Editorial: Lobbyists pay the price for EC fiasco

The resignation of the European Commission executive this week is likely to make a profound difference to the way the lobbying and PR industry works in Brussels. The auditor’s report suggested that much of the fraud and mismanagement within the commission was to be found in its relationship with outside contractors.

The resignation of the European Commission executive this week is

likely to make a profound difference to the way the lobbying and PR

industry works in Brussels. The auditor’s report suggested that much of

the fraud and mismanagement within the commission was to be found in its

relationship with outside contractors.



There may, as a result, be a tightening of the already complex rules

governing the commission’s relationship with contractors. Although they

are above suspicion, PR agencies which have built businesses on

undertaking large pieces of work for the commission, will be subject to

the same tightening of the rules as other less honest contractors.

Another layer of red tape may discourage agencies from tendering for

commission work altogether.



Lobbyists work will be affected by a shift of power between the

parliament and the commission. The European Commission’s credibility has

been deeply damaged by the protracted battle for survival of its

executive. The executive’s delay in taking action bore out the very

criticisms contained in the auditor’s report published on Monday. The

report accused the commission of indiscipline, negligence and lack of

accountability.



The European Parliament has held considerable powers over the commission

for some years now, but it has not truly flexed its muscles until this

episode. And with the commission’s credibility so damaged, the

parliament will have to continue to show the leadership that will be

lacking at the commission in the coming months.



Traditionally the commission has been the most important policy-making

body. Once drawn up by the commission, directives have undergone, for

the most part, only minor changes in the parliament. Lobbyists will now

need to warn their clients that the parliament may choose to demonstrate

its authority by rewriting those directives.



Any changes in Brussels are going to affect London lobbying teams

too.



The number of companies retaining agencies to handle their public

affairs across more than one country is increasing. Witness APCO’s

appointment this week by direct-selling firm Amway in the UK, Brussels,

France and the Netherlands. In multi-country campaigns like these,

messages being transmitted from Westminster have to chime with those

being put out in Brussels.With a less predictable parliament, UK

businesses will need to monitor events in Brussels more closely, and

co-ordinate multi-country campaigns accordingly.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in