Posted on 01/07/2011
There are three areas where you can be active and influential. Lobbying requires a coordinated approach and we have tried to provide some background information that will help you make the right contact and be effective;
National Ministers and Members of Parliament
All Member States of the European Union play an important part in approving legislation and it is vital that the relevant ministers are contacted to ensure they understand your concerns. We have provided a list of relevant ministers in each country that you can contact concerning specific animal welfare issues.
Download the List of National Ministers
The European Commission has the sole right to propose new legislation in the European Union and we must ensure that the Commissioner in charge of each policy area understands our concern and the implications legislation has on animal welfare. You will find a full list of the European Commissioners at the following link together with their portfolios
Link to European Commissioners
It is essential that you contact the correct Member of the European Parliament and you can locate your own MEP by visiting the following link which provides you with all contact details for all MEPs by country and constituency.
Link to the Members of the European Parliament's database
Contacting your lobby target
All of the tips given below are focussed on MEPs but can be adapted to contact the European Commission or national ministers and MPs or indeed any decision maker operating in the legislative process.
Research shows that decision makers especially MEPs and MPs respond more favourably to individual letters from their constituents than to standard template letters sent by unknown individuals.
Regarding MEPs you can make contact with them during constituency weeks when MEPs return home to meet their local voters. If you feel strongly about an issue you can make an appointment to meet and talk to your MEP. To find out when an MEP will be in their constituency contact your local town hall or the local office of your MEPs political party.
What can an MEP do?
The primary role of an MEP is to represent their constituents’ interests at the European Parliament. Therefore you can request your MEP to undertake specific actions such as:
- To meet with you to discuss an issue
- Speak or write to your national government concerning specific activities
- Present a written or oral question in the European parliament requiring a response from the European Commission or the European Council
- Propose or sign a written declaration on a specific topic
- Speak in a debate
- Develop an own initiative report
- Introduce amendments to existing Reports or opinions of the Parliament
- Raise issues during specific committee meetings
- Take part in an intergroup activity or meeting
- Influence their own political group
Meeting an MEP
It is essential to do some homework and understand who your MEP is, their biographies are regularly found on their own websites or in reference books at most public libraries. It is also worth keeping an eye out for local media articles to understand what particular interests or concerns your MEP has.
It is always important to prepare well in advance of a meeting. This includes outlining your reasons for the meeting when contacting the MEP, they need to prepare as well
Decide who will go ensuring that you keep the number small and have a balance in sex, age and interests. This will show the broad local concern regarding an issue.
Always plan who will start the meeting and introduce the others, the points you wish to make and who is going to make them. It is recommended that you take notes and ensure you have relevant factual material with you. Also make sure you have a clear goal and all know what you are asking for during the meeting.
During the meeting
- Just before you start, remind yourself why you are going. In particular remind yourself of your arguments and justification and the reason you are there.
- Make careful notes especially if any clear action points are agreed.
- When your MEP sounds sympathetic try to convince them to make specific commitments.
- Remain calm and businesslike as it is important to try to build a relationship that will recognise you as an expert and source of knowledge as well as opening the door for future meetings.
- Once the meeting is over meet up and discuss to ensure you all have a clear understanding and record of the points discussed, including any specific actions or commitments.
- Write to your MEP and thank them for the meeting and summarise the key action points as you understand them.
- Decide on what if any follow up you are going to do including organising any follow up of the meeting.
- If you feel you have been unsuccessful in convincing your MEP look for natural allies that may carry more weight or influence and work with them.