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Keys to Successful and Responsible Lobbying

Plenary / Panel
in englischer Sprache


Deputy Head, Cabinet Vice-President Maros Sef ov, European Commission, Brussels Abstract Key Note
The European Union's activities today affect millions of European citizens' lives and companies. The European Commission is committed to a very high degree of accountability and transparency when taking its decisions.
The wide consultation of citizens and interest representatives is an important element of the European Commission's decision-making process. It provides the institutional ground for so-called "lobbying", but also sets the limits by imposing specific responsibilities: on citizens, on interest representatives and on the institutions themselves.
The keynote will put the focus on the "transparency initiative" of the European Commission, which provides the framework for successful and responsible "lobbying" in the EU, mentioning among others the European Commission's consultation possibilities, access to information and ethical rules.
Representative for EU Affairs, CNC - Communications & Network Consulting AG, Brussels Abstract Key Note
While over the last 40 years many of the relevant parameters for interest representation at EU level have changed, some key rules remain valid. Hence it is important to observe the latter, often different from key rules for lobbying in a national environment. However, it is equally important to recognize that  at least presently  networking with EU institutions (notably Commission officials and Members of the European Parliament) is not enough. Shifts in political weight and institutional changes like  Comitology make it increasingly imperative to work with national and EU authorities in parallel. While 20 to 10 years ago industry lobbyists expected lobbying to become more media-oriented and less fact-based (to become more  americanised ), it is the increasingly decentralized decision making process in the EU that renders interest representation more complicated and expensive. And the influence of social media is the next chapter to deal with.
Professor of Economics and Econometrics, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research, University of St.Gallen Abstract Key Note
Lobbying is just one kind of activity economic agents use to have an impact on political decisions. Others such activities are relying on ‘old boy’s club networks’, corruption or extortion. The boundaries of these different activities are fluent. Responsible lobbying can be seen as an attempt to gain political influence without crossing the border to not only illegal but also illegitimate activities.
In a democracy, it is completely acceptable that citizens with common interests form ‘special interests groups’ with the purpose of gaining influence on political decisions. The main medium used is information: information generated by the interest group and provided to politicians of the public bureaucracy. The latter is partly even depending on such information. The problem is that such information will usually be one-sided. Thus, responsible politics based on such information will hardly be possible if there is no competition between groups with different interests with respect to the same political area as, for example, employer organisations on the one and trade unions on the other side or, to take another example, international mineral oil corporations on the one and NGOs pursuing environmental interest on the other side.
From an economic perspective, the effects of these legal kinds of lobbying are ambivalent. Information provided by interest groups can, on the one hand, help to improve political decisions. On the other side, from a social point of view, many of these activities are unproductive. If interest groups fight each other, the final political decision might, for example, be the same as without any lobbying, but the resources expended for this lobbying are wasted: the time and money spent could have been used for the production of goods or services. In the economic literature, this phenomenon is called ‘rent seeking’: Economic agents can improve their situation by producing goods and services for the market, but also by convincing the government to provide them with special conditions which create rents that could not be generated on the market. This leads partly to a redistribution of income in favour of the lobbying groups at the expense of the general public, but is partly also simply wasted money. In extreme cases, hardly anything of the resources involved in these activities is left for redistribution: nearly all is wasted.
On the other hand: interest groups are often in a prisoner’s dilemma situation. While knowing that their impact can be counterbalanced by opposing interest groups, they have no alternative to participating in this game in order to pursue their interests and not to fall behind others. Thus, some waste seems to be unavoidable, at least in a democracy. (These ‘costs of democracy’ are, of course, largely outweighed by the gains of democracy.)
A well-known problem is that not all interests have the same chance to be represented in the interest-group game. Interests of small specific groups can be better organised than those of large general interests. Consumer interests are, for example, much less represented in Brussels than producer interests. This has to be taken into account in the political process. The ‘Verbandsbeschwerderecht’ is, for example, an institution to give nature and environment a voice to balance pure economic interests.
An important question is which role money plays in the lobbying process. Money cannot only be used to provide information, but also to provide favours to politicians and/or bureaucrats. Without paying them directly, this might range from small gifts or paying for common meals up to financing expensive holydays. This is one of the slippery slopes between lobbying and corruption. There is a similar problem with respect to financing political parties and/or political action groups. Usually, I will only pay for the election campaign of a candidate if his/her expected policy is more to my advantage than the one of his/her competitor. As long as this is the only reason for subsidising somebody, there is no problem. However, as soon as my money has an impact on the candidate’s future policy, it becomes corruption. It is often quite difficult to establish whether corruption is involved in such situations or not. This holds in particular for countries where political parties and candidates are not obliged to disclose their (major) financiers.
Finally, there can also be a slippery slope between lobbying and extortion. Political strikes might be an extreme case, but there are milder measures as well, whenever interest groups (or single firms) agree to refrain from some measures as long as the government pursues a specific policy.
Thus, while lobbying is on the one hand side not only a right citizens have in a democracy and also a possible mean to improve political decisions, it might also lead to rent seeking, and there are slippery slopes in the direction of corruption and/or extortion. Responsible lobbying will be aware of these problems and try to pursue own interests without resorting to these dark areas.
Former Head, EU-Office of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Brussels Chair


