European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

How Do I Lobby Effectively?

Effective lobbying at its most basic can be reduced to three simple rules:

  • know what you want to say
  • say it to the right people
  • deliver your message at the right time

The main aim should be to identify those issues which will have the most important impact on your organisation, to identify how they will impact on your organisation, and to explain this clearly to the legislators.

First and foremost, you need to be prepared, know your subject area and know exactly what it is you want to change. Establish your goals • do you want to seek a minor amendment to a proposal, or do you want to see a piece of legislation removed completely from the process?

If you can, reduce your message down to some very specific key points in the legislation. In general, once the proposal is past the policy making stage and has reached the European Parliament and Council for decision making, you are looking at influencing an existing proposal, rather than creating something new. What are the specific points of the Commission´s proposal which you wish to see modified, how and why?

Getting your message across does not have to be a long and complicated process. At the most basic level, a simple letter outlining your concerns sent to the appropriate person at the right time may be have the required impact.

In this case, bear in mind that others will not be as familiar with your area of work as you are. Many may never have had any direct experience of the issues you face. They need to understand clear arguments as to why the proposal will have an effect. Concrete examples and numbers will help get your message across.

Get to know the general atmosphere within which you will be working. Are you likely to face much opposition, and if so, who will be your main opponents ? Put your concerns into context and remember that any legislator in any country has to balance the views of many different organisations. If you know that your views will be directly opposed by other organisations, outline how you see the impact of other options.

Working in coalitions is often a very effective approach. The coalitions may be formed of surprising components, don´t assume from the outset that you will always work with the same groups. Road safety issues may bring together the usual cycling groups, car safety groups and parents groups. However, you might also consider school associations, police groups, health groups concerned with children´s exercise levels or even other national associations concerned with child safety. By pushing safety issues up the policy agenda, you may be helping them to draw attention to their own concerns about safety. Think broadly about possible partners, but also weight up the ability and commitment of these organisations to contribute to your agenda.

Effective lobbying does not necessarily require huge resources and input. A well thought out campaign and clear messages can achieve just as much, if not more.

Renia Coghlan is a professional lobbyist with 10 years experience in lobbying and advocacy in EU affairs. She has been based in London, Brussels and Geneva.
For further information, you can contact her at