Lobbying in the European Union

Academic Paper, 2018

11 Pages


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Outside lobby

3. Unions in Malta

4. Media strategy
4.1 Contact your MEP

5. Alternative: Protesting

6. Arguments against social media strategy

7. Conclusion

8. Bibliography

1. Introduction

The aim of this paper is to identify the best media strategy for a Maltese union in order to stop an governmental policy not in their favour. It is here requested to find a way to convince the union not to use the social media strategy; the assumption is that it would not be cost effective.

In the first part the paper highlights some basic background information about what outside lobby is and then it goes more into detail, and analyses the different media strategies the union could use and which steps exactly are requested. In the second part, the goal is to bring out arguments against the use of social media, for this purpose second literature will be used. This paper will also consider some alternative strategies before getting to the conclusion.

2. Outside lobby

The academic world agrees about a classification of lobby into two types: inside and outside. The main difference is that inside lobbying gets directly in contact with the decision-makers, while indirect lobby targets the public opinion, but the main goal is the same, to influence decision-makers. The strategy is to influence policy makers by first mobilizing the public opinion. (Tresh and Fischer, 2015)

The main outside strategies which can be combined in practice are four. First, media-related activities, the targets are the journalists and the aim is to make policies positions public. The second strategy is spreading information, third and fourth are mobilization and protest (the target of the last two is the public). Moreover, mobilization and protest differ from the other strategies because they actually involve direct contact with the public. (Tresh and Fischer, 2015) These four strategies differ mainly according to the target and in which extend the public is involved in the topic.

Which strategy should the union choose? Tresh and Fischer argue that since some interest groups do not represent diffuse interest, but rather represent particular categories they are likely to use controversial tactics, while they expect bigger and well established Social Movement Organizations (SMOs) to use more temperate strategies. They expect unions to use mobilization and protests, since they do not represent a large public.

We have here to keep in mind that political parties are always looking for media attention, and usually left parties welcome more protests and mobilization, which are usually used by unions and SMOs. (Tresh and Fischer, 2015) Another very important result of Tresh and Fischer's studies is that interest groups, in this case unions, get high share of media coverage from the protest strategies. (Tresh and Fischer, 2015) They conclude that we have to expect different outcomes from outside strategies adopted by different groups.

3. Unions in Malta

The first steps the union has to follow are: to analyse the context, (the union has to consider the party at the government); the general media arena in order to understand possible supporters or enemies; to choose the best strategy, and especially it has to identify a target. Second step is to identify the objective, which in this case is to stop a policy of the government which goes against their interests. Third step before starting to implement the strategy is to identify the message, which the union wants to deliver.

In this context, it is important to consider that the budget of the unions is usually limited, their budget depends mainly from the members, and they are limited.

4. Media strategy

To get media attention the union has to create a public awareness of the topic it wants to lobby. A good media strategy could get more media coverage that usually attracts policy-makers, moreover it can increase public awareness and sympathy. (O’Mahony, 2006)

Tresh and Fischer state that media strategies are the most used strategy of outside lobby, according to their study the average use of different outside lobbying strategies by unions are mainly media, followed by informing, mobilizing and protest strategies, but they are very keen to adopt the protest strategy, more often than other types of interest groups. (Tresh and Fischer, 2015)

Strategies used in media-related activities are: giving interviews to media, writing newspaper articles, distributing press releases, holding press conferences, campaigns. (Tresh and Fischer, 2015)

The suggested strategy for the union would be the classical media strategy for the beginning. In the media strategy the union has to give interviews, especially the leader, who has to concentrate on the message he/she wants to deliver. (O’Mahony, 2006) According to O’Mahony the spokesperson(s) have to maintain professionalism in any interview, he/she needs to be well prepared for difficult question, if it is a radio or phone interview he/she may use some notes. Moreover, it is important to know if the interview is live or recorded, so that the spokesperson knows if there are further chances of remedying his/her mistakes. (O’Mahony, 2006)

It is fundamental to keep the level of interest of the media extremely high on the topic of the Maltese union. The media coverage should be so high that the decision-makers have to respond, they cannot avoid it since there is a public request for action. O’Mahony suggests also taking advantage from eventual political situations, in case of elections for example, it could be a strategy option to involve the opposition, by asking to include a commitment to try to stop that particular initiative.

The author Kollman studied another element of this strategy, he mentions the press conferences, which do not necessarily make the topic popular in big countries, and he himself says that the information spread by the conference may not go beyond Washington (place of his studies). (Kollman, 1998) Nevertheless, this would not represent a huge barrier for Malta due to its size.

