First Lobby Professor Netherlands
Leiden University has appointed a public affairs Professor, who’s job it is to give more insight into the work of lobbyists in the Netherlands. Arco Timmermans, research director of the Montesquieu Institute, will fulfill the function. It is the first time that a professor is appointed to specifically investigate lobby activities in the Netherlands.
The position is sponsored by the professional association for public affairs (BVPA). The association was established to improve the reputation of lobbyists in the society. Chairman Marcel Halma mentions that the establishment of a professor public affairs is a milestone. “We consider it important that more structural scientific research is done on advocacy and public affairs in the Netherlands.”
In his research, Timmermans will focus on how many lobbyists are active in public and private organizations and what interests they represent. He also wants to investigate the success of different lobbying strategies. In an interview with the Volkskrant, Timmermans says he is not appointed to improve the image of the lobby industry. "The more I find out about this process, the more I contribute to transparency. I am not appointed as a professor for this subject to let the lobby industry look more sympathetic."
It is not exactly known how many lobbyists are active in the Netherlands. The BVPA has nearly 600 members. Since 2012 the House has a mandatory lobby register. Any lobbyist who wants have a fixed access pass, needs to register. Lobbyists can also opt for a day pass to go inside. The Court distinguishes three types of lobbyists: employees of lobbying firms, representatives of civil society and representatives of municipalities and provinces. At the moment there are 75 registered representatives.
Timmermans is appointed for two days a week and will hold the position for at least three years. The position is part of Campus The Hague, a faculty of the University of Leiden.