On March 14th members of the EACD (@eacdonline) and APRI (@Lobby_ES, Asociación de Profesionales de las Relaciones Institucionales) gathered in Madrid to debate the role of public affairs and how communication professionals can participate in regulatory processes. Together with our expert speakers the group analysed the influence of societal and political developments on communications and what it means to communicate with political organisations, public administrations, trade associations, or any other relevant stakeholder to pursue a business or regulatory objective.

Throughout the session the diverse range of areas covered by public affairs was examined such as government relations, issues management, and CSR to promote and protect an organisation's interests effectively. Our speakers illustrated how public affairs serves as an important societal function by putting forward the views of stakeholders to policy makers and ultimately contributing to the change of legislation.

Maria Rosa Rotondo @mrrotondo, Managing Partner at Political Intelligence and founding member and President of APRI, described the origins of lobbying in the US and the UK, as well as the current situation in Europe and Spain. This topic is of extraordinary relevance in Spain at the moment as several political parties have presented initiatives in the Spanish Congress to regulate the activities of lobbyists. A few weeks ago, a draft law against corruption was submitted by the Spanish liberal party Ciudadanos, which proposes an official registry for everyone who wants to lobby the Spanish government. If approved, Spain would become the first European country to have a register that covers meetings with any public official, not just politicians, as observed by Brussels-based magazine Politico. On the same day as our regional event, the Spanish Congress approved to debate a proposal of the Popular Party - in government - which intends to regulate and disclose meetings with parliament representatives.

Pedro Fernández @Pedro_Fdez_M, Director Legal & External Affairs at British American Tobacco (BAT) shared his advocacy experience during the lobbying process around the 2014 Tobacco Products Directive. Most of the effort was done through a coalition named Spanish Tobacco Round Table, a working group that included companies and associations involved in the tobacco value chain. Created in 2011, its goal is to defend the industry's interest in front of Spanish and European institutions. In these processes good and meaningful communication is key - at strategic and tactical level.

Finally, Teresa Millan @teresemillanr, Corporate Affairs Director, Lilly Spain and Portugal, analysed the peculiarities of the pharma and health industries. Being a complex market, a proper approach to regulators and the right communications strategy play a key role - especially since European, national, and regional governments regulate activities. Given Millán’s wide experience in the area, including being a member of the Board of the Spanish Medicines Agency and advisor in the Office of the Spanish Prime Minister, Lilly’s case study was of great interest to all participants.

The event was organised in cooperation with the APRI and kindly hosted by Deloitte’s offices in Madrid. We want to thank EACD's regional coordinator Alfonso González Herrero @aglezherrero and our host for their fantastic support as well as our speakers for sharing such valuable insights.