When it comes to different advertisement media strategies, Kollman argues that television is the main instrument to communicate salience information. (Kollman, 1998) However, Kollman mentions that usually information spread in television and radio are very popular topics, so it may depend from the popularity of the topic. Sometimes the topic at heart of unions regards only a particular and limited group.

Another suggestion is to organise meetings with important guest speakers, much better if from abroad, or Maltese representatives abroad, and to attend public meetings organised by politicians from the governing party. (O’Mahony, 2006)

4.1 Contact your MEP

As mentioned before, having important guest speakers coming from abroad may have positive effects for the campaign, in fact, the union and the representatives from abroad are both looking for media coverage.

This section analyses the option of the union to involve a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in its strategy. The European Parliament (EP) is a very important institution involved in the legislation process and it is considered to be the most open institution at EU level, this means open even towards lobby. (Lehmann, 2009) Since the Lisbon Treaty the EP got more powers, it is now involved in the co-decision procedure and it has more powers when it comes to the budget, this explains its increased importance for the lobbyists.

Scholars use the exchange approach to explain the relationship between EP and interest groups, which is very similar to the situation at the Commission. In this particular case the Maltese union could provide for information about the domestic interest and use the MEP to influence the Maltese decision-makers.

The key logic behind lobbying a MEP is that he/she wants to be re-elected, in contrast to other official positions which are appointed, MEP is more willing to please interests groups and is always interested in media attention. In the literature, it is mentioned that MEP gather information from colleagues and lobbyists, this means that they can be persuaded in an easier way. (Friends of Earth, 2008) Very common strategies to get in touch with an MEP are following: to write letters, to meet them personally, to build a more than superficial relation with them, and to work with them to get press coverage. (Friends of Earth, 2008) The latter is the one suggested strategy for the Maltese union.

If the Union is able to have an MEP at their press conference as guest speaker for example, the image of the EMP will give to the topic a bigger media coverage, he/she may reach a brighter public, and it may increase the possibilities for media coverage even at European level, this would put more pressure on national policy-makers. Moreover, they have to push members to attend meetings, according to O’Mahony this is even a way to understand who is a supporter and how and where they can help, of course the best targets would be politicians and elected governmental officials. Before choosing which MEP to address the union should consider following information: usually left oriented parties are more open to union, due to ideology and historical links.

5. Alternative: Protesting

Kollman mentions protesting as a very effective and common used strategy by unions. (Kollman, 1998) The problem with protests is that the union has no influence on how the media will represent the protest, it could affect the union’s campaign in a negative way, choosing protest as strategy is a clear risk, there is no control on the outcome.

In the Maltese case, the main unions (General Workers Union and HUM) are very often mentioned in the newspapers (see the articles of Times of Malta), when they organise an industrial action, protests are without any doubt very effective to get media coverage. A deep research of unions in the Maltese media could be an interesting field for further researches.

In the last decades demonstrations at EU level have increased, although they represent more an exception, this shows clearly that the supranational institutions are considered a target to influence. (Lehmann, 2009) If the Maltese union wants to stop a policy which is relevant even in other member states or is a European matter it could be actually an option for the union the get involved in demonstrations at EU level.

6. Arguments against social media strategy

Since the latest development during the Spring Revolution in Arab countries or other types of social movements like Indignados and Movimento 5 Stelle, social media have been used in order to organize masses. Scholars agree that they are now used as advocacy activity. (Shotton and Chalmers, 2015)

Social media have strong powers to mobilize people so they play an important role for interest groups, their main powers are: easy access, speed, openness and transparency. Moreover, some scholars argue that internet is able to remove the distinction between well-off and less rich people. Internet made policy makers more accessible, through internet, it is possible to get easily their email addresses, and more generally, internet can be considered as the weapon of the poor. (Shotton and Chalmers, 2015)

In the last years the consultations of policy makers online have increased, formal and non formal stakeholders, even governments have turned to online consultations. (Shotton and Chalmers, 2015)

Several scholars argue that the use of the media strategy is usually related to a resource-based hypothesis, McNutt argues that missing expertise and lack of equipment are the main barriers for an effective social media use. (Rognean, 2016) However, if used in the correct way social media can reduce costs, by making communication faster and cheaper. (Shotton and Chalmers, 2015)


Excerpt out of 11 pages


Lobbying in the European Union
University of Malta  (Institute of European Studies)
M.A. European Politics, Economics and Law
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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497 KB
lobbying; european union; EU; lobby; political science; european studies;
Quote paper
B.A. Integrated European Studies Amelia Martha Matera (Author), 2018, Lobbying in the European Union, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/433452


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