR & Communications