Bad management and squabbling lobbyists

7 August 2008

Bad management and squabbling lobbyists

More than 15.000 lobbyists are active in Brussels, lobbying the EU institutions for corporations or for interest groups. More and more you come across lobbyists in Brussels, also, from national institutions, and from regions and cities. The Dutch national parliament has a permanent lobby in Brussels. Every one of the Netherlands' Provinces – the country's administrative regions – employs lobbyists there, as do cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Also Arnhem and Nijmegen. And the towns of Twente, of South Limburg. Of Brabant.

by Ronald van Raak

Ronald van RaakLobbyists from Eindhoven, Tilburg, Breda, Den Bosch and Helmond have a common office known as BrabantStad (Stad being Dutch for 'town'). They are likely to be lobbying alongside lobbyists from the Province of North Brabant, but these are organised in their own lobby club, the House of the Provinces. The Brabant towns would like to join Eurocities, a lobbying union of major European cities, but this clashes with the lobbying interests of the Province.

All these lobbyists have their eye on the same subsidies. And all of these regional and local lobbyists get under the feet of the national representatives. When the Ministry of Finance proposed that EU subsidies for regional development should go primarily to the poorest member states, regional lobbyists came up with a crisis scenario to show that they should carry on getting such subsidies.

The Dutch people elect their representatives to the national parliament, the Provincial assemblies and to town and city councils. These politicians should together take care of the interests of their citizens in Europe. Unfortunately, this is not the case. National, provincial and local administrations all have their own squabbling lobbyists. This leads to bad – and expensive – management.

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