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The Rupp Report
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Who's Lobbying Whom?

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Lobbying is probably one of the oldest power games in the history of mankind. Since rules are established, people or interest groups who are affected by these rules fight against it, for whatever reason. And lobbying is one of the most preferred tools, and expensive too. Everybody knows some famous stories about lobbyists around the world.

Some weeks ago, we wrote about the new Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations. According to recent investigations, it is no wonder that the growing regulatory influence of the European Union (EU) led to the presence in Brussels of 15,000 to 20,000 lobbyists acting for industry and commerce associations, in-house public relations departments or specialist companies, lawyers, and non-governmental organizations.

It is said that BASF, Dow Chemical and DuPont have worked to make environmental and health regulations of chemicals - regulations such as REACH - more industry-friendly. The Bromine Science and Environmental Forum (BSEF) sought to prevent an EU ban on brominated flame retardants.

Leapfrog (?)
A key target for lobbyists is the European Commission, which proposes new legislation and controls the implementation of EU regulations. It also encourages companies to participate in collaborative research, using EU funds as an incentive. One such collaboration under the funny acronym "Leapfrog" (Leadership for European Apparel Productions From Research along Original Guidelines), for example, aims to make technological breakthroughs in apparel manufacturing.

Most textile lobbyists in Brussels focus on EU trade policy, including: trade relations with leading textile-exporting countries; the EU stance on the Doha Round; negotiations of bilateral free trade agreements; efforts to get better access to markets in China and India; reforms of origin rules; and "Made in ___" labels for apparel imported into the EU. Other targets include the Council of Ministers and the Textile-Clothing committee within the European Parliament, and ..., and ..., and ....

Very Active Textile Industry  ...
Lobbying is also undertaken by Brussels-based industry associations such as the European Apparel and Textile Organisation (Euratex), Comité International de la Rayonne et des Fibres Synthétiques/International Association of the Viscose and Man-Made Fibers (CIRFS), the European Association for Textile Polyolefins (EATP), the European Synthetic Turf Organisation (ESTO), the International Association Serving the Nonwovens and Related Industries (EDANA), and Eurocoton, which represents the cotton and allied textile industries in 11 EU countries and is known in Asia for its tough policy on anti-dumping. The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO), represents 4,000 wool and textile companies, while the Asociación de Colectividades Textiles Europeas (ACTE) represents the interests of more than 70 territories with strong textile and fashion sectors in eight European countries.

... And The European Sporting Goods Manufacturers
The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), meanwhile, defends European sporting goods manufacturers' interests in Brussels and includes brands such as Asics, Diadora, Lotto, Nike, Puma, and Reebok among its members. Commerce associations include the European Association of Fashion Retailers (AEDT); Eurocommerce, which represents the interests of companies engaged in retail, wholesale and international trade; and the Foreign Trade Association (FTA), which campaigns for the free importation of goods into the EU and fights protectionism outside Europe. The FTA has also established the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), which provides retail, importing and brand companies with a system for improving working conditions.

Money Makes The World Go Round
It might be useful, or not, to think about who's paying the expense accounts for 15,000 to 20,000 people walking around Brussels, inviting parliament members 24 hours a day to have a chat, or so. Maybe it would be worthwhile to think about opening a five-star hotel or top-class restaurant in Brussels - or at least to be a lobbyist.

May 20, 2008