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And I believe that we are live. Good morning to everyone joining us from the US and good afternoon to those joining us from Europe. And a special welcome to those who have already joined us in Wonk Week sessions yesterday. We are very happy to see you coming back for more. My name is Nia and I'm part of the customer success team at Quorum's EU Branch situated in Brussels, Belgium, which is also where I'm joining you from today. I will tell you a bit more about our session today, as well as give the floor to our speakers shortly. But first, we'll like to waste just a couple of minutes to give everyone the opportunity to log on, give a little extra time to those who might still be waiting on their coffee to be done. We know this is a bit of an early start for some of you, and while we do that, we wanted to offer you a little icebreaker to pass the time and get everyone going. Nia Chigogidze (00:00:57): And with staying with the theme of today's discussion on differences in approaches across the Atlantic. The question we would like to ask you is, which condiment do you prefer with your fries, ketchup, or mayonnaise? Uh, seemingly innocent question, but possibly a very controversial one. So please feel free to jot down your response in the chat window, which should be located on the right-hand side of your screen under a little chat icon. As a heads up, we will also be using the chat function for the q and a portion of the session a bit later on. So I would encourage you to already try to make yourself a little familiar with it. And, alright, while we wait for the responses to come in, draw, Nick, I would also be interested in hearing what your takes, your take is on this. Nick DeSarno (00:01:47): Oh, neither. I don't like ketchup or mayo <laugh> Nia Chigogidze (00:01:52): Controversial answer there. Nick DeSarno (00:01:53): Yeah. Joao Sousa (00:01:55): Yeah. I'm very Belgian, uh, at this point in time, so I would definitely go for mayonnaise. Nia Chigogidze (00:02:01): Yeah. All right. We have some responses coming in. Oh, and it looks like a lot of people are showing support for mixing both of them together and finding an interim solution. We should keep this in the back of my mind. This might come in as a great metaphor for our discussion at some point later on. Price. Good. Belgium, is even worse, I would say Nick DeSarno (00:02:26): I do smuggle in Chick-fil-A sauce from America from my fries, so I have that shipped, literally shipped in. So, Nia Chigogidze (00:02:36): Wow. The struggles of living. Nick DeSarno (00:02:39): Exactly. Nia Chigogidze (00:02:43): This seems to be a very inclusive crowd. We have very open-minded, which should be very good for the discussion going forward. Nick DeSarno (00:02:52): Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Nia Chigogidze (00:02:53): Any other points? Joao Sousa (00:02:55): This, this, this is the most, uh, perhaps, uh, tense question you will ask during this session. Nia Chigogidze (00:03:01): Probably. It definitely could be, but I feel like a lot of people before they come here don't even realize the possibility that mayo is an option. I think that was also the case for me. Nick DeSarno (00:03:12): That's funny. Yes, It's the condiments, even at like McDonald's are different in Europe than they are in the US. So you go, you can go and think you're gonna get one thing and you're gonna get something completely different. Nia Chigogidze (00:03:25): And a lot of controversy, apparently, having to pay for condiments in McDonald's from the US colleagues is something that I also hear a lot. Yep. So, so far it's been pretty 50-50, so we'll see maybe more responses continue to come in and we can declare a winner at the, towards the very end. But for now, I think see that a few more people have joined in, hopefully with copies at hand. So I think we can now circle back to our topic of discussion, uh, which is, it doesn't work like that in Brussels. If you're in EU affairs, you've likely said that's your US colleagues, or if you're lobbying in the US, you've probably been on the receiving end of that sentence, which leaves you wondering why Brussels is so different apart from course putting mayo on fries, <laugh>. So it's time for the cities to go head to head. What do you first professionals wish their counterparts on the hill understood about Brussels and what could they both learn from each other? Joining us today to explore this topic, our Nick de Sarno, Director of Digital and Policy communications with Public Affairs Council and Joao Sousa, managing director of the European Office of the Public Affairs Council. I will let them tell you more about their accolades and experience as well as their initial thoughts on the topic themselves in their opening remarks. So with no further dua, would you like to start us off? Joao Sousa (00:04:44): Sure. Thanks, Nia. Thanks to Quorum for the invitation. Thanks to, uh, everyone who is attending who shares their thoughts on probably the most controversial question about European politics. Everything else is relatively straightforward but this one is a really tricky one. As Nia mentioned, my name is Joao Sousa. I manage the Public Affairs Councils European office as well as our international practice which puts me in an interesting position of being a little bit between the two continents, which is, I think, really fascinating, because I get to be in contact with bright minds from both sides of the pond. The Public Affairs Council, for those of you who don't know us is a global association, for public affairs professionals. We have around 700 members plus globally from Fortune 500 companies to associations in Europe and the US, to consulting firms. Joao Sousa (00:05:51): Um, and we provide executive education and peer-to-peer discussions and networking opportunities for, uh, for, for those companies and for their staff, which is, uh, upwards of 10,000 people globally. Um, so, uh, that, that's a bit about me, bit about the council. Uh, before I was in a council, I joined four years ago, I was working with European Union, uh, and I was a consultant in places as diverse as, as Brussels, uh, as, uh, Bucharest in Romania cause of Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ha right next door, Portugal. Uh, so quite, quite a bit of traveling there. Um, and now I settled in Brussels, which is, uh, the city of, of the great weather. Um, so, uh, so that's, that's, uh, a little bit about me. Over to you. Nia Chigogidze (00:06:48): Over to you, Nick. Nick DeSarno (00:06:49): Awesome. Again, big thanks, uh, to me and to Quorum for inviting us. I'm Nick DeSarno and I work normally in our DC office for the Public Affairs Council. I'm actually located in London. I've lived in the UK for the last three years. So I kind of have a little bit of experience both with US politics, and now in the EU. Nick DeSarno (00:07:20): Three levels of government I worked in—for a mayor, a state senator, and a US congressman. So kind of gave me a lot of breadth in understanding how the political system works, and how the legislative system works. I worked in legislative offices as well. Um, so, you know, just kind of thinking about this question is something that we get asked a lot about, mainly from the US perspective of we are a large company based in the US. We're starting to do business more and more in Europe. You know, do we need an office in Brussels? Do we need, you know, what, what does that look like? How is it different? However, more and more as you know, our, you know, two continents become more united, especially recently over the war in Ukraine. A lot of European companies also want to understand how the US works and oftentimes will create offices or a US government relations function. It's obviously very different. I think is, you know, better or more easier to work with. But they all have their kind of unique differences and strategies, tactics that you can use, which is something that I really find interesting. And I'm always curious to see what might work that we do in the US or what might work in the EU or, or vice versa. What are they doing really well in the EU that we could maybe take and, and modify for a US audience. Nia Chigogidze (00:08:55): Thank you for that. So as I'm saying, as you said, there are definitely good practices to learn from on both sides of the pond, but before those, those practices can be shared, I think a lot comes to gauging expectations on initial greeting and initial interaction. So maybe to start off from that, maybe from a European perspective, and then maybe we'll, and we'll move on to the US one shortly. A question I have for Israel, what are some of the biggest miscon misconceptions that US public affairs teams tend to have when they arrive in Brussels? Try to establish a more so EU presence, and are there any of these misconceptions, in particular, that stand out to your mind that can lead to real no-nos when it comes to lobbying in Europe? Joao Sousa (00:09:41): Yeah. That's a very good question. And, yes, a question that we get a lot from US companies that are interested in doing public affairs in Europe and setting up teams here and interested in, you know getting in the European market, but also realizing the importance of the EU as a policy trends setter, the so-called Brussels effect. It's, it's something that is increasingly recognized. And companies are realizing that if you wanna be ahead of the game on things like sustainability, on things like energy efficiency on climate change, the green package, the green deal, Brussels is really a place where you need to be and, and you need to have a strong presence. So to your question about misconceptions, I think perhaps one of the main misconceptions is that Brussels is like Washington DC and this is going away more and more, but certainly the two cities are very, very different animals. Joao Sousa (00:10:58): There are two very big, you know, large public affairs capitals globally but they function in very different ways. Of course, the institutional setup is very different. Brussels is a very technical city. It is becoming more and more political, and perhaps we're gonna get to this at a later stage, but it's still a very technical city. It's still pumping legislation very, very actively. So you need, as a, you know, as a public affairs team that comes from, from, let's say a Washington or US background, you need to understand that Brussels is a more technical city. You need to understand that you need to get in the game early on and you cannot mistake, access with influence. That's, that's a saying that I heard a couple of years ago. Joao Sousa (00:11:55): That sometimes especially US companies sometimes confuse access with influence, but it's not the same thing. You can have access to the EU commissioner,  to the political appointee,  but it does not mean that, you know, that access is going to translate and you actually influencing the policy-making process, because oftentimes in Brussels, the policy-making process is being stirred on a daily basis by the policy officer that, that has that desk on his, or that file on his or her desk. So I think that's, that's one, one important misconception. And perhaps the other one that I would mention here and goes to a similar point, is the fact that Europe is made up, not just of Brussels, which is indeed the policy hub, but also of 27 capitals. And those capitals are really the political masters of the European Union. Joao Sousa (00:12:56): So you know, what happens in Berlin, what happens in Rome, in, I was gonna say London, but I won't say London anymore. What happens in Paris and in Scandinavian capitals that is really the political, the political direction that the European Union is taking, decided at the European Council, and decided in everyday political life within those capitals. And that's important for international companies, for us companies to beware. It does not mean that you have, that you're gonna have teams in every single capital. Of course, you can use your Brussels office as a hub in Europe, and then figure out according to your needs and resources, how you're going to follow the capitals. But it is important to be aware that member states have a very big weight in the way he does this politics and that legislation. Nia Chigogidze (00:13:50): Thank you. Nick, would you like to elaborate a little bit based on your experience from the US perspective or have been dealing with lobbying for US actors in particular when it comes to this focus of technical versus more political and of access as an equal influence, or even through maybe how the understanding of the influence of member state's level translates? Nick DeSarno (00:14:16): Yeah, I think it's obviously very complex, right? Because in the US we have this federated kind of system and there is something similar obviously going on in the EU, but it's just vastly different. So some of the levers that you would push in, you know, in, in DC or in state capitals, even in the US you just don't have those options in Brussels or in some of those state capital or some of the country capitals. I would also say that o overall, you know,  I think DC is becoming less political in a lot of ways. You know, that is obviously it's still very divisive, but I think people overstate sometimes how political the US is. But it is remarkably different when we go to, to Brussels. And so you know, there are definitely bureaucrats and a whole institution, a lot of, you know, usually it's very staff heavy. Nick DeSarno (00:15:16): When you go to go to Brussels, those people have usually several degrees <laugh>, you know, they're highly educated Europeans, they speak, you know, several languages. Almost everyone in Brussels makes me look,  foolish. And so it can kind of be intimidating to come in there, especially if you are from American company and say, you know, we really think this is the policy that would, you know, be the most effective to make, you know, Europe competitive. Those types of things are sometimes really difficult. And so they have to lean on, you know, their European partners. I would say that some of the misconceptions that we get off often are that it's really slow in the EU and obviously the US has also been currently pretty slow. States move very quickly still, in the US in comparison. Nick DeSarno (00:16:12): I think that's also changing. When you look at how big the issues are that the EU is tackling, they're not necessarily tackling, you know, things that would be dealt upon, you know, at a country level, a member state level. They're dealing with like some massive issues like climate change, you know, that, that are going to take years to, you know, finalize in terms of policy. And so I think if you look in that perspective you know, it's not actually slow. It's that their issues are just much larger. When we look at antitrust that they're dealing with right now, the EU is really leading the world there. They are holding a lot of the tech