black box and source of information

For stakeholders the COM represents both a black box and a vital source of information. For representatives in Brussels the knowledge what the COM plans is a basic resource and since, especially with respect to future activities, it resembles a black box, some kind of an early alert is important to reduce the structural uncertainty of this situation.
Early alerts can be retrieved through personal contact and working relationships with officials. Because the question of how those contacts can be established is the subject of another post, we can here ask: What is the value of such an early alert?
First of all, retrieved from a personal contact the alert equals preliminary information on the internal policy agenda in the COM. The reliability of such information depends on the quality of the personal contact. Assuming that it is sufficiently reliable, the fact that it is early gives an actor a competitive edge to form an opinion and to develop a position toward a policy proposal. This value diminishes if the preliminary information is widely circulated among actors who are affected by the proposal. Early alert information is therefore not regularly shared among actors.
It is also important to note, that generally an existing interest in the subject is an perquisite for a early alert. Either an actor knows what to ask for or – more likely – a commission official know what a contact is interested in and offers information “that might be of interest to you”. Which then leads to the question, what benefits are in for an officials that distributes information?