As Brussels headhunters, insiders and old-timers, we are asked every week to recommend people and firms for organisations needing to expand their influence toward the EU. In conceiving this project we wanted to fill an unmet need, as until now, there has been no adequate resource to help clients identify and choose the right partner in the capital of the European Union. BestinBrussels.eu is the first and only independent resource for organisations wanting to identify, compare and choose the best partners in Brussels for their advocacy needs.
Lobbying in Brussels is a significant industry, led by well-educated, highly-skilled, knowledgeable and mostly agreeable people. Every major commercial, not-for-profit, and governmental organisation lobbies in Brussels; academic programmes educate lobbyists; and well-established professional bodies like EPACA and SEAP represent the sector and spread best practice. The lobbying sector contributes hundreds of millions of euros to the Brussels economy, and fosters better EU policy-making for business and citizens. Hence, BestinBrussels.eu is unapologetically pro-lobbying and seeks to promote best practice, the best firms and the best professionals. Our overall mission is to help connect the best Brussels lobbyists with clients.
The European Commission believes that “lobbying is a legitimate part of the democratic system, regardless of whether it is carried out by individual citizens or companies, civil society organisations and other interest groups or firms working on behalf of third parties (public affairs professionals, think-tanks and lawyers).” Hence, lobbying deserves a better reputation and thank goodness lobbying exists in the way it does in Brussels – essentially free of corruption and where what you know, is more important than who you know. In Brussels the force of rational argument and a compelling story will generally win the day; while In Beijing you cannot do anything without Communist Party connections; and in Washington DC what really counts is how much money is raised through Political Action Committees.
According to Transparency International there are more than 48,000 lobbyists in Brussels working for 12,000 organisations who declare a combined annual lobby budget of 1.8 billion euros, although we suspect the real number is significantly higher when all costs are taken into account. Many of these lobbyists work for public affairs consultancies and law firms. According to the Transparency Register there are over 200 EU public affairs consultancies and around 50 law firms with Brussels offices who interact with EU institutions. Some in-house practitioners outsource half of their workload to outside firms, so the ethics, professionalism and know-how of their advisors are key to how a public affairs team — and an entire organisation — are perceived by the EU institutions and important stakeholders. Choosing the Best in Brussels is therefore a critical decision for any organisation with important reputational, regulatory and political implications.
Although great work is carried out across the sector less than 100 firms really drive best practice and the market. BestinBrussels.eu examines the Brussels market and the leading consultancies and law firms, hereafter often referred to collectively as ‘firms’.
BestinBrussels.eu was first published as a report, downloadable e-book and website in February 2019. Annual editions have been published every spring, every year since then.
Thanks to the support of BestinBrussels´ sponsors, this year we will have donated 75,000 euros to charity since we started in 2019. We have donated over 60,000 euros to UNICEF, and over 15,000 euros to Brussels charities for the homeless, due to the dire situation of many people in the capital. BestinBrussels is an official sponsor of DoucheFlux which provides essential services in its fully operational day centre, temporary accommodation for women and couples, and a wide range of activities which give self-confidence and dignity to homeless people.
The report is published by Dober Partners srl.