Opinion Leaders Favor Lobbying, But Express Transparency Concerns
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Opinion Leaders Favor Lobbying, But Express Transparency Concerns

Across Europe, 48 percent of political elites believe that lobbying makes a positive contribution to the democratic process. This percentage was considerably higher in countries like Hungary and Italy where 67 percent of respondents felt that lobbying has a positive.

Paul Holmes

Across Europe, 48 percent of political elites believe that lobbying makes a positive contribution to the democratic process. This percentage was considerably higher in countries like Hungary and Italy where 67 percent of respondents felt that lobbying has a positive. However, in Poland just 3 percent of elites feel that lobbying has a positive impact on democracy.

 

The survey was conducted by Burson-Marsteller across 15 European countries and the Brussels policy community. The study found wide variations in different countries in the way European political elites view and accept lobbying as a part of the governmental decision-making process.

“The tremendous variation in the way the political class of different European countries view lobbying has clear implications for the way lobbyists need to operate in these countries,” says Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller EMEA. “This survey increases our knowledge of effective lobbying techniques and provides a useful guide to the perceptions of politicians and officials in Europe. The report also underscores the need for lobbyists to be transparent.”

Transparency is also a major theme of the survey. Almost two-third (64 percent) of all respondents across Europe believe that lobbyists must clearly identify themselves and their interest in any lobby group (industry or NGO) is a pre-requisite by a majority of national and EU-level regulators a declaration of interest to meet with the lobby. However, there was again differing results from country-to-country.

In Spain only 26 percent of respondents thought transparency a pre-requisite compared to 83 percent in Greece.

The findings also point to a much greater effectiveness on the part of industry when compared to NGO lobbying in all industry sectors with the exception of consumer goods, food & drink where both are equally effective. Trade associations come out as the most effective lobbying group, followed by trade unions and companies. NGOS follow in fourth place just ahead of public affairs consultancies.

Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for Administration, Audit & Anti-Fraud, adds: “This report gives lobbyists an insight into what techniques and channels are most effective: it shows that public officials are more likely to listen to transparent lobbyists with a targeted message in their field of interest. That reassures me, and should reassure the public." Commissioner Kallas contributed the foreword to the survey.

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