170519 - Lobbying and Diplomacy in/of the EU: Two Faces of the Same Coin?

19 Mai, 2017 - 09:45 - 17:45



Friday 19 May 2017, 10 am - 5.15 pm, Sciences Po, Room Goguel, 56 rue des Saints-Pères (Entrance through 27 rue Saint-Guillaume), 75007 Paris

Lobbying and diplomacy are activities aimed at representing certain interests in front of the decision-makers and the public of a political system (Kerr 2010; Rowe 2011); at informing policy-makers and the public about certain policies, specific viewpoints, etc. (Melissen 2013; Rowe 2011); at communicating these issues via formal and informal channels (Kerr 2010; Stavridis and Jančić 2016); at influencing the formulation and implementation of policies (Rowe 2011; Tidwell 2016); and at building relationships (Rowe 2011). Moreover, both rest on persuasion (Kerr 2010), as diplomats and lobbyists have to convince their counterparts of the importance of their perspective, information and interests.

Yet, diplomacy has long been portrayed as the prerogative of states (and its representatives), engaged in the management of international relations by negotiation and in a peaceful manner (Melissen 2005; Hochstetler 2013). In contrast, lobbying is normally associated with the actions of interest groups, who target policy-makers with a view to influencing policy outcomes and bringing them close to their interests and goals. In recent years, however, the exclusivity of diplomacy as a state domain has been challenged on several fronts: the range of issues has expanded well beyond the immediate military and political dimensions of traditional diplomacy (e.g. environmental diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, etc.); new actors have become to be involved in global governance and active in diplomatic activities; public diplomacy, i.e., the engagement with foreign publics, has acquired a prominent role in the diplomatic efforts of many countries. Similarly, there are many non-state actors who lobby (officially or not) on behalf of a state. This happens either because states have outsourced part of their diplomatic activities by hiring consultancy firms (e.g., APCO, Burson-Marsteller) to promote their interests within the EU (Corporate Europe Observatory 2010; Corporate Europe Observatory 2015; Newhouse 2009), or because the same non-state actors make the defence of the interests of a third country a central part of their mandate, such as AIPAC in the US (Mearsheimer and Walt 2006). It thus becomes difficult to clearly distinguish when these non-state actors speak on their behalf or act in cooperation with or as coopted forces for a third country (Hägel and Peretz 2005; Koinova 2012).

The boundaries between lobbying and diplomacy are thus not always clear-cut and can be extremely permeable. If this is the case, are these activities faces of the same coin? How can we conceptually and analytically distinguish between lobbying and diplomacy in/of the EU? What makes the practice of lobbying different from the practice of diplomacy? Are lobbying and diplomacy performed differently at the national and European levels? If so, how? Are different typologies of actors involved in different forms of diplomacy and lobbying? Put differently, can we identify different types of actors that perform lobbying and diplomacy differently?

By fostering a dialogue between scholars working on diplomacy and lobbying,  two communities of scholars that have rarely crossed their mutual expertise, this workshop aims to open up a discussion about the role that lobbying and diplomacy play nowadays. The workshop thus investigates what makes lobbying and diplomacy similar and, at the same time, different, and how we can learn from the concepts and tools of these subareas in advancing our knowledge of the EU’s multilevel political system as an arena where lobbying and diplomacy occur as well as an actor that practices both lobbying and diplomatic activities.

The workshop focuses on the European Union (EU), which is considered as a privileged case to study these two phenomena, as it has become one of the main arenas of lobbying activities, a very active actor on the diplomatic stage and a site where diplomacy is performed on a daily basis. On the one hand, member states are active in their diplomatic efforts in Brussels, when they negotiate within the EU. On the other hand, the EU is also an active diplomatic actors on the international stage, whose role has been strengthened by the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and its delegations around the world. Similarly, the European Parliament has been playing a diplomatic role over the past years. In addition, the multilevel nature of the EU is particularly interesting to analyse possible differences among the lobbying and diplomatic practices that are performed at the European or national levels. 


