Five years before Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004, the country's business community established a foothold in Brussels. Its presence has been growing ever since.

The initial impetus for a Brussels-based lobbying office, which is now the Slovenian Business and Research Association (SBRA), came in 1998 from the chambers of commerce and industry with the support of the Ministries of Science and Agriculture. The membership is now very heterogeneous, ranging from companies and banks to universities and cities. The latest recruits are Slovenia's 250 municipalities.

The office's Director since its creation is Dr Boris Cizelj. He is no stranger to the Brussels scene, having been his country's first ambassador to the EU, NATO and the Western European Union between 1992 and 1998 and, during the following year, deputy head of the government's core accession negotiating team.

"We are condemned to take a broad view on policy areas," he says with a smile, itemising economic issues, the single market, competition, research and, more recently, regional development. The association helps its members when they have a specific problem and assists them in accessing EU funding. This service ranges from arranging study visits and finding partners to checking tenders are in order before being submitted.

"We help members to formulate a strategy towards EU funding and I emphasise three things. Firstly, the importance of contacts and networks. Secondly, the importance of new ideas and approaches. And only thirdly, funding," he explains.

Networking is a strong feature of SBRA's agenda. Occasionally, this goes beyond its members' direct interests and is designed to make...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT