Natko Vlahovic, CEO of Vlahovic Group, gave a statement for an article about the Croatian lobbying industry in a Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji list. He pointed out that, according to preliminary calculations made by Vlahovic Group, the total worth of the Croatian lobbying industry at the moment is approximately €133 million. From that sum, about €40 million is spent annually on the event industry and advertising with the aim of creating political influence, about €10 million is spent annually by companies on their in-house lobbyists and associated activities, while professional consulting firms and lawyers gross about €20 million on lobbying services per year. The business associations (Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Croatian Employers’ Association, Croatian Banking Association, Croatian Tourism Association, and other foreign and professional chambers) spend approx. €60 million annually.
“Our rough estimate is that at least 500 people engage in lobbying and related activities in Croatia”, said Natko Vlahovic. However, out of only 6 professional Croatian consultants/lobbyists accredited within the EU’s Transparency Register for access to European Parliament premises, 5 are representatives of Vlahovic Group. The problem is in the lack of proper regulation of lobbying as a profession which opened the market for everyone. In Croatia today not only professional consultants/lobbyists lobby, but also business associations, NGOs, trade unions, lawyers, and in-house lobbyists.
According to the assessment of the Croatian Society of Lobbyists, of which Natko Vlahovic is Vice-President, there are at least 30 companies in Croatia that provide lobbying services, but most of them do not publicly declare that. Only 9 of these companies are registered in the EU’s Transparency Register, while there are 72 registered subjects from Croatia in total.
One of the key reasons for such secrecy is the negative perception of the term lobbying, and domestic misunderstanding of the lobbying service. Therefore, according to Vlahovic, professional lobbying services in Croatia today are mostly used by foreign investors and multinational companies that require the highest level of legal compliance in articulating and advocating business interests. For these clients, any entry into the “gray zone” means intolerable reputational and legal risk.
Link to the entire article in Croatian: Jutarnji List