Editor European Affairs
Editor European Affairs
Helicia Herman and Sonja Planitzer explain what an MEP can do for you, how to reach the right person, how to prepare for lobbying, and present advice from MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz.
Lobbying Your MEPs
Currently there are about 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels (consultants, lawyers, trade associations, corporations, NGOs) seeking to influence Commission officials and MEPs in their decision making process. Officially, MEPs attend to their own government policies, the political grouping they belong to in the European Parliament (EP), their constituents and lobby groups in Brussels. You can lobby an MEP to:
• Vote in a certain way on legislation
• Represent an opinion in committee discussions on new laws, and
• Put you in touch with other MEPs interested in your campaign
Your MEPs also have a responsibility to help you understand European laws and advise you on their impact.
Tips for Lobbying
Targeting the Right Mep - A full list of MEPs is available
at: www.europarl.eu.int/members/public.do? language=en. To target and prioritize who to
lobby, you need to research MEPs’ interests:
• Which Parliament Committee do they belong to? (Prioritise members over substitutes). See: www.europarl.eu.int/activities/expert/committees. ?language=en
• Do they chair or vice chair their European political group? See:www.europarl.eu.int/members/expert. do? language=EN
• Are they the spokesperson for their home party in the EP? Visit the EP website or MEP websites. MEPs either have their own sites, or home party sites. Search on www.google.com for each MEP by name.
• Which constituency does the MEP represent? Having a local connection with an MEP gives you the advantage of knowing what the MEP’s interests are.
Contacting the Mep - Enquiries are dealt with in Brussels
or in the home country of the MEP, so you can contact an MEP at either office.
Some MEPs have a preference, however, so phoning the home office to ask an
MEP’s assistant how best to proceed may help. The kind of contact MEPs are most
likely to respond to is a personal letter or e-mail. This needs to be signed,
(or contain the constituent name and address), be easy to read, and explain in
a few sentences your reasons for contacting the MEP and what your main
arguments on the issue are.
Meeting the Mep -
MEPs spend some time in Brussels, Strasbourg and their constituency office, so you can arrange to meet them in Belgium, France or their home country. The meeting should be well prepared for: it is important to express your concerns clearly. Prepare a short speech of approximately 10 minutes, and write your arguments in a position paper to leave with the MEP. If you see the MEP together with other people, make sure your position is clear and that no contradictions confuse the issue.
Targeting the Rapporteur -
If your local MEP is not involved in the issue of your concern, you need to contact the “rapporteur”, (designated MEP), who is in charge of preparing the committee´s report on the relevant legislative proposal. Find an MEP who is on the committee you are interested in and ring them to ask who the rapporteur is. If you don’t speak a common language with the rapporteur, lobbying will be more difficult and you may need to contact your home country MEP on the Committee, and work through them. Once you know who the rapporteur is, a letter campaign directed at them, whatever their native language, still highlights the issue.
Once you have sent a letter or e-mail, you need to follow up by phoning the MEP some time later, to reemphasise your points.
MEP Viewpoint: Karl-Heinz Florenz
MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz, Christian Democrat and Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, comments on lobbying in the EP.
“For the lobbying industry in general, a code of behaviour would be a good idea. There are so many different groups of lobbyists, for associations, regions, NGOs etc. But, of course – like anywhere – there are good ones and bad ones. It is definitely an advantage to MEPs having so many lobbyists in Brussels. We can’t know everything, so a good lobbyist can provide us with thorough input and background knowledge on certain problems and subjects. The only question is the quality. A good lobbyist has targeted information, gives practical solutions, doesn’t waste time, makes timely interventions, provides balanced views, and reacts to requests. It’s very important that the lobbyist can make a focused and objective presentation.”