At home, Benjamin Ledwon speaks English. With the people he meets on the street and in the stores in his Belgian homeland, he mostly communicates in French. And his working language is German. Born in Berlin, he studied in France and England and now lives in Brussels, where he already worked as a community service volunteer for a European NGO after graduating from high school. The 32-year-old is therefore a true European in the heart of Europe.
In his job, too, everything revolves around the political action of the association of states. After studying EU politics, Benjamin Ledwon first worked as an intern at the European Commission, then at the European Parliament, and then at the industry association Bitkom. For the past six months, he has been involved in European legislative processes as an employee of a major corporation. At present, new legislative proposals affecting his employer are coming from the Commission every week. Ledwon discusses them with his internal colleagues and then presents the results to the political decision-makers.
One topic that is currently of particular concern to Benjamin Ledwon is the green economy. “With the right to repair, for example, the Commission wants to ensure that electronic end devices can be used for longer. As a retailer, we are campaigning for manufacturers to be held responsible here because they have the know-how in terms of product design and produce the spare parts,” he explains.
Advocacy is a legitimate part of the political process
Another important topic is the proposed legislation on the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA), which are intended to create new rules for digital markets and platforms. “As Telekom, we are a customer on the one hand, but also a competitor of gatekeeper platforms on the other, and we believe that clear dos and don’ts are necessary to keep digital markets open,” says Benjamin Ledwon.
The telecommunications industry, in particular, is highly regulated, so representing interests vis-à-vis politicians plays a particularly important role. This is precisely why the young policy expert chose Telekom as his employer. “In other companies, this tends to be something of a distant memory; here, it really is part of the core business, and the department reports directly to the CEO,” he says. What is called “Public & Regulatory Affairs” at Telekom is also commonly known as lobbying and is subject to some prejudices. “As a company, we present our concerns to the business community, just as NGOs do for civil society. That is an important and legitimate part of the political process,” says Ledwon.
Common clichés of lobbyists cultivating their networks in backroom conversations with a whiskey in one hand and a cigar in the other have little to do with his day-to-day work, says Ledwon: “Today, it’s no longer enough to be the best buddy; as a lobbyist, you have to be convincing above all through your arguments. That’s exactly why the former politics student feels quite at home in his position as Senior Expert European Affairs at Telekom. Janna Degener-Storr