to Content
Header Image

Networking and Lobbying seen from the recipients’ side

Plenary / Panel
english language


Leiterin, Referat Durchsetzung und Verfahrensreform, GD Wettbewerb, Europäische Kommission, Brüssel Abstract
The Commission is a constant  target of lobbying activities of all sorts, from all sources and at all levels. But this natural phenomenon is tainted by a widespread misperception:
- The Commission is perceived as an opaque, inaccessible and faceless bureaucratic machine, the only  defence against which would consist in systematically (and exclusively) targeting the  highest political level.
- But in fact, the Commission is open, accessible  and grateful for information and insights it may only obtain through direct interaction with stakeholders. Lobbying and networking therefore pays off  if pursued an appropriate manner.
This contribution will analyse the main factors (timeliness, tone, content, frequency) which determine the success or failure of lobbying the Commission, with particular emphasis on Commissioners/Cabinets. In this panellist s view, the most promising lobbying strategy may be summarised as follows:
- Investing in regular, solid working relations at all levels is the single most important success factor. Single-issue, last-minute,  high-level -only interventions usually fail.
- Approaching the Commission as a partner (sharing information, discussing issues of common concern) builds trust, to be drawn on in case of need. Servility is as counter-productive as arrogance; incomplete or misleading information usually backfires; and do not blackmail  it may work once, but will be remembered for long.
- Commissioners/Cabinets  and the services! - have little time. The very first contact will therefore determine the course of the relationship. And if this goes awkward, there may not be a  second chance .
Administrator, Council of the European Union, Directorate General B, Brussels Abstract
Lobbying in the Council might be considered more difficult than in the other institutions, as there are several layers of decision-making involved. Timing is crucial.
Getting facts and figures into play is most likely to be achieved at technical level, i.e. Working Group level: these are the technical experts from the 27 Member States who are convoked to Brussels by the Presidency to study a specific Commission proposal. The best time to give input will usually be the phase when instructions are drafted in the various capitals - so effective lobbying in the Council will typically start outside Brussels. In addition, the competent attachés in the Permanent Representations of Member States in Brussels might be valuable contact partners.
Once a proposal goes up to the Permanent Representatives' Committee (COREPER) before passing to the Ministers, many of the issues are already "preset" at technical level. At this stage, the discussions get more political and are centered on fewer topics.
Another way of influencing discussions in the Council might be to lobby in the European Parliament: virtually all legislation with a direct effect on economic operators and consumers is subject to the co-decision procedure where the E.P. has got genuine veto rights. Strong E.P. positions will therefore automatically be considered in Council negotiation packages. About two thirds of co-decision files are finalised at first reading nowadays, which means that also E.P. lobbying must start early (i.e. at Committee level).
The Council website provides help in timing by giving an overview of agendas of Council meetings, COREPER agendas and Working Groups. Longer-term planning can be done on the basis of the multi-annual programme and the Presidency programmes which contain time-tables of future meetings. The public register of Council documents can help understand the current state of play of discussions on specific proposals.
Advisor, Directorate General Communication, European Commission, Brussels Chair

Mag. Barbara BRANDTNER

Leiterin, Referat Durchsetzung und Verfahrensreform, GD Wettbewerb, Europäische Kommission, Brüssel

 Studied Law at the University of Vienna, the College of Europe (Bruges, Belgium) and the University of Michigan Law School (LLM 1992).
1993-1995 Associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP, Brussels
since 1996 European Commission at the Legal Service
2002-2004 Member of the Cabinet of the Hon. Chris Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations
2004-2008 Member, then Deputy Head of Cabinet of Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition
since 2008 Head of Unit "Enforcement and Procedural Reform" in DG Competition (COMP.H.4)


Administrator, Council of the European Union, Directorate General B, Brussels

1985 Magister et Doctor iuris, University of Vienna, Law Faculty
1985 Post-graduate diploma, Inter-disciplinary course for International Studies, University of Vienna
1987 Post-graduate diploma, Diplomatic Academy, Vienna
1979-1980 Military Service
1982-1983 Creditanstalt-Bankverein, Vienna, Foreign Exchange Department
1987-1991 Federation of Austrian Industry, Vienna, Department for International Trade and Monetary Policy
  Head of the Brussels Office of the Federation of Austrian Industry
1991-1993 Austrian Mission to the European Communities, Brussels, Secretary for Industrial Affairs,
  Department for European Integration and International Economic Relations
 Since 1996 Council of the European Union, Brussels; currently: Directorate General B (Food Safety);
  before: Directorate General F (Codecision procedure)
1993-1996 Federation of Austrian Industry, Vienna, Director,
  (detached by the Council General Secretariat)
2004-2006 European Economic and Social Committee, Brussels, Head of Cabinet of the President
since 2006 Administrator at the Council of the European Union, Directorate General B

Dipl.-Ing. Karl Georg DOUTLIK

Advisor, Directorate General Communication, European Commission, Brussels

1964-1970 Universität für Bodenkultur, Vienna (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences)
1970-1972 Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. USA, Master of Science
  disposal, Project engineer
1972 G. Edwin Pidcock Consulting Engineers, Allentown, Pa. USA, Environmental technology, water supply, waste water
  Manager for Technical Development, Sales Manager, Division Manager
1973-1992 ETERNIT-Werke L. Hatschek AG, Wiener Neudorf, Pipe systems for Water supply and Wastewater Disposal,
  General Manager
1993-1997 ETERNIT Tiefbau GmbH, Wiener Neudorf, Pipe systems for water supply and waste water disposal,
  Elaboration of enterprise aspects regarding sustainable development and environment policy
1998-2000 European Commission, Brussels, DG Enterprise Head of Unit for "Environmental aspects of enterprise policy",
  Project management in the framework of perennial programs and entrepreneurial initiative, pertinent political
2000-2002 European Commission, Brussels, DG Enterprise Head of Unit for "Improving framework conditions for SMEs",
  in Austria, Information brokering and commentatorship
2002-2008 European Commission, Vienna, DG Communication, Head of the representation of the European Commission