The representation of business interests at the EU level is in the same state of flux as the European Union itself. This leads to opportunities for new interest groups and challenges for existing ones.

Established European federations founded decades ago when the Union had little power, now find that they have rules, procedures and staff that are ill adapted to the new, higher stakes.

Often, national associations balk at shifting advocacy resources to the EU level.

Pan-european mergers and acquisitions are changing the relative weight of companies and challenging the very concept of national trade associations as the core membership of European trade federations.

EU enlargement and the emergence of new industries and services change the balance of power inside business sectors.

MacBrien Cuper Isnard's role

MacBrien Cuper Isnard advises and assists in creating new European trade federations and improving the performance of existing ones.

1. If a client wishes to create a European trade federation, we can help

  • establish a European Trade Federation, in which case we can set it up from scratch (all aspects: legal, financial, infrastructure, personnel, etc.), and assist in running it.

2. If a client wishes to improve the performance of a European trade federation, we can help devise and implement a strategy for reform:

  • We work with our client to get a picture of the industry's EU advocacy needs and of the problems of the European federation.
  • Together, we then elaborate a plan for reorganising the federation: working procedures and advocacy methods, Brussels staff, language regime, chain of command, voting procedures, membership structure (national trade associations and/or individual company direct membership) and finances.
  • We advise and assist in improving advocacy technique and adapting advocacy campaigns to each of the European Institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament, etc.).
  • Because of the nature of the EU, much power lies with the national capitals and in the hands of Members of the European Parliament who are highly receptive to national interests. Much EU advocacy must therefore be done through national channels by the European trade federation's national members. Our firm has considerable experience in getting Brussels Secretariat and national members to work together effectively.
  • Success at the core activity (producing satisfactory EU rules) is of little use if the core membership doesn't know about it or value it. In particular, lack of appreciation can make financing very difficult. We make proposals to ensure that indirect members, for instance individual company members of a national trade association, know about their European federation and the European work of their national association and value them.