companies, you know feet to fire right now. Even just something as simple as they're making standard in the EU that iPhone cannot keep changing, you know, what cord they use to charge your iPhone, that is going to have a huge effect. We will probably end up in the US using the same cores that the EU has mandated. Um, so as Joao said, it is often the EU that leads in a lot of these critical issues. And so even if you don't have a huge marketplace there, it might end up really affecting your company in the long run or your association. Nia Chigogidze (00:17:31): And is it, they're a bit of a learning curve or growing pains when it comes for us companies learning to how to lobby and work with more, more larger packages that you say that you was dealing with. And would you have any kind of recommendations or tips on how to manage that transition? Nick DeSarno (00:17:50): And I'll let Joao out speak for the majority of this. Cause he's, he's the expert there, but a hundred percent, there's a lot of great firms that do work in the EU. It is definitely, I would say in the US you would often hire folks based on their relationships, and that is true in the EU as well, but, more so on their expertise and the ability to be seen as credible and authentic as a leader on that policy issue. Whereas often you can hire someone in the US that, you know, just has a previously worked in that, you know, the leadership's office or those types of things. The US is also kind of, I think, changing there, and we are becoming more policy oriented in that respect. People lobbyists are no longer just kind of in the revolving door just coming back in every other, you know, cycle. They are, they are developing issue area expertise more in the US now as well. But I think  that's a remarkable difference of, you know, can you, you really go into that office with credibility, I think is bigger in the EU than the IS. Nia Chigogidze (00:19:02): True. Would you like to expand on that? Joao Sousa (00:19:05): Yeah, sure. I mean, Nick makes some very good points. I do agree that it's when you come to Europe, when you are in Europe, it's, it's certainly a good thing to well, have at least the basic understanding of how the EU machinery works. And we've talked about that here a little bit. The EU is a big ship. So when you're trying to influence the course of a big ship, you need to do so from the early stages of the process. If you try to do that while the ship is, is well in, in high seas, then it's going to be much more difficult. So getting the timing right is definitely important. You know, having a basic understanding of the process and then certainly find your allies, you know,  find people and associations at consulting firms you can work with. Joao Sousa (00:20:07): Nick is very right when he mentioned the importance of not just of networking lobbyists. If, if that name exists, and I did hear it, the name networking lobbyists versus knowledge lobbyists. So for the sake of convenience, let's use that distinction. Even though in practice, the same person can very much have the both characteristics, but in, in Brussels especially,  it's important to have someone or to have a consulting firm, or more than one. Actually, you see many us companies in Brussels who have more than one consulting firm helping them in, in different ways. It's definitely a good thing to have kind of technical expertise just because the output is just so large. It's really a full-time thing. Perhaps. Another point that I would add is that you know, think not just in terms of consulting firms, but also in terms of associations, and you know, this, I would say that it's almost cultural in Europe and in many countries, associations are actually part of thee countries ecosystem you know, association syndicates in places like Germany or like France  or many other countries. Joao Sousa (00:21:32): These organizations are really, really powerful. So working with industry associations or trade associations, whether you're in tech or in pharma or whatever your sector chemicals, whatever your sector might be, there are most likely more than one association that you can, you know, be members of, be active in. And that usually, I say usually, not always, but usually encounters a favorable year from the European institutions because they will, they will have the perception, oftentimes right, that they are speaking to the industry and not to the interests of one specific organization. So whenever possible think in terms of coalitions, think in terms of partnerships, and  I think you'll find that the most successful companies do that. <affirmative> Nick DeSarno (00:22:27): A hundred percent. I think it's very hard for an individual company in the EU to make a huge impact on a piece of legislation or policy. It's much easier for associations, and they're viewed very differently, like Joel mentioned. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, our associations can be viewed as fairly political, where it's almost like in, in the Europe sense like those associations are like, think tanks would be in the US slightly, you know, more impartial than, than just representing, you know, a, a smaller, you know, sector of an industry position. Nia Chigogidze (00:23:02): Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and Nick, I wanted to get to you with my next question. In terms, Joao just outlined to us, and as well, you agreed some great practices of terms of things should be kept top of mind when approaching public affairs in the EU and mostly importance of partnerships, whether it's with consultants and associations. In a similar vein, what are some of the key aspects that you say that European companies need to be aware of when trying to lobby successfully in DC? So the opposite side of the coin? Nick DeSarno (00:23:32): Yeah, and I'm gonna take it the chance to, I saw a question come in about, you know, can you explain why you believe the US is perceived as less political? I think, you know, often Europeans view the US as so political cuz that's the knowledge that, you know, that's the information that they're getting, that they think that they can kind of come over, maybe launch a political action committee, write a bunch of checks to politicians, and then their policy issues solved. It, it does not work like that. You know, while companies do have the ability to participate through their employee donations in corporate PACs, you know, it's a not a lot of money in comparison to what these politicians are raising, either online or through other aspects like party fundraising. Companies probably before Citizens United actually had more power. Nick DeSarno (00:24:25): Often people say Citizens United gave, companies the right to write unlimited checks to politicians. That is not true. Most companies do not do that. Almost all companies in the Fortune 500 have a prohibition in their own laws, bylaws that say that they can't do that. It's also less political in a lot of ways. You know, policy is actually getting done. You know, in the Biden administration specifically, we've had some really big pieces of legislation go through in the last even eight months I would say, that are, that are really instrumental to changing the way that the economy and the levers of government are going to work for people. And that is also true even when it was the height of kind of polarization in the, in the Trump administration policy still still went through. Nick DeSarno (00:25:16): It often now comes in large packages. It does not come in in piecemeal legislation, how it should. So you're often dealing with potentially 15, 20 issues at once. And I think that's very difficult to get from a European perspective. You might actually even be, this happens all the time. You might be for a bill as an organization for a piece of legislation as an organization, and then it gets added to another piece of legislation that you do not like that often happens cuz they try to make things must pass. They try to put legislation together with things that other people don't want, so that the industry is kind of on their back heels when they, when they go to talk about that issue, things like that. Or they change it as an amendment. So I think for folks that are looking to just get started in the, in the US they have to realize that it's, it can be incredibly kind of complex. Nick DeSarno (00:26:10): It can be very fast moving in certain times. It can be, you know, there are still, there's a lot of staff that work for individual members of Congress. It's not in the MEPs do not have a lot of individual staff. Um, you know, most members of Congress have 20 and then, you know, US senators have 50 to 75, that is a lot of staff. Um, so staff can drive the day, um, on Capitol Hills, you know, on the state level it's a little bit harder. Um, yeah, I think sometimes we, we overstate how that localized be Harrison to Europe and I don't know always that it's always the right, you know, um, perception there. Cause Europe is also fairly polarized, especially the country that I'm currently living in. Nia Chigogidze (00:27:00): Okay. Great. Thanks. What of all those aspects just described kind of by Nick and anything else that might come to your mind based on your personal experience, what American approaches do you believe public effect Europeans could emulate and actually learn from? Joao Sousa (00:27:54): Yeah. A lot of things and vice versa. I think you have you know, you have, really great ideas and outstanding professionals, so many on both sides of the pond. and, you know, I what I see usually is, as with so many things, not just in public affairs, is that,  you know, good practice is born out of necessity, right? The challenges, the big challenges, the political challenges facing Europe and the US at this point are actually quite similar. We had the Brussels Public Affairs Forum happening last week, I wanna say, or two weeks ago already and we had a panel on transatlantic best practices on public affairs. And one of the conclusions of that discussion was precisely, you know,  how companies on both sides of the Atlantic are facing very similar challenges. Joao Sousa (00:28:59): You know, it was the Covid-19 pandemic and the, you know, the restrictions, the future of work. What does that mean for our staff? What does that mean for the way we engage with policymakers? Things are going more and more virtually in Europe, and I think in the US as well, at least that's what our council surveys are showing us virtual public affairs is much more used than it was before. And people are expecting it to continue. So you have that, you have obviously here in Europe and, but I think in the US as well you know, the whole topic around sustainability and climate change and energy security. The war in Ukraine is obviously big both in Brussels and the European capitals. Joao Sousa (00:29:49): Um, and, and there's a, I think a, a global overall, let's say, a geopolitical shift in the way Europe and the US are interacting with the rest of the world and the rest of you know, other countries that are sometimes partners, sometimes competitors. And so that is really changing. So, what I think is happening is at a tactical level,  public affairs professionals are having to adapt to the different institutional setups,  that are indeed very different between Brussels and the US. One thing that I have found over and over again that European, professionals and I really admire about public affairs teams in the US is that broadly speaking,  people really understand how to measure the impact of public affairs and how to grasp that impact in numbers in dollars and cents. Joao Sousa (00:30:59): Uh, it's, you know, measurement, measuring and communicating internally, the value of, of, of your function of the public affairs function, uh, is, is, is about the question I get more often in my job here in the European office and, and I see that in the US  there is a very good grasp of, you know, how to measure this impact, how to quantify this, how do I think about the public affairs impact in business terms, and how can I communicate that in business terms to the other departments or to senior leadership. So I think that's, that's one thing that is, is really interesting and, and certainly a practice that in the US I think many people have really grasped. Nia Chigogidze (00:31:52): Interesting. If it really, maybe we can, hopefully we can discuss it further when we go to the Q and A. And speaking of the Q and A, I wanted to encourage everyone, we already have a few questions in the Q and A, but after this following question, we'll be taking all the questions from the floor. So I would really encourage everyone to start posting them either in chat or the Q and A. If you wanna make them anonymous, you can post them in the Q and A. If not, you can also use the chat, live chat. We'll be monitoring both. But,  from a final question for me, and it's for both of you, Nick and Joao, speaking about different approaches and work works in the US, I wanted to ask you about grassroots and advocacy, why it works so well in the US why it doesn't work in the EU, and if your thoughts and predictions whether the kind of differences are, the current adaptation processes that are going on at both sides to fit with this geopolitical shifts we've just been discussing can predict any new developments in this area. Nick DeSarno (00:32:51): Yeah, it's interesting. Um, I, I don't like the, um, I, I don't love the approach. Some, you know, organizations take where they view kind of grassroots as just a, as a tool, um, you know, to, to be, to be launched, you know, when the lobbyist kind of needs it. I, I think it's a lot of companies and associations and advocacy groups. It can be really a worthwhile program that sometimes is the leading part of it. And the lobbyists are, are more actually in a support role. That's kinda the organization that I previously worked for, took that approach is really leverage the the members, the employees, those types of things. It obviously works really well in the United States. There are tons of studies that you can look at there about the effectiveness. When you ask members of Congress, who is the most, you know, influential when you're undecided on a position? It is, you know, the most influential stuff is hearing from their constituents. I'll say a couple things. A state and federal and local all actually have a process to manage the influx of grassroots incoming emails, calls, all of those types of things, Nick DeSarno (00:34:21): You know, they have people who take down those issues, who get back to folks who reached out. They have a whole process and online system for gathering signatures, et cetera. While petitions are fairly common in the EU  for different issues there, like you said, there isn't a ton of grassroots that happens near comparison. Part of that is people do not know who their MEP is. They have essentially, I don't know if you know who your MEP is. Most literally, most people don't. I don't think I've ever