The Dutch and lobbying: they don’t have an idea
In his new book about lobbying, Rinus van Schendelen doesn’t spare anybody. Nor anything. According to the EUR emeritus Professor the Dutch do everything wrong when it comes to influencing decision making.
Influence in the Netherlands and Europe, the book is called. In it Van Schendelen explains how lobbying works, looking specifically at the political arena in both the Netherlands and the European Union. More specifically he criticises the country on their lobbying skills. ‘Trade union FNV is failing in its lobbying and the House of Representatives have no idea how to influence decision making in Brussels,’ he says. ‘They complain a lot about the European Union, but they actually make a lot of mistakes themselves.’
Van Schendelen (1944) graduated at the University of Amsterdam and was a Professor in political science at Erasmus University before retiring a few years ago. He published almost 200 articles and more than 30 books, including The Art of Lobbying in the EU, by now an internationally acclaimed work. Some call him the lobbying guru, but he himself is not fond of that name. According to Van Schendelen lobbying is too narrow a concept. It’s more about influencing, he states.
Arrogant and neglective
Influencing starts with collecting all information possible on a subject, and ends with learning from the outcomes and evaluating what went right or wrong. Van Schendelen concludes that the Dutch fail on both sides. ‘They don’t collect enough information about the theme they want to influence, and are too arrogant to admit they were wrong afterwards.’ But he has a tip. Read a more than 2,000-year-old poem by Ovidius Ars Amandi, he suggests. In it Ovidius describes that someone who wants to influence should be indirect, informal, quiet, and kind. Apparently that’s what the Dutch are not.