Times of Change, Times for Change: The Environmental NGOs in the 'brussels Bubble'

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Elise Richter Saal (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Nathalie BERNY, Sciences Po Bordeaux, France
The main trends affecting the advocacy activities of the environmental NGOs established in Brussels reflect the challenges green movements face today in terms of modes of action and targets. The paper analyses the changes in decision-making procedures, funding and agenda of the first established NGOs in Brussels. All advocate on a large range of issues and have expanded in terms of staff and numbers of member organisations.

Brussels is often viewed as the main capital for lobbying after Washington, attracting advocacy organisations, also from the environmental movement, since the very beginning of the European Economic Community. The growing number of environmental NGOs in Brussels is indeed parallel to the development of a public policy in this field. The EEB was set up in 1974 by several leaders of the newborn national environmental organisations in Europe. More than a decade later, Friends of the Earth, WWF and Greenpeace, recently reorganised, set up their own offices in Brussels. All three adapted their organisational charts to create a regional representation, with specific rules of decision-making. They also aligned with the conventional style of politics on the EU stage, thus contrasting with the strategies at the domestic level.

In the aftermath of the Copenhagen conference in 2009, the former ways of operating in Brussels (the focus on lobbying and the EU institutions) appear no longer adequate in the light of the current problems, from the priority given to the economy by the present Commission at the expense of the environment to the deadlock international negotiations on climate change. The paper will address how the various challenges have been met by the four NGOs mentioned, with a focus on the recent changes they underwent in terms of agendas and decision-making processes.