met someone that actually knew by name, who their MEP is, right? So the chance of you contacting that individual is probably rare. Even when you look at a lot of states, it's difficult, you know, sometimes because it's a parliamentary system, it is difficult to even know who your direct politician is. Nick DeSarno (00:35:14): So that's a big thing. They don't have the infrastructure to respond. A lot of times you are emailing just their inbox and they don't like that. And then I do think that they do things more, not deliberate, but there's less touch points for grassroots to occur in the way that the policy system is written in the US, there are a lot of different kinds of avenues and in-points where you really want to show that you have the constituent support there. And there's a, you know, from, you know, we do constituent work weeks when they go back into, uh, the district, those are times where you wanna show your influence and the member of Congress or, or senator is back in the home district. Those are types of things, um, that allow for a lot of close interaction. Uh, it is much harder here, and a lot of what you do see, uh, in terms of grassroots, are only from very large companies that have kind of facing, are facing like existential threats. So the Googles of the world that had faced previously, um, a pretty large threat from the EU, and I don't know how successful those efforts have really been. Joao Sousa (00:36:35): I agree. Nick spoke a bit about the EU as well, and I think it was he was absolutely right when he spoke about the limitations for that, for grassroots to happen in the EU. I think we are still waiting to see creative ideas of how to you know, how to do grassroots at the European level. I would love to see those ideas and to actually have those ideas you know, actually materialize. There are barriers to that, of course. Most obviously language is a barrier. You know, let's, let's not forget that 70 years ago, uh, Europe was at war with each other. These countries, these 27 countries were at war with each other, or some of them didn't exist, and were part of other countries. Joao Sousa (00:37:40): Um, they did not, of course, speak the same language. There was a very, very diverse, uh, political, cultural, economic. It was, it was as diverse as it can be. So this is where we are coming from in the European Union, and the European Union has gone a long way. But I think to get there, to get to the sort of the grassroots movement that, that exists in the US, I think that the institutional barriers that, that exist are still important,  and, you know, you have certain parts of Europe, which doesn't even believe in Europe. Euros skeptic don't want the European Union to actually exist. So that's going to make it obviously more difficult to mobilize people on in, in different European countries. Joao Sousa (00:38:41): There is this initiative you might, you might know about it, called the European Citizens Initiative. It allows, you know, it allows petitions to be submitted to the European Commission, and the European Commission is then, you know, obliged to consider them,  consider them and not necessarily act on them, but consider them. But there are restrictions, or there are constraints. The petition needs to have more than 1 million signatures. It has to have a minimum number of signatures from at least seven European countries with obviously different languages and cultures and et cetera. And it has to fall under the EU competencies, which is also an important question, which not many people know. For many people, their own national governments are still the first and only entry point to politics. Joao Sousa (00:39:39): So there are obstacles. Um, but I think it's certainly, you know, as we have more Europe, and I do believe that more we will have more Europe rather than less, people are going to be more and more aware of that. And they're going to realize, for example, in issues like tech that, that Nick was mentioning, people are going to be more and more aware that this is something that affects European consumer from across the spectrum of languages and cultures and nationalities. And there are more, um, there is more potential for mobilization. Nick DeSarno (00:40:14): To just add a point that Joao was making. I think the idea of those petitions is, you know, that are happening is kind of a reflection that Europe needed to be better at listening to folks. There were the was the yellow vest protests in Brussels the last time I was there, and a lot of it was about like, I don't feel like my voice is being heard in, in, in the EU. I feel like I don't have, you know, say in that this is such a bureaucratic process and I don't understand it, and I'm confused. And so I think on a number of areas,  the EU has invested in reaching out much more heavily on communication campaigns of various topics, including the importance of the EU itself. And by soliciting, you know, feedback, obviously you have similar issues in the US when we had January 6th, where there were people that, you know, felt that their voice maybe wasn't being heard. Nick DeSarno (00:41:19): Obviously, you know, it contributed to it, essentially a terrorist attack in DC. So, you know, it obviously is still there, even when you have the ability to reach out to your legislators in those like that are very easy in the US. But, I think when you don't have it, it can even occur more often, I think when you have those kinds of safety vows of like, I feel like my voice is at least being heard, someone got back to me and said, Thank you for sharing your opinion. More EU legislators and bureaucrats are on like LinkedIn and different things like that. So they are engaging with folks on social media as well. Nia Chigogidze (00:41:56): I think it's safe to say that we're a little skeptical about the future of grassroots and in the EU, even though we all seem to agree about the importance of developing more stable feedback channels with citizens, which, and of course, in itself is a bit of a contradiction. It would be interesting to discuss further, But in the interest of time, we've also had a lot of questions come in, so I would maybe switch to addressing them. And, um, one of the first questions is addressed towards usual, but make, please filter, chime in. So can you talk about how EU countries work together to advocate for policy priorities because the needs of countries are quite different from the needs of specific states? Joao Sousa (00:42:39): If I had the answer to that question I would probably have a much larger bank account. You know,  this is really one of the, one of the big questions here in Europe, and, and you know, the European Union. The European Union is, as I see it at least, is a negotiation machine. It's a machine that was created for people to talk and discuss, for countries to come together and have a forum to actually make decisions. That's why in the beginning of the institutions themselves, when the European Union was born, you've had many decisions that were expected to be taken by anonymity. We are growing, going further and further away from that as the European Union grows. Joao Sousa (00:43:36): As you know, reaching unanimity is perhaps, a realistic possibility with six or 12 members. It's virtually impossible with 27. So, the spirit of the institution or the institutions is still the same, which is to negotiate is the process of give and take. And this is really how it works. You may have countries that are particularly favorable to a certain direction of policies. Some countries that are, you know, perhaps more interested in free trades such as the UK when it was in the European unions such as the Netherlands, the UK has gone free trade, uh, uh, defenders now have one ally less, but others, other countries sometimes feel avoid countries in this, in central and eastern part of Europe. They favor a certain position when it comes to energy security, when it comes to defense, uh, when it comes to, you know, the response to the war in Ukraine, countries in the south and the west have a different opinion. Joao Sousa (00:44:42): Uh, so it's all a question of give and take. It's obviously a complex process, you know, formally all the countries come together in the European councils,  which happen, a few times per year. That's when all the governments come together. Those are sort of the big strategic decisions. And then, you know, in the background, away from the —you have capitals working with each other and with Brussels to actually hammer out a lot of the, you know, the daily legislative and policymaking work. But, you know, it's, it's a complicated process. It's above all a negotiation process of give and take. Nick DeSarno (00:45:30): I think important part of that is also sometimes it, it's like what Joo said is about being early in the EU is really important, I think, because these are such monumental kind of like almost diplomatic discussions. So it's hard to kind of constantly go back or remove something once so many parties have agreed to it. Where in the US it's like in, you know, once an issue is passed, there's always kind of some, some way to, to change it. That if you're a really good lobbyist, kind of an issue is never dead in America. Where in the EU, you know, if you 27 countries do agree to something at the end of the day, cause a lot of them have, you know, some, a lot of issues have veto power over some of the, you know, some of the big remaining issues. Joao Sousa (00:46:27): Think we lost you for a second. Nia Chigogidze (00:46:29): Yeah, sorry, Nick. I think we lost you for a sec. But I think the essence was that the bureaucratic red tape is always thick, but in some places it's a bit thicker. But, moving on to the next question, and feel free,  either of you can take this one. But, and I think Nick already touched upon this a little bit, but perhaps we could expand on it, as the US is exploring issues like antitrust, but it seems like the voices are, our corporations are very heavily involved, rather than just policy experts leading the conversation. Do companies have the same weight in the EU? And I think we did discuss this when we were talking about in terms of coalition and associations versus individual companies, but when you have any additional insights to share? Nick DeSarno (00:47:13): Yeah, I would say, Joao Sousa (00:47:16): Go ahead. Nick DeSarno (00:47:16): My perspective is that, they obviously don't have as much weight if you wanna be completely honest. It is definitely the result that you would expect in terms of how successful you are at influencing policy in the US. If you work at a company, the bar is much higher there, I think, internally at most companies than it is in the EU because the EU is so insulated from political pressure, from influence from companies in a lot of ways. That can be a good thing and it can be a real bad thing because if the issue is something that is potentially really complex or there's something that there is, you know, some populism around, you know, the wrong policy or less preferred policy can obviously kind of continue to fester in the EU maybe a little bit longer than it would in the US. Nick DeSarno (00:48:18): Um, think tanks have a lot more say, I think in the EU, in Brussels than they do in the US. Like, people think about think tanks a little bit in the US but they're not nearly as, as, as strong as they are, um, in the EU. And I think, uh, scholarship and academics, um, come in a lot more in the EU than it does in the, in the US. So having a white paper, having those types of really serious, hard hitting data and background is much more, I think, impressive that, that's kind of what I've seen as, as, as like the route. And so it definitely is obviously a little bit more wonkish. Joao Sousa (00:49:03): You know, I think Nick is rightand made some, some good points. I will say this though, while I do agree that, companies in the EU probably don't have the same weight, don't carry the same weight as they do in the US, I will say that, you know, having a more and more political European Commission or European Union also means that the institutions are becoming more and more aware that they won't be able to pull off something like the green deal. And they won't be able to, you know, address such a monumental, to file like sustainability and, and climate change without the support of business. So business really has to be on board. The companies really need to be on board in order for these things so that these things can happen. Joao Sousa (00:50:02): And these are really the big files in town. This is really what the key things that the EU is looking at today and for the future. And so I think there is this an increasing awareness that without business, uh, these files won't, won't really move, move forward. I do think, and again, Nick stole my words when he mentioned the associations. And I think this, there is a, a question also about, you know, how, um, how American companies can work with their European counterparts. I think this, this, uh, to a good extent answers that question as well, working through associations, uh, and there are associations that have, not just European, but in international membership. Um, and so it's a matter of you identifying which are the associations that are relevant to your industry, uh, and then, and then working through those associations, having a leading role. People always say that, uh, I'll always tell me that especially, uh, you know, leaders of associations themselves, they, they, they share with me that it's really important when companies, uh, assume a, a proactive role within the organization, the association, and they will then be able to take much more out of it, out of that membership. So definitely a difference, which you can certainly leverage as an opportunity if you do things and if you do things right, if you approach things from the partnership and coalition building perspective. Nia Chigogidze (00:51:38): Nick just addressed this briefly, but maybe you could expand on the second question he was referring to, and if you have any examples of companies working well with their US counterparts to achieve the same policy goals and how they are doing it? Nick DeSarno (00:51:53): Yeah, that's a good question. There are a lot of them. I'd say, you know, the companies that have a global public policy team are often the ones that can do this the best. So meaning that they, you know, you might have your kind of more relationship style lobbyists in a company, but then you will have a lot of big companies will have, you know, a policy team as well that's separate, that just handles regulatory and policy structure. When they are done in a global way where that policy is uniform across and that the policy experts will really understand, across the world where these different issues sit at a given time, I think that can be really impactful versus you know, kind of in one country lobbying for one thing and a different country, lobbying for slightly something