|How advocacy and lobbying happen at EU level - 1. Know your target|
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1. Know your targetThe main institutional actors to lobby on European issues are: the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council, the Economic and Social Committee, National Permanent Representations in Brussels and National Governments.
This is the key target of influence because it initiates legislation. The Treaty of Lisbon envisages that the Commission should consult widely but no system of accreditation for Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) is foreseen as it is the case in other international organisations like the Council of Europe or the UN.
For the moment, there are three forms of consultation used by the European Commission:
The Commission has adopted “General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties”. For more information.
The European Parliament
If the NGOs are not satisfied with the EC's legislative proposal, they can lobby Members of the European Parliament for amendments to the text. This is a key task for Culture Action Europe, especially since the Parliament’s role has increased over the recent years in parallel to the increase of its competencies (in adopting legislation; monitoring the activities of the Commission and deciding the budget).
European Parliament website
The European Council
This body is considered to be the most non-transparent of all decision-makers and the most difficult to lobby from Brussels because its members can be effectively influenced only at national level. That requires having effective partners nationally that are committed and skillful enough to transfer the policy agenda to the national decision-makers. Thus, as Culture Action Europe always maintains, the national governments remain very important in terms of political communication in Europe.
European Council website
The Presidency of the EU
It is also very important to lobby the rotating presidency on specific key issues, if the country holding the Presidency for six months is willing to take it on board and make it one of its priorities. To do so, you need to talk to national contacts, at early as a year before the Presidency starts. Note that some organisations (e.g. Amnesty International and the larger NGOs) submit papers to the Presidency stating what their policy or legislative expectations are from it.
List of Presidencies on the European Council website
The Permanent Representations to the EU
These are very useful information and contact channels. Culture Action Europe does not have close contacts with all 27 Perm Reps but is of course eager and willing to pursue specific contacts on the basis of members’ interests and networks.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
The EESC works with the NGO networks and it is useful in terms of information and contacts. A Liaison group has been established between the Committee and the Brussels based platforms as a structure for political dialogue on different initiatives of common interest. Culture Action Europe is a member of this Liaison group. However, note that some civil society platforms are strongly questioning the representativeness of the EESC in terms of civil society participation.
The EESC website