personal contacts & NGOs

To get information early enough to be able to react or develop a position is an essential task for people representing NGOs that work for more communal/diverse interests such as the environment, human rights, and consumer interests.
With regard to the COM, personal contacts on the working level are the primary source of information. In addition to general features of those contacts, the communication channel is also of importance. Most effective are acroamatic requests in comparison to written requests via e-mail or letter. The reason is traceability of information leaks, which is to say: if one represents common interest with which COM officials privately sympathize, more information are available, but not in a traceable format. Another option is to “ask” the COM via other more sympathetic actors in the political system, such as MEPs.
Another difference is the general sympathy for such common interests in respective DG’s, appreciation differs according to the policy area. Because common concerns are rather cross cutting in nature, it is often the case that actors deal with the same contact person in a variety of cases, which increases the probability to achieve a working relationship even if on the face of it that would not be very likely. But if a DG is sympathetic, officials provide early information and hints in order to be able to rely on well timed consumer or environmentalist statements/positions.
In general many actors benefit from regular conversations and run circles where a exchange of views is possible between actors from different sides of the opinion spectrum, such as industry associations and consumer organisations.