slightly different cuz you think you can get away with a little bit more. Nick DeSarno (00:52:47): Those things,  that style of lobbying is kind of going away. I would also say it's really important to realize that the realization that, you know, Europe is not as fast-growing as the US and the large companies that have done successfully, you know, grown in the US are not necessarily European companies. You know, you have a lot of tech that's in the US you don't have as many tech companies in the EU. I'm talking about real big Fortune 500 companies. There's been a shift to a little bit more of a US-centric approach when it was fairly even maybe 25, 35 years ago. Um, so it's important that if you are a big US company that's based there, even if you have a ton of dealings in Europe that you show up and you say, Okay, this is how we're really impacting EU, this is how we're helping, you know, grow EU jobs, those types of things. Because sometimes I think that, that those companies, the US-based companies can look almost like enemies, you know, Oh, they're gonna, this us company is doing really, really well and they're gonna kick our, our country's, uh, version of that, you know, company out of business. Uh, it's often not the case. Um, and so sometimes US companies can be demonized a little bit, um, in the EU they need to kind of come with that perspective. And I think sometimes they don't realize that when they're walking in the door. Nia Chigogidze (00:54:17): I think we have time to take one more question, and we have one that just recently came in. If you were to try an American-style lobby day in Brussels, what would work and what wouldn't work when compared to the efforts of those organizations in Washington? I think this is quite a big large-scale picture, but maybe you can take it as an opportunity to kind of summarize the key takeaways from this session of what would be something that would be, you would give as advice to your American colleague of one thing to learn from Brussels and one thing to avoid in Brussels. Joao Sousa (00:54:56): Yeah. I can go ahead. That, that's a very good idea, Mike. We might try it. Thanks for the idea. How it would work, I don't know. I think one of the things we would see is bigger budgets. I think, you know, Europeans would not complain. European lobbyists would probably not complain about that. On a more serious note, how it would look like, I think, you know, perhaps picking up on that grassroots,  conversation we were having just now,  I think you might see, you know, a bigger conversation around how specific policies and legislation impact specific communities impact constituents of you know, different members of the European Parliament. If it is to the European Parliament that you would be talking to I think you could, you could see possibly, you know, campaigns being run, not just in Brussels, but also in other member states as well with, uh, you know,  in the different diversity of, of languages that makes up the European Union, you know, same campaign or a similar campaign, in France and other in Germany, another in Italy. Joao Sousa (00:56:25): Taking into account the different perspectives and the different context of people in different countries. So if I would have to, to, to take a wild, a wild guess at how that they would look like,  I, I think these would be, these would be my first ideas. But maybe Nick, you're feeling more creative. Nick DeSarno (00:56:49): Well, I do think that I, I think the EU loves like, thought leadership events and there are a lot of those,  where, you know, it's a politician and a reporter maybe from a news organization on stage in front of a group of folks talking about a specific issue and, and panels like that. And I think you could set them up as companies to then, you know, have a smaller, more intimate round table discussion after that in a very practical sense. But I think, you know, something that Joao mentioned is, you know, you have all these folks that are coming that are, that are in Brussels, that are coming from their countries. They have so many pressures back home, whether that's like leadership,  most folks you know right now don't love getting the Brussels assignment <laugh>. And so, you know,  cuz sometimes can be hard to transition out of that,  to, to, you know, hire office as like the, you know, president or, something like that in their country. Nick DeSarno (00:57:48): So, you know, working inside those countries, like Joao said, to really make sure that you can, you have a really solid connection there that whoever you're bringing to the fly-in, to the lobby day is really rooted in that kind of understanding of, okay, this is where this person's coming from, this is the person we need to influence. This is how I fit into that picture. That's very difficult to kind of do if you don't have a large footprint, if you're not in, you know, all these countries. And I think that that's part of it, That's part of it. There's a lot of big companies operate with smaller footprints in, in some of these smaller European states. Nia Chigogidze (00:58:30): Just about time, but I would still like to give both the opportunity, to say a few closing words, any key takeaways or any summaries, or any other additional comments you would like to make. Nick DeSarno (00:58:43): You know, I just like to thank everyone for joining us and you know, it's not as hard as one would think to get involved, whether you're a European trying to get involved in the US or, or vice versa. You know, if we can be of help, this is something that I got, I got a question the other day, that's a Brussel's resources. We need resources to know how to deal. So Joao, you're gonna get a member request from me. But it's something that occurs every day because these two continents are actually becoming a lot closer, which is a, it's a good thing to see. We're seeing this kind of Russia, China access, it's only pushing us, closer together and, so I think there's going to be a lot of room for collaboration in the future. Joao Sousa (00:59:26): Yeah, no, absolutely. I agree. I mean, this is this you know, transatlantic good ideas are at the heart of what we do at the Council. So I think this is certainly one of our favorite topics. So,  thanks to Nia and to Quorum for the invitation and to everybody who joined. There are many good practices. There are many differences, tactical differences between the way public affairs is done in Europe, in the US from the political slash strategic standpoint. You know the broad picture. I actually think there are a lot of similarities. So, I would encourage you to, you know, reach out to your European counterpart, see what they're doing,  trying to get some tips and lessons learned, and try to figure out ways with that, that to your context and to same thing, same advice. Joao Sousa (01:00:21): Cause for the European people attending the session,  one, certainly a very good thing that US, needs to bear in mind, US professionals should bear in mind when they come to Brussels, is that coalition building. You know, work with your allies. Try to figure out who can support you. Together you will go, you will go, I think you will go faster actually. And like the proverb, I think you will go faster and you will go further For Europeans, you know, when you, when you go to the US, perhaps think about this really good practice that, that,  I find the US professionals have, which is measuring and communicating internally the value of your work is not enough to do a good job. It's even, it's equally important to actually communicate that internally and enhance the profile and the reputation of your function, so that you'll have more resources, you have a better larger team and all of that. So a lot of things to learn.     [post_title] => Brussels vs. Washington D.C.: What Works, What Doesn’t, And Why? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => brussels-vs-washington-d-c-what-works-what-doesnt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-10-12 19:38:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-10-12 19:38:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7665 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object_id] => 7665 [request] => SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_name = 'brussels-vs-washington-d-c-what-works-what-doesnt' AND wp_posts.post_type = 'resources' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7665 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2022-10-12 19:37:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-10-12 19:37:58 [post_content] => [embed]https://youtu.be/1azsTD7OdTY[/embed]   Nia Chigogidze (00:00:07): Okay. And I believe that we are live. Good morning to everyone joining us from the US and good afternoon to those joining us from Europe. And a special welcome to those who have already joined us in Wonk Week sessions yesterday. We are very happy to see you coming back for more. My name is Nia and I'm part of the customer success team at Quorum's EU Branch situated in Brussels, Belgium, which is also where I'm joining you from today. I will tell you a bit more about our session today, as well as give the floor to our speakers shortly. But first, we'll like to waste just a couple of minutes to give everyone the opportunity to log on, give a little extra time to those who might still be waiting on their coffee to be done. We know this is a bit of an early start for some of you, and while we do that, we wanted to offer you a little icebreaker to pass the time and get everyone going. Nia Chigogidze (00:00:57): And with staying with the theme of today's discussion on differences in approaches across the Atlantic. The question we would like to ask you is, which condiment do you prefer with your fries, ketchup, or mayonnaise? Uh, seemingly innocent question, but possibly a very controversial one. So please feel free to jot down your response in the chat window, which should be located on the right-hand side of your screen under a little chat icon. As a heads up, we will also be using the chat function for the q and a portion of the session a bit later on. So I would encourage you to already try to make yourself a little familiar with it. And, alright, while we wait for the responses to come in, draw, Nick, I would also be interested in hearing what your takes, your take is on this. Nick DeSarno (00:01:47): Oh, neither. I don't like ketchup or mayo <laugh> Nia Chigogidze (00:01:52): Controversial answer there. Nick DeSarno (00:01:53): Yeah. Joao Sousa (00:01:55): Yeah. I'm very Belgian, uh, at this point in time, so I would definitely go for mayonnaise. Nia Chigogidze (00:02:01): Yeah. All right. We have some responses coming in. Oh, and it looks like a lot of people are showing support for mixing both of them together and finding an interim solution. We should keep this in the back of my mind. This might come in as a great metaphor for our discussion at some point later on. Price. Good. Belgium, is even worse, I would say Nick DeSarno (00:02:26): I do smuggle in Chick-fil-A sauce from America from my fries, so I have that shipped, literally shipped in. So, Nia Chigogidze (00:02:36): Wow. The struggles of living. Nick DeSarno (00:02:39): Exactly. Nia Chigogidze (00:02:43): This seems to be a very inclusive crowd. We have very open-minded, which should be very good for the discussion going forward. Nick DeSarno (00:02:52): Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Nia Chigogidze (00:02:53): Any other points? Joao Sousa (00:02:55): This, this, this is the most, uh, perhaps, uh, tense question you will ask during this session. Nia Chigogidze (00:03:01): Probably. It definitely could be, but I feel like a lot of people before they come here don't even realize the possibility that mayo is an option. I think that was also the case for me. Nick DeSarno (00:03:12): That's funny. Yes, It's the condiments, even at like McDonald's are different in Europe than they are in the US. So you go, you can go and think you're gonna get one thing and you're gonna get something completely different. Nia Chigogidze (00:03:25): And a lot of controversy, apparently, having to pay for condiments in McDonald's from the US colleagues is something that I also hear a lot. Yep. So, so far it's been pretty 50-50, so we'll see maybe more responses continue to come in and we can declare a winner at the, towards the very end. But for now, I think see that a few more people have joined in, hopefully with copies at hand. So I think we can now circle back to our topic of discussion, uh, which is, it doesn't work like that in Brussels. If you're in EU affairs, you've likely said that's your US colleagues, or if you're lobbying in the US, you've probably been on the receiving end of that sentence, which leaves you wondering why Brussels is so different apart from course putting mayo on fries, <laugh>. So it's time for the cities to go head to head. What do you first professionals wish their counterparts on the hill understood about Brussels and what could they both learn from each other? Joining us today to explore this topic, our Nick de Sarno, Director of Digital and Policy communications with Public Affairs Council and Joao Sousa, managing director of the European Office of the Public Affairs Council. I will let them tell you more about their accolades and experience as well as their initial thoughts on the topic themselves in their opening remarks. So with no further dua, would you like to start us off? Joao Sousa (00:04:44): Sure. Thanks, Nia. Thanks to Quorum for the invitation. Thanks to, uh, everyone who is attending who shares their thoughts on probably the most controversial question about European politics. Everything else is relatively straightforward but this one is a really tricky one. As Nia mentioned, my name is Joao Sousa. I manage the Public Affairs Councils European office as well as our international practice which puts me in an interesting position of being a little bit between the two continents, which is, I think, really fascinating, because I get to be in contact with bright minds from both sides of the pond. The Public Affairs Council, for those of you who don't know us is a global association, for public affairs professionals. We have around 700 members plus globally from Fortune 500 companies to associations in Europe and the US, to consulting firms. Joao Sousa (00:05:51): Um, and we provide executive education and peer-to-peer discussions and networking opportunities for, uh, for, for those companies and for their staff, which is, uh, upwards of 10,000 people globally. Um, so, uh, that, that's a bit about me, bit about the council. Uh, before I was in a council, I joined four years ago, I was working with European Union, uh, and I was a consultant in places as diverse as, as Brussels, uh, as, uh, Bucharest in Romania cause of Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ha right next door, Portugal. Uh, so quite, quite a bit of traveling there. Um, and now I settled in Brussels, which is, uh, the city of, of the