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Master class: Lobbying in the EU - Relationships of EU Business and Associations

Monday, 29 September, 2014 - 10:00 to Monday, 29 September, 2014 - 17:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Brussels Diplomatic Academy
Pleinlaan 5, 1050 Brussels
Brussels Diplomatic Academy: Room Bruges
Brussels Diplomatic Academy
+32 (0) 2 614 8101
master class

What are the channels of influence in the EU? Why are companies becoming member of trade associations? What added value can associations provide to companies? How does the interest representation of an industry sector or profession take place in practice? This master class will look into business and association landscape on EU level.  It will provide the audience with insights on which channels are open and how well-run associations can leverage the business case of companies. The course will look into the practical side of knowledge exchange and explain how businesses and associations position a sector in a pro-active manner.


The master class is aimed at:

- Government affairs professionals in corporations and associations
- Diplomats active in advocacy and EU-government relations
- NGO leaders and members
- Consultants


Various groups and organizations play a very important role in representing industry sectors on national, European and international level.  For example, companies become member of a business association for various reasons although the common denominator is always what forms a most effective interest representation.  Associations can be a very powerful tool to defend the interests of a specific sector.  This can be critical and beneficial in the contact on political level, with officials and decision makers.
This course will also look into the evolution that associations, especially on European level, have gone through. Originally, the main objective of an association was to lobby the decision makers in the context of legislation. Although today lobbying is still important, one can notice a shift towards a much wider representation and collaboration among stakeholders. Rather than being re-active, associations are focusing on studies and strategies which illustrate facts about the sector or profession as well as a long term vision.  Other groups play a role too: standards organizations, think tanks and unions.


The master class will be covering the following aspects:

1. The channels that companies could build
• Options and choices
• Costs and benefits to take into account
• Channels that range from ad-hoc to those for strategic outcomes

2. Channels that deserve more analysis besides usual direct access:
• Diplomatic, political and government relations (Coreper, Permanent Representation)
• NGOs, agencies or standards organizations
• National and international relations and across various levels

3. Associations, groupings and society landscape on EU level
• Different types of associations: professional societies, federations, trade associations and hybrid associations
• The overall role of groups and how they differentiate
• Services and activities
• Considerations for companies to become member of an association

4. Association governance
• Structure of an association
• Decision making process
• The role of the members
• The importance of setting the right budget

5. Pro-active positioning
• Shift in focus of the objectives
• Strategic positioning
• Mid-to long term vision
• Steps to develop and implement an efficient and effective lobby strategies
• What can go wrong?

6. Examples of activities undertaken by associations
• Direct lobbying: case study from developing the strategy to implementing the lobby activities
• Pro-active representation: examples of what associations can do to position the sector in a positive way towards the stakeholders

Alfons Westgeest is Managing Partner of Kellen Europe, a professional services firm for regional, EU and global trade associations and professional societies, with focus on EU and government relations and strategic advisory services. He holds a master degree in Commercial and European law from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands and has over 30 years of experience in advising and managing business groups and representation in Brussels and Washington DC and since 2006 in Beijing, China.


The course materials will be explained and debated with participants in a structured manner. Classes will analyze Case Studies. Q&A will allow participants to learn faster. By the end of the seminar, the participants should be able to:
- Understand the relevance of all channels for corporations and stakeholders
- Identify the key-success factors of an efficient association
- Analyse strategic benefits and costs

The working language of the seminar will be English.


Before the start of the course, a syllabus compiled by the lecturer will be handed over to the participants.


Participants will receive a certificate of attendance from the Brussels Diplomatic Academy of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Examination is not compulsory. Participants who opt for the examination, will be offered a certificate from the Brussels Diplomatic Academy of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, signed by the Rector.


29 September 2014, from 10.00 to 17.00.

Room Bruges
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 5, Karel Van Miert Building. 

It is building number 5 on the campus plan that can be downloaded at http://www.vub.ac.be/english/infoabout/campuses/etterbeek.html.
A description on how to find the campus is available on http://www.vub.ac.be/english/infoabout/campuses/index.html#etterbeek.
Free parking facilities are available on the campus in front of the building. A bar code gives access to the campus via campus entries 6 or 13 (see the red arrows on the campus plan). The scanner for the bar code is situated under the intercom.
A few days before the start of the event, participants will receive a bar code giving access to the parking.


The fee for this master class is 750 EUR.
VAT Settlement: exempted from VAT: Art 44 § 2, 4° of the VAT code.
The above prices include the registration fee and all material relating to the “Relationships of EU Business and Associations” master class, as well as the coffee breaks for the duration of the event and the networking reception.
Hotel accommodation is not included in the registration fees.
Flemish companies can make use of the “KMO-portefeuille”: www.beaweb.be (Admission number BDA for “Training”: DV.O211124).

Attendees are requested to pay by bank transfer only, upon receipt of invoice.
Confirmation of registration and practical information will be sent only after receipt of payment.
Cancellations can only be accepted if received in writing to bda@vub.ac.be by 15 September 2014. Fees (less 25 euro administrative charges) will then be refunded. After this date, delegates will be liable for the full fee.
In case of cancellation, a substitution between members of the same company is still possible at any time.


To register for this master class, please fill in the online registration form below:

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Contact details 

Tel:  +32 (0) 2 614 8101
Fax: +32 (0) 2 614 8080
Email address: bda@vub.ac.be
Campus online: map

Postal address:
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels

Visitor’s address:
Pleinlaan 5 (ground floor)
1050 Brussels