Deputy Head, Cabinet Vice-President Maros Sef ov, European Commission, Brussels

1990-1992 Diploma in English Law (with distinction), Law School, University of Trier, Germany
1992-1995 First State Exam (with distinction) Concentration on European Law , Law School, University of Freiburg, Germany
1992-1995 Junior Assistant, Institute for Constitutional and Administrative Law, University of Freiburg, Germany
1995-1997 Doctoral thesis in European Law (magna cum laude)
1995-1997 Senior Assistant, Institute for European Law, University of Freiburg, Germany
1997-2000 Junior Lawyer, Ministry of Justice, State of Hamburg, Germany; Bar Exam (with distinction)
1998 Visiting Lecturer of EC Law, Faculty for International Relations, University of Banská Bystrica, Slovak Republic
  Enlargement, Dir. B.3., European Commission, Brussels, Belgium
2000-2003 Desk Officer, responsible for the co-ordination of accession negotiations with the Slovak Republic, Directorate-General
  Neighbourhood Policy European Commission, Brussels, Belgium
2003-2004 Task Manager, responsible for Education, Culture, Science and Research, Justice and Home Affairs, Task Force European
  United Nations, Cyprus (secondment)
2004 Member of the negotiation team for the reunification of Cyprus, responsible for European Community law aspects,
  affairs, Cabinet of Commissioner Ján Figel , European Commission, Brussels, Belgium
2004-2010 Member of Cabinet, responsible for culture, sport and citizenship policy, competition, internal market and justice and home
since 2010 Deputy Head of Cabinet, Cabinet of Vice-President Maros Sef ovi , European Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Dr. Hanns R. GLATZ

Representative for EU Affairs, CNC - Communications & Network Consulting AG, Brussels

 Studied law, politics and economics, University of Vienna
 Doctor of laws, University of Vienna
 MA European Studies, College of Europe in Bruges
1968 Private Office, Austrian Minister of Agriculture, Vienna
1970 Ford Europe, Governmental Affairs Office, Brussels
1979 Secretary General of the CLCA, the EU federation of national motor vehicle manufacturers associations, Brussels
1989-2009 Head, Corporate Representative Office for European Affairs, Daimler-Benz (now Daimler AG), Brussels
since 2010 Head of Brussels Office, CNC - Communications & Network Consulting AG, International

Dr. Dr.h.c. Gebhard KIRCHGÄSSNER

Professor of Economics and Econometrics, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research, University of St.Gallen

1976-1977 Wissenschaftlicher Assistent, Universität Konstanz
1977-1984 Oberassistent, Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung der Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule Zürich
1984-1992 Professor (C4) für Volkswirtschaftslehre/Finanzwissenschaft, Universität Osnabrück
1997-2004 Präsident der Forschungskommission der Universität St. Gallen
1998 Gastprofessor, Max-Planck-Projektgruppe "Recht der Gemeinschaftsgüter", Bonn
1999-2001 Vorstand (Dekan) der Volkswirtschaftlichen Abteilung der Universität St. Gallen
1997-2003 Mitglied der Kommission für Konjunkturfragen
1998-2000 Präsident des Advisory Board Steuerpolitik beim Eidgenössischen Finanzdepartement
2004-2007 Präsident der Kommission für Konjunkturfragen
2007-2011 Präsident der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Volkswirtschaft und Statistik

Mag. Barbara SCHENNACH

Former Head, EU-Office of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Brussels

  und Handelspolitik
1998 Eintritt in das EU-Traineeprogramm der Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, Wirtschaftspolitische Abteilung, Abt. für Integrations-
2000 Entsendung an das EU-Büro der Wirtschaftskammer Österreich in Brüssel
2002 Leitung, EU-Büro des Österreichischen Sparkassenverbandes, Brüssel
2003 Stellvertretende Leiterin, EU-Büro der Wirtschaftskammer Österreich
seit 2005 Leiterin, EU-Büro der Wirtschaftskammer Österreich