A motion picture, a couple of actors, and invitations to politicians and officials; that was the recipe a few weeks ago, when the Danish shipping companies’ trade organization wanted renewed EU focus on piracy.
The Danish Shipowners’ Association is one of the organizations and businesses that has elected to have its own representation in Brussels. From a town house close to the EU institutions, Simon and an assistant serve as the eyes and ears of the Danish shipping companies.
“The EU quarter in Brussels is a village where a lot of people know each other, and a place where it’s important to be if one wants to be a part of the EU processes,” says Simon Christopher Bergulf.
He was born in Belgium, with family in Denmark, where he also used to live. Before taking the job as head of the Secretariat for the Danish Shipowners’ Association’s EU office, he worked in Brussels as a lobbyist for international consulting firm.
“A great deal of the legislation in Denmark and the other 26 member states comes from the EU. That’s why it’s obvious for the companies and industries to have a representation in this city. Actually, I’m surprised there isn’t more Danish industry represented here,” says Simon Christopher Bergulf.
A big part of his work consists of building relations in the EU Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. This means that he often participates in social events, but he denies that the job as lobbyist is based on champagne parties and glamour.
“It’s crucial to be serious and credible. We can’t push anything through by inviting someone for dinner, and stuff like that. No, on the contrary, we have to provide facts in order to get anyone to listen to us. The entire sphere here is so closely knit that you’re immediately disqualified if you fail to act credibly and honestly,” says the lobbyist.
In his major capacity as representative for the Danish shipping companies, he is very aware that he plays a significant role. The Danish industry is a business leader in Europe, which means that there is a lot of attention to what messages might come from the Danish representation.
“An important job for me is to make sure that the people back home are constantly updated about coming EU developments, so that we can get our perspectives, knowledge, and experiences passed on to people involved in the system. Oftentimes, I have people from the organization in Denmark and from the shipping companies down here with me, so they can participate in meetings and events.
And it ensures that I always keep the industry’s daily doings and commercial reality in mind.”
Among the most recent EU activities from the Danish shipping companies was an event in December, in the European Parliament, with a focus on piracy. The Danish film “A Hijacking” was shown at the event, and the meeting also included Danish actors and other people involved with the film who told of their experiences from making the movie.
“During the fall, we noticed how piracy and hostage taking had sort of slipped off the current agenda. That’s a major problem for the shipping companies, so we invited people to the event, where more than 120 politicians and other interested parties showed up. This will ensure that the topic remains on the EU agenda, and that the EU effort off the Horn of Africa is maintained,” says Simon Christopher Bergulf.