European Association Management: European politics at its best

Why influence European policy?

European policy makers aim to make policy that stimulates economic growth and jobs by opening up the European market to as many European entrepreneurs as possible. This means that European policy essentially aims at helping entrepreneurs with going cross-border and providing them with tools to enter these new markets as easily as possible. The only way in which the legislators can shape such policy effectively is by input from – you guessed it – entrepreneurs themselves. A policy maker who has never run a business before prefers to hear from the businessmen and –women out there how European policy can best help them expand their enterprise. But how to gather input and advice from people who already have a 60-hour work week crammed with executing market strategies, operations management, sales targets and financial planning? How to influence European politics as an entrepreneur?

An association as intermediary

Just like not every European individual gets on the soapbox themselves but rather is represented through a politician, not every business in Europe has to delve into the Brussels’ web of policy influence on its own. European associations gather the interests of European businesses from one particular sector, and through representatives in Brussels convey these interests to the policy makers. At Dr2 consultants we are for example experienced in association management for sectors like the e-commerce sector and the healthy lifestyle sector. Running an association successfully means maintaining a strong connection with the daily experiences of the businesses represented, translating these issues into policy challenges (which often means not having more legislation at all), and – by being a reliable partner and having thorough knowledge of the process – finding solutions to these challenges together with the European policy makers.

Business minds think alike

Perhaps the hardest part for many associations is to keep a strong connection with the businesses they represent. For anyone who has ever visited Brussels for a stakeholder meeting or policy conference, it should be clear that in the ‘Brussels bubble’ the questions discussed become so abstract and bogged down by the issues of the day that the connection with ‘real life’ is easily lost. One of the strengths of our consultancy in association management is that we are entrepreneurs ourselves. We run a growing business every day and are therefore well aware of the challenges entrepreneurs face – be it constraints in resources, or administrative burdens. We understand the need to run an organisation effectively and efficiently. Moreover, we are able to translate policy issues in a language we all speak. In this way we ensure the business voice is represented in EU politics – in a business way.