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“Passion is key to advocacy”- Marion Lupin, Policy Advisor at ECCJ

Before joining the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) to work on mandatory human rights due diligence and company law, Marion Lupin was an EU Affairs advisor for the Belgian Liberal Trade Union EU and national social policy. We interviewed Marion on the sidelines of the 8th EU Academy in Brussels in November 2022.

What does the change you are trying to achieve look like? Why is the EU important for creating this change?

Our main focus for change revolves around corporate justice and accountability. Our main pillars within this are due diligence and transparency. Due diligence means having companies engage with the risks and impacts of their transnational activities, prevent them, mitigate them, and remedy if needed.

Institutions such as the EU are important in this, because gross corporate violations happen across global supply chains, in countries that have a weak rule of law, or where decision-makers are generally unwilling or unable to implement labour and environmental standards and so on… and so issues must be addressed at the international, or EU level, rather than at national level.

What is your biggest challenge?

I think in our case the most difficult thing is getting through to governments and national actors. Thanks to the work of my predecessors, we’ve already managed to build some close ties with the more progressive, green side within the EU parliament. But meeting and influencing ministers or diplomats in permanent representations is quite hard.

One of the main reasons for this is that national governments undergo heavy and continuous influence from business lobbies and trade associations. In the initial stages of legislation, governments are more receptive to us, but when a file starts to pick up speed, Business Europe gears up its lobbying machine. Governments then become a lot more conservative, they start raising more objections. Council drafts become increasingly diluted. The business lobby’s arguments seep in quite quickly because they always leverage the economy, the job side, and that’s kind of a quick-fix for governments.

One tip you want to share with other public interest advocates engaging with the EU?

I think advocacy is hard - you need to find an area that is going to bring you passion and that you’re interested in… otherwise it can be quite soul destroying.

Another tip I would give, is that when you get to Brussels, everyone is going to bombard you with the importance of networking… but my advice is that you should network in a genuine way. You should try to build a true, meaningful and reciprocal relationship with people that can actually have a lasting impact on your career.

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