In episode 68 we welcome as our guest Peter van Keulen, a prominent lobbyist in The Netherlands. He talks about trust as a fundamental aspect of lobbying, and the importance to establish and maintain it through transparency, integrity, and access. He discusses the essential elements for building trust in lobbying, namely integrity, and access. Integrity is demonstrated through a code of conduct that outlines how lobbyists protect their clients’ interests and how they act toward the people they seek to influence. Access is the ability to interact with decision-makers due to relationships built over time. While knowing decision-makers does not guarantee success, it can be useful.
In the United States, lobbyists must register and disclose certain information about their activities under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. In Europe, regulations have been introduced, but they vary by member state, and The Netherlands has been slow to regulate lobbying. The European Commission has rules in place that prohibit former commissioners or high-level professionals from acting as lobbyists for a specific party for a specific period after leaving their position.
However, there are still stereotypes and misconceptions about lobbying that can impact the perception of the profession as a whole. When people view lobbyists as only representing big corporations or having questionable motives, it can be challenging to establish trust. That’s why it is crucial to educate the public and policymakers about the diversity of actors involved in lobbying and how it operates to foster trust and create a more positive image of the profession.
Ultimately, building trust is an ongoing process that requires open and honest communication and a commitment to ethical practices. NGOs, governments, and municipalities also engage in lobbying activities, and the growth of lobbying activities in the Netherlands is in the municipalities and provincial decision-making levels. By promoting transparency, integrity, and access, lobbyists can build and maintain trust with decision-makers and the public.