(Download the programme, PDF, 148 Ko)

List of abstract

Why do countries rely on lobbyists to shape EU foreign policy? - Albi Alla

Most countries carry out their diplomatic work thru their respective embassies and missions in Brussels. They rely on formal structures and bureaucratic procedures commonly associated with state-run diplomacy (Henrikson, 2006). Some countries may also rely on ‘diplomatic lobbying’ as a tool of political engagement (Tidwell, 2016). For example, the United States Mission to the European Union has an effective in-house lobbying capacity. While this is uncommon, many countries have started outsourcing their work to private lobbying firms. Foreign representation has become part of the system in Brussels. Data from the EU Transparency Register shows that some 40 countries have turned to private firms to protect and promote their foreign policy goals in Brussels. Yet lobbying in EU foreign affairs is a vastly understudied phenomenon. By examining data from the EU Transparency Register, this paper will show the extent to which countries are relying on private lobbying to shape EU foreign policy. In addition, there has also been little academic research to examine why countries turn to lobbyist in the first place. This paper will examine whether countries hire lobbyists in the same logic as companies. Moloney and Grant (1996) looked at the reasons why firms hire lobbyists. They conclude that access, representation, lack of resources and expertise trigger the decision to hire. Principal-agent theory (Kassim and Menon, 2003) suggest that delegation takes place to ensure expertise, credible commitments, efficiency & effectiveness and escape blame. Finally, through the case studies it will also shed light on the relationship between embassies/missions and their lobbyist. It will assess lobbyist’s tactics and strategies. And how lobbyists and diplomats work together in terms of identifying topics, splitting tasks, constructing the message and approaching targets while trying to achieve their common goals. 

The transatlantic civil society dialogues: a hybrid form of diplomacy and lobbying? - Emmanuelle Blanc

In its dealings the United States, the European Union has set up a remarkable diplomatic system where governmental, parliamentarian and private (non-governmental) actors interact in condition of complex interdependencies. In such a multi-levelled form of governance, the lines between diplomacy and lobbying have been blurred, as exemplified by the civil society dialogues – such as the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) and the Transatlantic Consumers Dialogue (TABC). Both dialogues are composed of European and American non-governmental actors – respectively business and consumers’ groups – sponsored by the EU and US government to give input into the transatlantic policy-making. Due to their transatlantic nature and specific mission, it has been difficult to precisely define their “essence” as actors: to what extent do they correspond to traditional lobby groups? Should they rather be considered as the new actors of the so-called “commercial diplomacy”? To shed light on this question, the paper proposes to explore the micro-practices of communication and negotiation of these actors – both among themselves and vis-à-vis the EU and US governmental representatives. The paper first provides a short background on the creation of these dialogues before exploring the “diplomatic practices” that characterize their daily interactions and the “lobbying practices” performed in the dialogue vis-à-vis the decision-makers. Through the conduct of interviews with the relevant actors across the Pond, this paper brings original data, contributing to the on-going debate about what makes the practice of lobbying different from the practice of diplomacy. 

EU-Canada Strategic Partnership and CETA: The Tale of Legislative Trade Diplomacy - Davor Jancic

This paper analyses the manner in which the EU and Canadian parliaments shape their involvement in the bilateral strategic partnership. The analysis examines the respective constitutional frameworks for international parliamentary action in general and EU-Canada legislative cooperation in particular. After examining the legislatures’ powers concerning the conclusion of international agreements, the paper assesses the mechanisms for political dialogue and consultation that are foreseen in the Strategic Partnership Agreement and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). Furthermore, the paper seeks insight into the political practice of parliamentary scrutiny of CETA in order to determine the manner and level of parliamentary involvement in matters of the strategic partnership. The article inquires whether the parliaments’ approach to foreign and trade policy making is determined by the nature of their constitutional powers in the international sphere and whether parliamentary diplomacy, in the form of transnational interparliamentary dialogue, is a desirable and viable tool for overseeing and counterbalancing intergovernmental diplomacy. 