great weather. Um, so, uh, so that's, that's, uh, a little bit about me. Over to you. Nia Chigogidze (00:06:48): Over to you, Nick. Nick DeSarno (00:06:49): Awesome. Again, big thanks, uh, to me and to Quorum for inviting us. I'm Nick DeSarno and I work normally in our DC office for the Public Affairs Council. I'm actually located in London. I've lived in the UK for the last three years. So I kind of have a little bit of experience both with US politics, and now in the EU. Nick DeSarno (00:07:20): Three levels of government I worked in—for a mayor, a state senator, and a US congressman. So kind of gave me a lot of breadth in understanding how the political system works, and how the legislative system works. I worked in legislative offices as well. Um, so, you know, just kind of thinking about this question is something that we get asked a lot about, mainly from the US perspective of we are a large company based in the US. We're starting to do business more and more in Europe. You know, do we need an office in Brussels? Do we need, you know, what, what does that look like? How is it different? However, more and more as you know, our, you know, two continents become more united, especially recently over the war in Ukraine. A lot of European companies also want to understand how the US works and oftentimes will create offices or a US government relations function. It's obviously very different. I think is, you know, better or more easier to work with. But they all have their kind of unique differences and strategies, tactics that you can use, which is something that I really find interesting. And I'm always curious to see what might work that we do in the US or what might work in the EU or, or vice versa. What are they doing really well in the EU that we could maybe take and, and modify for a US audience. Nia Chigogidze (00:08:55): Thank you for that. So as I'm saying, as you said, there are definitely good practices to learn from on both sides of the pond, but before those, those practices can be shared, I think a lot comes to gauging expectations on initial greeting and initial interaction. So maybe to start off from that, maybe from a European perspective, and then maybe we'll, and we'll move on to the US one shortly. A question I have for Israel, what are some of the biggest miscon misconceptions that US public affairs teams tend to have when they arrive in Brussels? Try to establish a more so EU presence, and are there any of these misconceptions, in particular, that stand out to your mind that can lead to real no-nos when it comes to lobbying in Europe? Joao Sousa (00:09:41): Yeah. That's a very good question. And, yes, a question that we get a lot from US companies that are interested in doing public affairs in Europe and setting up teams here and interested in, you know getting in the European market, but also realizing the importance of the EU as a policy trends setter, the so-called Brussels effect. It's, it's something that is increasingly recognized. And companies are realizing that if you wanna be ahead of the game on things like sustainability, on things like energy efficiency on climate change, the green package, the green deal, Brussels is really a place where you need to be and, and you need to have a strong presence. So to your question about misconceptions, I think perhaps one of the main misconceptions is that Brussels is like Washington DC and this is going away more and more, but certainly the two cities are very, very different animals. Joao Sousa (00:10:58): There are two very big, you know, large public affairs capitals globally but they function in very different ways. Of course, the institutional setup is very different. Brussels is a very technical city. It is becoming more and more political, and perhaps we're gonna get to this at a later stage, but it's still a very technical city. It's still pumping legislation very, very actively. So you need, as a, you know, as a public affairs team that comes from, from, let's say a Washington or US background, you need to understand that Brussels is a more technical city. You need to understand that you need to get in the game early on and you cannot mistake, access with influence. That's, that's a saying that I heard a couple of years ago. Joao Sousa (00:11:55): That sometimes especially US companies sometimes confuse access with influence, but it's not the same thing. You can have access to the EU commissioner,  to the political appointee,  but it does not mean that, you know, that access is going to translate and you actually influencing the policy-making process, because oftentimes in Brussels, the policy-making process is being stirred on a daily basis by the policy officer that, that has that desk on his, or that file on his or her desk. So I think that's, that's one, one important misconception. And perhaps the other one that I would mention here and goes to a similar point, is the fact that Europe is made up, not just of Brussels, which is indeed the policy hub, but also of 27 capitals. And those capitals are really the political masters of the European Union. Joao Sousa (00:12:56): So you know, what happens in Berlin, what happens in Rome, in, I was gonna say London, but I won't say London anymore. What happens in Paris and in Scandinavian capitals that is really the political, the political direction that the European Union is taking, decided at the European Council, and decided in everyday political life within those capitals. And that's important for international companies, for us companies to beware. It does not mean that you have, that you're gonna have teams in every single capital. Of course, you can use your Brussels office as a hub in Europe, and then figure out according to your needs and resources, how you're going to follow the capitals. But it is important to be aware that member states have a very big weight in the way he does this politics and that legislation. Nia Chigogidze (00:13:50): Thank you. Nick, would you like to elaborate a little bit based on your experience from the US perspective or have been dealing with lobbying for US actors in particular when it comes to this focus of technical versus more political and of access as an equal influence, or even through maybe how the understanding of the influence of member state's level translates? Nick DeSarno (00:14:16): Yeah, I think it's obviously very complex, right? Because in the US we have this federated kind of system and there is something similar obviously going on in the EU, but it's just vastly different. So some of the levers that you would push in, you know, in, in DC or in state capitals, even in the US you just don't have those options in Brussels or in some of those state capital or some of the country capitals. I would also say that o overall, you know,  I think DC is becoming less political in a lot of ways. You know, that is obviously it's still very divisive, but I think people overstate sometimes how political the US is. But it is remarkably different when we go to, to Brussels. And so you know, there are definitely bureaucrats and a whole institution, a lot of, you know, usually it's very staff heavy. Nick DeSarno (00:15:16): When you go to go to Brussels, those people have usually several degrees <laugh>, you know, they're highly educated Europeans, they speak, you know, several languages. Almost everyone in Brussels makes me look,  foolish. And so it can kind of be intimidating to come in there, especially if you are from American company and say, you know, we really think this is the policy that would, you know, be the most effective to make, you know, Europe competitive. Those types of things are sometimes really difficult. And so they have to lean on, you know, their European partners. I would say that some of the misconceptions that we get off often are that it's really slow in the EU and obviously the US has also been currently pretty slow. States move very quickly still, in the US in comparison. Nick DeSarno (00:16:12): I think that's also changing. When you look at how big the issues are that the EU is tackling, they're not necessarily tackling, you know, things that would be dealt upon, you know, at a country level, a member state level. They're dealing with like some massive issues like climate change, you know, that, that are going to take years to, you know, finalize in terms of policy. And so I think if you look in that perspective you know, it's not actually slow. It's that their issues are just much larger. When we look at antitrust that they're dealing with right now, the EU is really leading the world there. They are holding a lot of the tech companies, you know feet to fire right now. Even just something as simple as they're making standard in the EU that iPhone cannot keep changing, you know, what cord they use to charge your iPhone, that is going to have a huge effect. We will probably end up in the US using the same cores that the EU has mandated. Um, so as Joao said, it is often the EU that leads in a lot of these critical issues. And so even if you don't have a huge marketplace there, it might end up really affecting your company in the long run or your association. Nia Chigogidze (00:17:31): And is it, they're a bit of a learning curve or growing pains when it comes for us companies learning to how to lobby and work with more, more larger packages that you say that you was dealing with. And would you have any kind of recommendations or tips on how to manage that transition? Nick DeSarno (00:17:50): And I'll let Joao out speak for the majority of this. Cause he's, he's the expert there, but a hundred percent, there's a lot of great firms that do work in the EU. It is definitely, I would say in the US you would often hire folks based on their relationships, and that is true in the EU as well, but, more so on their expertise and the ability to be seen as credible and authentic as a leader on that policy issue. Whereas often you can hire someone in the US that, you know, just has a previously worked in that, you know, the leadership's office or those types of things. The US is also kind of, I think, changing there, and we are becoming more policy oriented in that respect. People lobbyists are no longer just kind of in the revolving door just coming back in every other, you know, cycle. They are, they are developing issue area expertise more in the US now as well. But I think  that's a remarkable difference of, you know, can you, you really go into that office with credibility, I think is bigger in the EU than the IS. Nia Chigogidze (00:19:02): True. Would you like to expand on that? Joao Sousa (00:19:05): Yeah, sure. I mean, Nick makes some very good points. I do agree that it's when you come to Europe, when you are in Europe, it's, it's certainly a good thing to well, have at least the basic understanding of how the EU machinery works. And we've talked about that here a little bit. The EU is a big ship. So when you're trying to influence the course of a big ship, you need to do so from the early stages of the process. If you try to do that while the ship is, is well in, in high seas, then it's going to be much more difficult. So getting the timing right is definitely important. You know, having a basic understanding of the process and then certainly find your allies, you know,  find people and associations at consulting firms you can work with. Joao Sousa (00:20:07): Nick is very right when he mentioned the importance of not just of networking lobbyists. If, if that name exists, and I did hear it, the name networking lobbyists versus knowledge lobbyists. So for the sake of convenience, let's use that distinction. Even though in practice, the same person can very much have the both characteristics, but in, in Brussels especially,  it's important to have someone or to have a consulting firm, or more than one. Actually, you see many us companies in Brussels who have more than one consulting firm helping them in, in different ways. It's definitely a good thing to have kind of technical expertise just because the output is just so large. It's really a full-time thing. Perhaps. Another point that I would add is that you know, think not just in terms of consulting firms, but also in terms of associations, and you know, this, I would say that it's almost cultural in Europe and in many countries, associations are actually part of thee countries ecosystem you know, association syndicates in places like Germany or like France  or many other countries. Joao Sousa (00:21:32): These organizations are really, really powerful. So working with industry associations or trade associations, whether you're in tech or in pharma or whatever your sector chemicals, whatever your sector might be, there are most likely more than one association that you can, you know, be members of, be active in. And that usually, I say usually, not always, but usually encounters a favorable year from the European institutions because they will, they will have the perception, oftentimes right, that they are speaking to the industry and not to the interests of one specific organization. So whenever possible think in terms of coalitions, think in terms of partnerships, and  I think you'll find that the most successful companies do that. <affirmative> Nick DeSarno (00:22:27): A hundred percent. I think it's very hard for an individual company in the EU to make a huge impact on a piece of legislation or policy. It's much easier for associations, and they're viewed very differently, like Joel mentioned. