Foreword from Paul Varakas, Emma Brown and Stefano Marmo
Over the last two years, Public Affairs has changed. Online campaigning has become more prominent. Whilst the online was slowing becoming a tool employed to influence the policy-making environment, the use of digital tools and the integration of such tactics was definitely sped up by the Covid pandemic. With everyone working from home and events stopped (albeit for a short period until those too transitioned online), lobbyists were forced to look at the opportunities the digital world offered to increasing advocacy efforts and accessing information on their files.
The frequency and use of online campaigning has now changed the game, but the rules remain the same. If you are looking to influence the European agenda, the discussions or target a specific policy-maker – online or offline – you are a lobbyist.
With the opening and conscious return to work protocols being decided in Brussels, we are faced with a need to navigate a new hybrid environment – employing the tactics of the lockdown and integrating them with the traditional activities of the past. Add to this the heightened scrutiny on policy-making, the improved emphasis on transparency, the increased difficulty in gaining access and information from policy-makers and the busier-than-ever agenda.
Brussels and its lobbyists are busier than ever.
As part of SEAP’s commitment to ensure the highest standards of policy-making, we have divided this mandate on different elements – Revolving Doors, Science and Technology, Better Regulation and Ethics. With these topics, the organisation hopes to maintain the reputation of the industry, tackle the misnomers often associated with lobbying, continue to build a strong network to drive positive change and hold the institutions accountable to the better regulation and democratic policy-making process.
We will continue to push for the highest possible level of transparency and ethical conduct, but we will do more, and open discussions never tackled in a public forum by public affairs professionals such as the issue of diversity in the sector. To help us take this next step forward, we are exploring a collaboration with our counterparts in Asia and the US.
SEAP is proud to partner with BestinBrussels.eu, an unapologetically pro-lobbying initiative that has helped creating a real sense around the public affairs sector in the EU bubble while seeking to promote best practice, the best firms and the best professionals.
At SEAP we will continue to remain vigilant to ensure that lobbying, in all its forms remains a corruption free zone. We encourage all participants in public affairs to support the industry by joining a professional body such as SEAP or EPACA. The environment for public affairs and its future fate rests on ensuring that stakeholders know that the profession is being managed at the highest standards. It is our mission at SEAP – make it yours.
We invite all Public Affairs Professionals interested in becoming a member of SEAP to reach out to us.
The Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) serves as the professional body representing public affairs professionals from across a broad spectrum of actors, from trade associations, in-house corporates, NGO’s and consultancies. SEAP already counts with more than 25 years of history upholding strong standards of transparency and ethical behaviour for the industry, taking a leading role in promoting self-regulation initiatives (such as our Code of Conduct) and participating in public debates to ensure industry voices are heard in the development of regulations that might affect their activities.