European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

Whom Should I Lobby?

One of the keys in lobbying is to address your message to the right person at the right time. Many different actors may be involved in the process, from policy development to drafting the legislation to final approval and implementation. The aim is not to ´talk to all the people all of the time´, but rather to focus on the relevant persons or organisations at each stage, with a relevant message tailored to their purpose.

At the early stages, you may wish to focus more on the policy developers. These will probably be the civil servants in the European Commission. The various departments (Directorates-General) responsible for individual policy areas work on new policy areas as well as overseeing the implementation of existing legislation. Any areas of immediate concern may well be resolved by the civil servants concerned. In many cases, new policies will be circulated for consultation. Having your input at this stage, with clear indication of concerns, will ensure your views are considered by the civil servants.

Once a policy has been developed and approved, it will then be up to the European Parliament and European Council to adopt this as a piece of EU legislation. Here again, you need to find out what stage the process has reached, and who are the key decision makers. The committee stage in the European Parliament, and the group meetings in Council will be the most effective stages for influencing developments.

In the Parliament, you may wish to contact your local Member of the European Parliament (MEP). MEPs take account of feedback they receive on specific pieces of legislation. If they are not personally involved in the committee discussions, they will forward your input to a more relevant colleague. You may also want to write to any MEP you know has a particular interest in your area of concern. Remember though, the more focused your message, the easier it will be for MEPs to take it into account.

In the Council, you may find it most effective to speak with your own responsible Ministry officials who can integrate your views into the Council discussions. National Ministry officials may find practical inputs helpful in guiding their discussions with their national or EU counterparts.

If you have the resources, you may also want to bring your concerns to the attention of the Brussels-based national Representation to the EU. The UK Representation to the EU is UK national civil servants based in Brussels, who have a responsibility to follow EU activities on a day to day basis and serve as an intermediary between representative of national Ministries.

They are in fact the individuals who carry out much of the day to day coordination and negotiation with the other 24 EU Member States.

Once a law has been approved at EU level, it will normally be up to the individual Member States to implement. At this stage, you should focus on the appropriate Ministry or Agency in charge in your own country. EU legislation normally has considerable leeway in implementation to adapt to local situations. Make use of this by ensuring your national politicians and civil servants know what impact the legislation will have on your organisation.

Above all, remember that clear messages and timely input can have a significant impact on the development of new legislation. EU officials are known to be relatively open to input from a broad range of organisations, from the smallest to the largest. Do not be afraid to make your voice heard.

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