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, our associations can be viewed as fairly political, where it's almost like in, in the Europe sense like those associations are like, think tanks would be in the US slightly, you know, more impartial than, than just representing, you know, a, a smaller, you know, sector of an industry position. Nia Chigogidze (00:23:02): Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and Nick, I wanted to get to you with my next question. In terms, Joao just outlined to us, and as well, you agreed some great practices of terms of things should be kept top of mind when approaching public affairs in the EU and mostly importance of partnerships, whether it's with consultants and associations. In a similar vein, what are some of the key aspects that you say that European companies need to be aware of when trying to lobby successfully in DC? So the opposite side of the coin? Nick DeSarno (00:23:32): Yeah, and I'm gonna take it the chance to, I saw a question come in about, you know, can you explain why you believe the US is perceived as less political? I think, you know, often Europeans view the US as so political cuz that's the knowledge that, you know, that's the information that they're getting, that they think that they can kind of come over, maybe launch a political action committee, write a bunch of checks to politicians, and then their policy issues solved. It, it does not work like that. You know, while companies do have the ability to participate through their employee donations in corporate PACs, you know, it's a not a lot of money in comparison to what these politicians are raising, either online or through other aspects like party fundraising. Companies probably before Citizens United actually had more power. Nick DeSarno (00:24:25): Often people say Citizens United gave, companies the right to write unlimited checks to politicians. That is not true. Most companies do not do that. Almost all companies in the Fortune 500 have a prohibition in their own laws, bylaws that say that they can't do that. It's also less political in a lot of ways. You know, policy is actually getting done. You know, in the Biden administration specifically, we've had some really big pieces of legislation go through in the last even eight months I would say, that are, that are really instrumental to changing the way that the economy and the levers of government are going to work for people. And that is also true even when it was the height of kind of polarization in the, in the Trump administration policy still still went through. Nick DeSarno (00:25:16): It often now comes in large packages. It does not come in in piecemeal legislation, how it should. So you're often dealing with potentially 15, 20 issues at once. And I think that's very difficult to get from a European perspective. You might actually even be, this happens all the time. You might be for a bill as an organization for a piece of legislation as an organization, and then it gets added to another piece of legislation that you do not like that often happens cuz they try to make things must pass. They try to put legislation together with things that other people don't want, so that the industry is kind of on their back heels when they, when they go to talk about that issue, things like that. Or they change it as an amendment. So I think for folks that are looking to just get started in the, in the US they have to realize that it's, it can be incredibly kind of complex. Nick DeSarno (00:26:10): It can be very fast moving in certain times. It can be, you know, there are still, there's a lot of staff that work for individual members of Congress. It's not in the MEPs do not have a lot of individual staff. Um, you know, most members of Congress have 20 and then, you know, US senators have 50 to 75, that is a lot of staff. Um, so staff can drive the day, um, on Capitol Hills, you know, on the state level it's a little bit harder. Um, yeah, I think sometimes we, we overstate how that localized be Harrison to Europe and I don't know always that it's always the right, you know, um, perception there. Cause Europe is also fairly polarized, especially the country that I'm currently living in. Nia Chigogidze (00:27:00): Okay. Great. Thanks. What of all those aspects just described kind of by Nick and anything else that might come to your mind based on your personal experience, what American approaches do you believe public effect Europeans could emulate and actually learn from? Joao Sousa (00:27:54): Yeah. A lot of things and vice versa. I think you have you know, you have, really great ideas and outstanding professionals, so many on both sides of the pond. and, you know, I what I see usually is, as with so many things, not just in public affairs, is that,  you know, good practice is born out of necessity, right? The challenges, the big challenges, the political challenges facing Europe and the US at this point are actually quite similar. We had the Brussels Public Affairs Forum happening last week, I wanna say, or two weeks ago already and we had a panel on transatlantic best practices on public affairs. And one of the conclusions of that discussion was precisely, you know,  how companies on both sides of the Atlantic are facing very similar challenges. Joao Sousa (00:28:59): You know, it was the Covid-19 pandemic and the, you know, the restrictions, the future of work. What does that mean for our staff? What does that mean for the way we engage with policymakers? Things are going more and more virtually in Europe, and I think in the US as well, at least that's what our council surveys are showing us virtual public affairs is much more used than it was before. And people are expecting it to continue. So you have that, you have obviously here in Europe and, but I think in the US as well you know, the whole topic around sustainability and climate change and energy security. The war in Ukraine is obviously big both in Brussels and the European capitals. Joao Sousa (00:29:49): Um, and, and there's a, I think a, a global overall, let's say, a geopolitical shift in the way Europe and the US are interacting with the rest of the world and the rest of you know, other countries that are sometimes partners, sometimes competitors. And so that is really changing. So, what I think is happening is at a tactical level,  public affairs professionals are having to adapt to the different institutional setups,  that are indeed very different between Brussels and the US. One thing that I have found over and over again that European, professionals and I really admire about public affairs teams in the US is that broadly speaking,  people really understand how to measure the impact of public affairs and how to grasp that impact in numbers in dollars and cents. Joao Sousa (00:30:59): Uh, it's, you know, measurement, measuring and communicating internally, the value of, of, of your function of the public affairs function, uh, is, is, is about the question I get more often in my job here in the European office and, and I see that in the US  there is a very good grasp of, you know, how to measure this impact, how to quantify this, how do I think about the public affairs impact in business terms, and how can I communicate that in business terms to the other departments or to senior leadership. So I think that's, that's one thing that is, is really interesting and, and certainly a practice that in the US I think many people have really grasped. Nia Chigogidze (00:31:52): Interesting. If it really, maybe we can, hopefully we can discuss it further when we go to the Q and A. And speaking of the Q and A, I wanted to encourage everyone, we already have a few questions in the Q and A, but after this following question, we'll be taking all the questions from the floor. So I would really encourage everyone to start posting them either in chat or the Q and A. If you wanna make them anonymous, you can post them in the Q and A. If not, you can also use the chat, live chat. We'll be monitoring both. But,  from a final question for me, and it's for both of you, Nick and Joao, speaking about different approaches and work works in the US, I wanted to ask you about grassroots and advocacy, why it works so well in the US why it doesn't work in the EU, and if your thoughts and predictions whether the kind of differences are, the current adaptation processes that are going on at both sides to fit with this geopolitical shifts we've just been discussing can predict any new developments in this area. Nick DeSarno (00:32:51): Yeah, it's interesting. Um, I, I don't like the, um, I, I don't love the approach. Some, you know, organizations take where they view kind of grassroots as just a, as a tool, um, you know, to, to be, to be launched, you know, when the lobbyist kind of needs it. I, I think it's a lot of companies and associations and advocacy groups. It can be really a worthwhile program that sometimes is the leading part of it. And the lobbyists are, are more actually in a support role. That's kinda the organization that I previously worked for, took that approach is really leverage the the members, the employees, those types of things. It obviously works really well in the United States. There are tons of studies that you can look at there about the effectiveness. When you ask members of Congress, who is the most, you know, influential when you're undecided on a position? It is, you know, the most influential stuff is hearing from their constituents. I'll say a couple things. A state and federal and local all actually have a process to manage the influx of grassroots incoming emails, calls, all of those types of things, Nick DeSarno (00:34:21): You know, they have people who take down those issues, who get back to folks who reached out. They have a whole process and online system for gathering signatures, et cetera. While petitions are fairly common in the EU  for different issues there, like you said, there isn't a ton of grassroots that happens near comparison. Part of that is people do not know who their MEP is. They have essentially, I don't know if you know who your MEP is. Most literally, most people don't. I don't think I've ever met someone that actually knew by name, who their MEP is, right? So the chance of you contacting that individual is probably rare. Even when you look at a lot of states, it's difficult, you know, sometimes because it's a parliamentary system, it is difficult to even know who your direct politician is. Nick DeSarno (00:35:14): So that's a big thing. They don't have the infrastructure to respond. A lot of times you are emailing just their inbox and they don't like that. And then I do think that they do things more, not deliberate, but there's less touch points for grassroots to occur in the way that the policy system is written in the US, there are a lot of different kinds of avenues and in-points where you really want to show that you have the constituent support there. And there's a, you know, from, you know, we do constituent work weeks when they go back into, uh, the district, those are times where you wanna show your influence and the member of Congress or, or senator is back in the home district. Those are types of things, um, that allow for a lot of close interaction. Uh, it is much harder here, and a lot of what you do see, uh, in terms of grassroots, are only from very large companies that have kind of facing, are facing like existential threats. So the Googles of the world that had faced previously, um, a pretty large threat from the EU, and I don't know how successful those efforts have really been. Joao Sousa (00:36:35): I agree. Nick spoke a bit about the EU as well, and I think it was he was absolutely right when he spoke about the limitations for that, for grassroots to happen in the EU. I think we are still waiting to see creative ideas of how to you know, how to do grassroots at the European level. I would love to see those ideas and to actually have those ideas you know, actually materialize. There are barriers to that, of course. Most obviously language is a barrier. You know, let's, let's not forget that 70 years ago, uh, Europe was at war with each other. These countries, these 27 countries were at war with each other, or some of them didn't exist, and were part of other countries. Joao Sousa (00:37:40): Um, they did not, of course, speak the same language. There was a very, very diverse, uh, political, cultural, economic. It was, it was as diverse as it can be. So this is where we are coming from in the European Union, and the European Union has gone a long way. But I think to get there, to get to the sort of the grassroots movement that, that exists in the US, I think that the institutional barriers that, that exist are still important,  and, you know, you have certain parts of Europe, which doesn't even believe in Europe. Euros skeptic don't want the European Union to actually exist. So that's going to make it obviously more difficult to mobilize people on in, in different European countries. Joao Sousa (00:38:41): There is this initiative you might, you might know about it, called the European Citizens Initiative. It allows, you know, it allows petitions to be submitted to the European Commission, and the European Commission is then, you know, obliged to consider them,  consider them and not necessarily act on them, but consider them. But there are restrictions, or there are constraints. The petition needs to have more than 1 million signatures. It has to have a minimum number of signatures from at least seven European countries with obviously different languages and cultures and et cetera. And it has to fall under the EU competencies, which is also an important question, which not many people know. For many people, their own national governments are still the first and only entry point to politics. Joao Sousa (00:39:39): So there are obstacles. Um, but I think it's certainly, you know, as we have more Europe, and I do believe that more we will have more Europe rather than less, people are going to be more and more aware of that. And they're going to realize, for example, in issues like tech that, that Nick was mentioning, people are going to be more and more aware that this is something that affects European consumer from across the spectrum of languages and cultures and nationalities. And there are more, um, there is more potential for mobilization. Nick DeSarno (00:40:14): To just add a point that Joao was making. I think the idea of those petitions is, you know, that are happening is kind of a reflection that Europe needed to be better at listening to folks. There were the was the yellow vest protests in Brussels the last time I was there, and a lot of it was about like, I don't feel like my voice is being heard in, in, in the EU. I feel like I don't have, you know, say in that this is such a bureaucratic process and I don't understand it, and I'm confused. And so I think on a number of areas,  the EU has invested in reaching out much more heavily on communication campaigns of various topics, including the importance of the EU itself. And by soliciting, you know, feedback, obviously you have similar issues in the US when we had January 6th, where there were people that, you know, felt that their voice maybe wasn't being heard. Nick DeSarno (00:41:19): Obviously, you know, it contributed to it, essentially a terrorist attack in DC. So, you know, it obviously is still there, even when you have the ability to reach out to your legislators in those like that are very easy in the US. But, I think when you don't have it, it can even occur more often, I think when you have those kinds of safety vows of like, I feel like my voice is at least being heard, someone got back to me and said, Thank you for sharing your opinion. More EU legislators and bureaucrats are on like LinkedIn and different things like that. So they are engaging with folks on social media as well. Nia Chigogidze (00:41:56): I think it's safe to say that we're a little skeptical about the future of grassroots and in the EU, even though we all seem to agree about the importance of developing more stable feedback channels with citizens, which, and of course, in itself is a bit of a contradiction. It would be interesting to discuss further, But in the interest of time, we've also had a lot of questions come in, so I would maybe switch to addressing them. And, um, one of the first questions is addressed towards usual, but make, please filter, chime in. So can you talk about how EU countries work together to advocate for policy priorities because the needs of countries are quite