Between diplomacy and lobbying: the case of Russia-EU relations - Pavel Kanevskiy

For the last two decades Russia and the EU became interdependent in many areas, trade grew, flow of people and services intensified, Russian economic interests became widely represented in the EU member states, while European businesses integrated deeply into the Russian economy. Diplomacy is just one channel among others used to maintain these interdependencies. Russian interest groups have been constantly learning how European policymaking works, using lobbying as an instrument of direct and indirect influence. Meanwhile, European interest groups got used to deal with Russian highly centralized system where government plays a key role in formulating its domestic and foreign policies. Fusion of business and government often makes it difficult for Russian interest groups, foremost business, to exercise influence abroad independently and for European interest groups operating in Russia to understand what are the right access points, but it’s evident that diplomacy and lobbying are highly intertwined. Russian economic model, which almost totally relies on commodities exports, leads to creation of “state - big business” coalition. Its lobbying efforts, mostly carried through GR offices, advisory boards and separate entrepreneurs, are predominantly aimed at two major policy areas: energy and sanctions. Russia’s foreign lobbying creates a second layer of its relations with the EU and whereas diplomacy and other ways of finding common grounds fail, lobbying, despite its controversies, helps to preserve Russian official and private interests. However, this system has a limited potential, because it remains elitist and doesn’t promote deeper integration. 

The European Parliament as an actor in (Inter)parliamentary Diplomacy - Zlatko Sabic

The European Union (EU) has always been seen as a champion of economic integration, and a laggard in political integration. Nowadays, with Europe facing an increasing political and moral crisis, such state of affairs can be seen at the parliamentary level, too. This has a considerable effect on (inter)parliamentary diplomacy. National parliaments of EU member states would not at all hesitate in advocating national interests instead of searching for European solutions. On the other hand, the European Parliament’s (EP) mandate is to act on behalf the EU as a political actor, to advocate EU’s norms and values, and defend European solutions to international and global problems. In this regard, the EP, as an actor in (inter)parliamentary diplomacy has an important advantage over national parliaments. As the public becomes more aware of the extent of the global problems, it will increasingly demand efficient solutions from their governments and parliamentarians. However, domestic demands seriously limit the manoeuvring space for national parliamentarians to look for consensual solutions at (sub)regional level. On the other hand, the EP has more freedom to act independently. At least in theory it can more easily engage in interparliamentary diplomacy; it can participate in international forums, communicate with other parliamentarians and international parliamentary institutions, and accumulate experience and knowledge. This in turn can inform its work at the EU level, and possibly influence public perceptions at the national level. By looking at selected case studies, the present contribution will make an assessment about the extent to which the EP might make use of its unique position to affirm its role in international affairs.  

Diplomats and lobbyists in EU foreign policy-making: overlapping, competing or cooperative practices? - Benedetta Voltolini

This paper investigates how the practices of lobbying and diplomacy aimed at influencing EU foreign policy are related to each other: whether they are overlapping, competing or cooperative practices. It thus aims to identify similarities and differences in the activities of diplomats and lobbyists with a view to understanding the relations between state and non-state actors in their attempt to shape the making of EU foreign policy. While diplomacy has generally been associated with states and lobbying with the activities of non-state actors, there is evidence that the boundaries between lobbying and diplomacy are increasingly blurred. Not only has diplomacy expanded to a new range of issues and actors – thus challenging the exclusivity of diplomacy as a state domain - but states also outsource part of their diplomatic activities by hiring consultancy firms (e.g., APCO, Burson-Marsteller, Alber&Geiger) to promote their interests within the EU. At the same time, lobbying has also become prominent in the case of EU external relations, with numerous actors trying to shape EU foreign policy towards third countries. In some cases, non-state actors promote and defend the interests of third countries, making it difficult to distinguish when these non-state actors speak on their own behalf or act in cooperation with or as coopted forces for that country. The discussion is supported by empirical evidence from the case study of EU foreign policy towards the Middle East and North Africa. 

This workshop is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant Agreement No. 657949 

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Contacts: olivier.rozenberg@sciencespo.fr - benedetta.voltolini@sciencespo.fr 

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