EUROPE AS AN OPPORTUNITY: INFLUENCING IN ADVANCE TO BECOME A BENEFICIARY LATER
Economic recovery presents major opportunities. The following years, we will attend unprecedented changes both with the arrival of funds and with new policies and regulations which will transform all economic sectors.
This is the current challenge. At Alonso & Asociados, with 35 years of expertise at the heart of European power, with the contacts and the confidence deposited on our professional team by EU actors and international agencies, we offer a tailored costume to help you in this endeavour.
Arrival of Funds
The EU is preparing for an unprecedented Recovery Plan, together with the approval of the 2021-2027 financial framework. Almost 30 years ago, the European Union approved the largest development operation of European history by doubling the Structural Funds and the creation of the Cohesion Fund. Now, this new Recovery Plan (NextGenerationEU) envisages €750 bn to overcome the economic difficulties from COVID-19. This represents an unprecedent and substantial increase of the budgetary transfers to each of the 27 Member States in the coming years.
Differing from the previous funds, this time an engagement from private sector is needed at the design, the approval, and the execution of National Recovery and Resilience Plans. The allocation of subsidies and loans shall now contribute to sustainability, digitalisation, protection of biodiversity, circular economy, and decarbonisation of the economy.
Being consulted is not enough. Private stakeholders shall get ahead and offer to their governments intelligent, sound, and viable initiatives which guarantee both the approval of these subsidies and loans by Brussels, as well as its subsequent execution. Influencing in advance to become a beneficiary later in the stream.
Universities, research centres and think tanks will also have their opportunity to benefit from EU funds.
Changes of policies and regulations
The pandemic will accelerate ongoing processes such as fight against climate change and digitalisation. All sectors will be affected.
Transport infrastructures, energy and telecommunications will experiment a big push, as will other sectors such as health, security, and environment. Mobility of people and goods will also experiment radical changes under the new European strategy. Agriculture production and food industry shall adapt to a consumer who demands sustainability, social justice, and animal welfare, as established in the new EU strategy ‘Farm to Fork’. Goods and services industry will accelerate its transformation to new consumption models which favour use over property and which will convert the subscription/fee as the new way of working. All this will be done under an increasing transparency, where privacy comes second if it allows for a customised service thanks to big & smart data.
These are the lessons learned during these last months and the key to lobby in the agenda of the next decade:
- National solutions are not valid to solve global problems. After a hesitant beginning, the EU has risen more than ever as the protective shield during the worst part of the crisis, and it aims at being the best vessel in the future. The actions of the European Central Bank, the softening of the Stability Pact, the relaxation of state aid rules, the support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE) and measures to support agriculture sector also show the European commitment are good examples of this commitment. The approval of the Recovery Fund (NextGenerationEU) in upcoming dates will confirm this leading role of the EU.
- A golden age for public affairs and new forms of governance. Companies -individually or through associations- are bound to be in the centres of power (and particularly in Brussels) and shall have strategies and resources to intervene there. In this endeavour, lobbyists are professionals of influence management aiming at helping different sectors in the design of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, monitoring of its approval by the European Commission and checking its execution. We also attend to an early detection of policy and regulatory opportunities and threats and to competitors’ activities.
- A new lobby with new and more intervention spaces. Travel restrictions will require having a permanent antenna in the centres of power, such as Brussels (as it saves time and money, it has professional efficiency, and it guarantees results). The success of our work will not come from the generalisation of videoconferences, but from factors such as the quality of physical contacts against its quantity -which will be hereinafter more limited-, and the immediacy and closeness to the centre of power. Nonetheless, it will be undoubtedly shaped by the experience and trustworthiness of someone who has been working for decades at the heart of the EU and international agencies. Finally, we will see a widespread use of expeditious regulatory procedures (implementing and delegated acts, written and urgency procedures). The limited transparency of these procedures entails an additional effort that only a specialist in European affairs familiarised with non-written rules can successfully lead thus avoiding being lost in translation.