More than 50 international students came together to study the contentious issue of lobbying in the European Union.
The course was led by the organisers of the Masters in European Public Relations (MARPE) and was held at the Artvelde University College in Ghent.
The programme included:
- A day on social media with Philip Young (University of Sunderland), experimenting with how best to use content and channels to increase levels of trust; prerequisites of civic and political engagement;
- A day meeting officials at the EU, followed by a reception with public affairs practitioners;
- A day focused specifically on financial lobbying, with direct reference to the current austerity debates;
- Sessions with practitioners including Francisca Melia (EU Relations Manager for the European Petroleum Association); Florence Ranson (Senior Advisor, PR & Communications, European Banking Federation); and Hans Hack (Senior Vice President, FTI Consulting, Brussels).
“Transparency is not enough. Professionals need to be more energetic about the case for lobbying, and politicians less scared about the case for articulating it. It has a positive contribution to make to democracy, just as barristers and solicitors do in law. We must seize that baton – and make those services available to a wider audience and on a more democratic basis,” said University of Greenwich MA student Sho Yamashita.