different from the needs of specific states? Joao Sousa (00:42:39): If I had the answer to that question I would probably have a much larger bank account. You know,  this is really one of the, one of the big questions here in Europe, and, and you know, the European Union. The European Union is, as I see it at least, is a negotiation machine. It's a machine that was created for people to talk and discuss, for countries to come together and have a forum to actually make decisions. That's why in the beginning of the institutions themselves, when the European Union was born, you've had many decisions that were expected to be taken by anonymity. We are growing, going further and further away from that as the European Union grows. Joao Sousa (00:43:36): As you know, reaching unanimity is perhaps, a realistic possibility with six or 12 members. It's virtually impossible with 27. So, the spirit of the institution or the institutions is still the same, which is to negotiate is the process of give and take. And this is really how it works. You may have countries that are particularly favorable to a certain direction of policies. Some countries that are, you know, perhaps more interested in free trades such as the UK when it was in the European unions such as the Netherlands, the UK has gone free trade, uh, uh, defenders now have one ally less, but others, other countries sometimes feel avoid countries in this, in central and eastern part of Europe. They favor a certain position when it comes to energy security, when it comes to defense, uh, when it comes to, you know, the response to the war in Ukraine, countries in the south and the west have a different opinion. Joao Sousa (00:44:42): Uh, so it's all a question of give and take. It's obviously a complex process, you know, formally all the countries come together in the European councils,  which happen, a few times per year. That's when all the governments come together. Those are sort of the big strategic decisions. And then, you know, in the background, away from the —you have capitals working with each other and with Brussels to actually hammer out a lot of the, you know, the daily legislative and policymaking work. But, you know, it's, it's a complicated process. It's above all a negotiation process of give and take. Nick DeSarno (00:45:30): I think important part of that is also sometimes it, it's like what Joo said is about being early in the EU is really important, I think, because these are such monumental kind of like almost diplomatic discussions. So it's hard to kind of constantly go back or remove something once so many parties have agreed to it. Where in the US it's like in, you know, once an issue is passed, there's always kind of some, some way to, to change it. That if you're a really good lobbyist, kind of an issue is never dead in America. Where in the EU, you know, if you 27 countries do agree to something at the end of the day, cause a lot of them have, you know, some, a lot of issues have veto power over some of the, you know, some of the big remaining issues. Joao Sousa (00:46:27): Think we lost you for a second. Nia Chigogidze (00:46:29): Yeah, sorry, Nick. I think we lost you for a sec. But I think the essence was that the bureaucratic red tape is always thick, but in some places it's a bit thicker. But, moving on to the next question, and feel free,  either of you can take this one. But, and I think Nick already touched upon this a little bit, but perhaps we could expand on it, as the US is exploring issues like antitrust, but it seems like the voices are, our corporations are very heavily involved, rather than just policy experts leading the conversation. Do companies have the same weight in the EU? And I think we did discuss this when we were talking about in terms of coalition and associations versus individual companies, but when you have any additional insights to share? Nick DeSarno (00:47:13): Yeah, I would say, Joao Sousa (00:47:16): Go ahead. Nick DeSarno (00:47:16): My perspective is that, they obviously don't have as much weight if you wanna be completely honest. It is definitely the result that you would expect in terms of how successful you are at influencing policy in the US. If you work at a company, the bar is much higher there, I think, internally at most companies than it is in the EU because the EU is so insulated from political pressure, from influence from companies in a lot of ways. That can be a good thing and it can be a real bad thing because if the issue is something that is potentially really complex or there's something that there is, you know, some populism around, you know, the wrong policy or less preferred policy can obviously kind of continue to fester in the EU maybe a little bit longer than it would in the US. Nick DeSarno (00:48:18): Um, think tanks have a lot more say, I think in the EU, in Brussels than they do in the US. Like, people think about think tanks a little bit in the US but they're not nearly as, as, as strong as they are, um, in the EU. And I think, uh, scholarship and academics, um, come in a lot more in the EU than it does in the, in the US. So having a white paper, having those types of really serious, hard hitting data and background is much more, I think, impressive that, that's kind of what I've seen as, as, as like the route. And so it definitely is obviously a little bit more wonkish. Joao Sousa (00:49:03): You know, I think Nick is rightand made some, some good points. I will say this though, while I do agree that, companies in the EU probably don't have the same weight, don't carry the same weight as they do in the US, I will say that, you know, having a more and more political European Commission or European Union also means that the institutions are becoming more and more aware that they won't be able to pull off something like the green deal. And they won't be able to, you know, address such a monumental, to file like sustainability and, and climate change without the support of business. So business really has to be on board. The companies really need to be on board in order for these things so that these things can happen. Joao Sousa (00:50:02): And these are really the big files in town. This is really what the key things that the EU is looking at today and for the future. And so I think there is this an increasing awareness that without business, uh, these files won't, won't really move, move forward. I do think, and again, Nick stole my words when he mentioned the associations. And I think this, there is a, a question also about, you know, how, um, how American companies can work with their European counterparts. I think this, this, uh, to a good extent answers that question as well, working through associations, uh, and there are associations that have, not just European, but in international membership. Um, and so it's a matter of you identifying which are the associations that are relevant to your industry, uh, and then, and then working through those associations, having a leading role. People always say that, uh, I'll always tell me that especially, uh, you know, leaders of associations themselves, they, they, they share with me that it's really important when companies, uh, assume a, a proactive role within the organization, the association, and they will then be able to take much more out of it, out of that membership. So definitely a difference, which you can certainly leverage as an opportunity if you do things and if you do things right, if you approach things from the partnership and coalition building perspective. Nia Chigogidze (00:51:38): Nick just addressed this briefly, but maybe you could expand on the second question he was referring to, and if you have any examples of companies working well with their US counterparts to achieve the same policy goals and how they are doing it? Nick DeSarno (00:51:53): Yeah, that's a good question. There are a lot of them. I'd say, you know, the companies that have a global public policy team are often the ones that can do this the best. So meaning that they, you know, you might have your kind of more relationship style lobbyists in a company, but then you will have a lot of big companies will have, you know, a policy team as well that's separate, that just handles regulatory and policy structure. When they are done in a global way where that policy is uniform across and that the policy experts will really understand, across the world where these different issues sit at a given time, I think that can be really impactful versus you know, kind of in one country lobbying for one thing and a different country, lobbying for slightly something slightly different cuz you think you can get away with a little bit more. Nick DeSarno (00:52:47): Those things,  that style of lobbying is kind of going away. I would also say it's really important to realize that the realization that, you know, Europe is not as fast-growing as the US and the large companies that have done successfully, you know, grown in the US are not necessarily European companies. You know, you have a lot of tech that's in the US you don't have as many tech companies in the EU. I'm talking about real big Fortune 500 companies. There's been a shift to a little bit more of a US-centric approach when it was fairly even maybe 25, 35 years ago. Um, so it's important that if you are a big US company that's based there, even if you have a ton of dealings in Europe that you show up and you say, Okay, this is how we're really impacting EU, this is how we're helping, you know, grow EU jobs, those types of things. Because sometimes I think that, that those companies, the US-based companies can look almost like enemies, you know, Oh, they're gonna, this us company is doing really, really well and they're gonna kick our, our country's, uh, version of that, you know, company out of business. Uh, it's often not the case. Um, and so sometimes US companies can be demonized a little bit, um, in the EU they need to kind of come with that perspective. And I think sometimes they don't realize that when they're walking in the door. Nia Chigogidze (00:54:17): I think we have time to take one more question, and we have one that just recently came in. If you were to try an American-style lobby day in Brussels, what would work and what wouldn't work when compared to the efforts of those organizations in Washington? I think this is quite a big large-scale picture, but maybe you can take it as an opportunity to kind of summarize the key takeaways from this session of what would be something that would be, you would give as advice to your American colleague of one thing to learn from Brussels and one thing to avoid in Brussels. Joao Sousa (00:54:56): Yeah. I can go ahead. That, that's a very good idea, Mike. We might try it. Thanks for the idea. How it would work, I don't know. I think one of the things we would see is bigger budgets. I think, you know, Europeans would not complain. European lobbyists would probably not complain about that. On a more serious note, how it would look like, I think, you know, perhaps picking up on that grassroots,  conversation we were having just now,  I think you might see, you know, a bigger conversation around how specific policies and legislation impact specific communities impact constituents of you know, different members of the European Parliament. If it is to the European Parliament that you would be talking to I think you could, you could see possibly, you know, campaigns being run, not just in Brussels, but also in other member states as well with, uh, you know,  in the different diversity of, of languages that makes up the European Union, you know, same campaign or a similar campaign, in France and other in Germany, another in Italy. Joao Sousa (00:56:25): Taking into account the different perspectives and the different context of people in different countries. So if I would have to, to, to take a wild, a wild guess at how that they would look like,  I, I think these would be, these would be my first ideas. But maybe Nick, you're feeling more creative. Nick DeSarno (00:56:49): Well, I do think that I, I think the EU loves like, thought leadership events and there are a lot of those,  where, you know, it's a politician and a reporter maybe from a news organization on stage in front of a group of folks talking about a specific issue and, and panels like that. And I think you could set them up as companies to then, you know, have a smaller, more intimate round table discussion after that in a very practical sense. But I think, you know, something that Joao mentioned is, you know, you have all these folks that are coming that are, that are in Brussels, that are coming from their countries. They have so many pressures back home, whether that's like leadership,  most folks you know right now don't love getting the Brussels assignment <laugh>. And so, you know,  cuz sometimes can be hard to transition out of that,  to, to, you know, hire office as like the, you know, president or, something like that in their country. Nick DeSarno (00:57:48): So, you know, working inside those countries, like Joao said, to really make sure that you can, you have a really solid connection there that whoever you're bringing to the fly-in, to the lobby day is really rooted in that kind of understanding of, okay, this is where this person's coming from, this is the person we need to influence. This is how I fit into that picture. That's very difficult to kind of do if you don't have a large footprint, if you're not in, you know, all these countries. And I think that that's part of it, That's part of it. There's a lot of big companies operate with smaller footprints in, in some of these smaller European states. Nia Chigogidze (00:58:30): Just about time, but I would still like to give both the opportunity, to say a few closing words, any key takeaways or any summaries, or any other additional comments you would like to make. Nick DeSarno (00:58:43): You know, I just like to thank everyone for joining us and you know, it's not as hard as one would think to get involved, whether you're a European trying to get involved in the US or, or vice versa. You know, if we can be of help, this is something that I got, I got a question the other day, that's a Brussel's resources. We need resources to know how to deal. So Joao, you're gonna get a member request from me. But it's something that occurs every day because these two continents are actually becoming a lot closer, which is a, it's a good thing to see. We're seeing this kind of Russia, China access, it's only pushing us, closer together and, so I think there's going to be a lot of room for collaboration in the future. Joao Sousa (00:59:26): Yeah, no, absolutely. I agree. I mean, this is this you know, transatlantic good ideas are at the heart of what we do at the Council. So I think this is certainly one of our favorite topics. So,  thanks to Nia and to Quorum for the invitation and to everybody who joined. There are many good practices. There are many differences, tactical differences between the way public affairs is done in Europe, in the US from the political slash strategic standpoint. You know the broad picture. I actually think there are a lot of similarities. So, I would encourage you to, you know, reach out to your European counterpart, see what they're doing,  trying to get some tips and lessons learned, and try to figure out ways with that, that to your context and to same thing, same advice. Joao Sousa (01:00:21): Cause for the European people attending the session,  one, certainly a very good thing that US, needs to bear in mind, US professionals should bear in mind when they come to Brussels, is that coalition building. You know, work with your allies. Try to figure out who can support you. Together you will go, you will go, I think you will go faster actually. And like the proverb, I think you will go faster and you will go further For Europeans, you know, when you, when you go to the US, perhaps think about this really good practice that, that,  I find the US professionals have, which is measuring and communicating internally the value of your work is not enough to do a good job. It's even, it's equally important to actually communicate that internally and enhance the profile and the reputation of your function, so that you'll have more resources, you have a better larger team and all of that. So a lot of things to learn.     [post_title] => Brussels vs. Washington D.C.: What Works, What Doesn’t, And Why? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => brussels-vs-washington-d-c-what-works-what-doesnt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-10-12 19:38:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-10-12 19:38:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7665 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 1 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7665 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2022-10-12 19:37:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-10-12 19:37:58 [post_content] => [embed]https://youtu.be/1azsTD7OdTY[/embed]   Nia Chigogidze (00:00:07): Okay. And I believe that we are live. Good morning to everyone joining us from the US and good afternoon to those joining us from Europe. And a special welcome to those who have already joined us in Wonk Week sessions yesterday. We are very happy to see you coming back for more. My name is Nia and I'm part of the customer success team at Quorum's EU Branch situated in Brussels, Belgium, which is also where I'm joining you from today. I will tell you a bit more about our session today, as well as give the floor to our speakers shortly. But first, we'll like to waste just a couple of minutes to give everyone the opportunity to log on, give a little extra time to those who might still be waiting on their coffee to be done. We know this is a bit of an early start for some of you, and while we do that, we wanted to offer you a little icebreaker to pass the time and get everyone going. Nia Chigogidze (00:00:57): And with staying with the theme of today's discussion on differences in approaches across the Atlantic. The question we would like to ask you is, which condiment do you prefer with your fries, ketchup, or mayonnaise? Uh, seemingly innocent question, but possibly a very controversial one. So please feel free to jot down your response in the chat window, which should be located on the right-hand side of your screen under a little chat icon. As a heads up, we will also be using the chat function for the q and a portion of the session a bit later on. So I would encourage you to already try to make yourself a little familiar with it. And, alright, while we wait for the responses to come in, draw, Nick, I would also be interested in hearing what your takes, your take is on this. Nick DeSarno (00:01:47): Oh, neither. I don't like ketchup or mayo <laugh> Nia Chigogidze (00:01:52): Controversial answer there. Nick DeSarno (00:01:53): Yeah. Joao Sousa (00:01:55): Yeah. I'm very Belgian, uh, at this point in time, so I would definitely go for mayonnaise. Nia Chigogidze (00:02:01): Yeah. All right. We have some responses coming in. Oh, and it looks like a lot of people are showing support for mixing both of them together and finding an interim solution. We should keep this in the back of my mind. This might come in as a great metaphor for our discussion at some point later on. Price. Good. Belgium, is even worse, I would say Nick DeSarno (00:02:26): I do smuggle in Chick-fil-A sauce from America from my fries, so I have that shipped, literally shipped in. So, Nia Chigogidze (00:02:36): Wow. The struggles of living. Nick DeSarno (00:02:39): Exactly. Nia Chigogidze (00:02:43): This seems to be a very inclusive crowd. We have very open-minded, which should be very good for the discussion going forward. Nick DeSarno (00:02:52): Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Nia Chigogidze (00:02:53): Any other points? Joao Sousa (00:02:55): This, this, this is the most, uh, perhaps, uh, tense question you will ask during this session. Nia Chigogidze (00:03:01): Probably. It definitely could be, but I feel like a lot of people before they come here don't even realize the possibility that mayo is an option. I think that was also the case for me. Nick DeSarno (00:03:12): That's funny. Yes, It's the condiments, even at like McDonald's are different in Europe than they are in the US. So you go, you can go and think you're gonna get one thing and you're gonna get something completely different. Nia Chigogidze (00:03:25): And a lot of controversy, apparently, having to pay for condiments in McDonald's from the US colleagues is something that I also hear a lot. Yep. So, so far it's been pretty 50-50, so we'll see maybe more responses continue to come in and we can declare a winner at the, towards the very end. But for now, I think see that a few more people have joined in, hopefully with copies at hand. So I think we can now circle back to our topic of discussion, uh, which is, it doesn't work like that in Brussels. If you're in EU affairs, you've likely said that's your US colleagues, or if you're lobbying in the US, you've probably been on the receiving end of that sentence, which leaves you wondering why Brussels is so different apart from course putting mayo on fries, <laugh>. So it's time for the cities to go head to head. What do you first professionals wish their counterparts on the hill understood about Brussels and what could they both learn from each other? Joining us today to explore this topic, our Nick de Sarno, Director of Digital and Policy communications with Public Affairs Council and Joao Sousa, managing director of the European Office of the Public Affairs Council. I will let them tell you more about their accolades and experience as well as their initial thoughts on the topic themselves in their opening remarks. So with no further dua, would you like to start us off? Joao Sousa (00:04:44): Sure. Thanks, Nia. Thanks to Quorum for the invitation. Thanks to, uh, everyone who is attending who shares their thoughts on probably the most controversial question about European politics. Everything else is relatively straightforward but this one is a really tricky one. As Nia mentioned, my name is Joao Sousa. I manage the Public Affairs Councils European office as well as our international practice which puts me in an interesting position of being a little bit between the two continents, which is, I think, really fascinating, because I get to be in contact with bright minds from both sides of the pond. The Public Affairs Council, for those of you who don't know us is a global association, for public affairs professionals. We have around 700 members plus globally from Fortune 500 companies to associations in Europe and the US, to consulting firms. Joao Sousa (00:05:51): Um, and we provide executive education and peer-to-peer discussions and networking opportunities for, uh, for, for those companies and for their staff, which is, uh, upwards of 10,000 people globally. Um, so, uh, that, that's a bit about me, bit about the council. Uh, before I was in a council, I joined four years ago, I was working with European Union, uh, and I was a consultant in places as diverse as, as Brussels, uh, as, uh, Bucharest in Romania cause of Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ha right next door, Portugal. Uh, so quite, quite a bit of traveling there. Um, and now I settled in Brussels, which is, uh, the city of, of the great weather. Um, so, uh, so that's, that's, uh, a little bit about me. Over to you. Nia Chigogidze (00:06:48): Over to you, Nick. Nick DeSarno (00:06:49): Awesome. Again, big thanks, uh, to me and to Quorum for inviting us. I'm Nick DeSarno and I work normally in our DC office for the Public Affairs Council. I'm actually located in London. I've lived in the UK for the last three years. So I kind of have a little bit of experience both with US politics, and now in the EU. Nick DeSarno (00:07:20): Three levels of government I worked in—for a mayor, a state senator, and a US congressman. So kind of gave me a lot of breadth in understanding how the political system works, and how the legislative system works. I worked in legislative offices as well. Um, so, you know, just kind of thinking about this question is something that we get asked a lot about, mainly from the US perspective of we are a large company based in the US. We're starting to do business more and more in Europe. You know, do we need an office in Brussels? Do we need, you know, what, what does that look like? How is it different? However, more and more as you know, our, you know, two continents become more united, especially recently over the war in Ukraine. A lot of European companies also want to understand how the US works and oftentimes will create offices or a US government relations function. It's obviously very different. I think is, you know, better or more easier to work with. But they all have their kind of unique differences and strategies, tactics that you can use, which is something that I really find interesting. And I'm always curious to see what might work that we do in the US or what might work in the EU or, or vice versa. What are they doing really well in the EU that we could maybe take and, and modify for a US audience. Nia Chigogidze (00:08:55): Thank you for that. So as I'm saying, as you said, there are definitely good practices to learn from on both sides of the pond, but before those, those practices can be shared, I think a lot comes to gauging expectations on initial greeting and initial interaction. So maybe to start off from that, maybe from a European perspective, and then maybe we'll, and we'll move on to the US one shortly. A question I have for Israel, what are some of the biggest miscon misconceptions that US public affairs teams tend to have when they arrive in Brussels? Try to establish a more so EU presence, and are there any of these misconceptions, in particular, that stand out to your mind that can lead to real no-nos when it comes to lobbying in Europe? Joao Sousa (00:09:41): Yeah. That's a very good question. And, yes, a question that we get a lot from US companies that are interested in doing public affairs in Europe and setting up teams here and interested in, you know getting in the European market, but also realizing the importance of the EU as a policy trends setter, the so-called Brussels effect. It's, it's something that is increasingly recognized. And companies are realizing that if you wanna be ahead of the game on things like sustainability, on things like energy efficiency on climate change, the green package, the green deal, Brussels is really a place where you need to be and, and you need to have a strong presence. So to your question about misconceptions, I think perhaps one of the main misconceptions is that Brussels is like Washington DC and this is going away more and more, but certainly the two cities are very, very different animals. Joao Sousa (00:10:58): There are two very big, you know, large public affairs capitals globally but they function in very different ways. Of course, the institutional setup is very different. Brussels is a very technical city. It is becoming more and more political, and perhaps we're gonna get to this at a later stage, but it's still a very technical city. It's still pumping legislation very, very actively. So you need, as a, you know, as a public affairs team that comes from, from, let's say a Washington or US background, you need to understand that Brussels is a more technical city. You need to understand that you need to get in the game early on and you cannot mistake, access with influence. That's, that's a saying that I heard a couple of years ago. Joao Sousa (00:11:55): That sometimes especially US companies sometimes confuse access with influence, but it's not the same thing. You can have access to the EU commissioner,  to the political appointee,  but it does not mean that, you know, that access is going to translate and you actually influencing the policy-making process, because oftentimes in Brussels, the policy-making process is being stirred on a daily basis by the policy officer that, that has that desk on his, or that file on his or her desk. So I think that's, that's one, one important misconception. And perhaps the other one that I would mention here and goes to a similar point, is the fact that Europe is made up, not just of Brussels, which is indeed the policy hub, but also of 27 capitals. And those capitals are really the political masters of the European Union. Joao Sousa (00:12:56): So you know, what happens in Berlin, what happens in Rome, in, I was gonna say London, but I won't say London anymore. What happens in Paris and in Scandinavian capitals that is really the political, the political direction that the European Union is taking, decided at the European Council, and decided in everyday political life within those capitals. And that's important for international companies, for us companies to beware. It does not mean that you have, that you're gonna have teams in every single capital. Of course, you can use your Brussels office as a hub in Europe, and then figure out according to your needs and resources, how you're going to follow the capitals. But it is important to be aware that member states have a very big weight in the way he does this politics and that legislation. Nia Chigogidze (00:13:50): Thank you. Nick, would you like to elaborate a little bit based on your experience from the US perspective or have been dealing with lobbying for US actors in particular when it comes to this focus of technical versus more political and of access as an equal influence, or even through maybe how the understanding of the influence of member state's level translates? Nick DeSarno (00:14:16): Yeah, I think it's obviously very complex, right? Because in the US we have this federated kind of system and there is something similar obviously going on in the EU, but it's just vastly different. So some of the levers that you would push in, you know, in, in DC or in state capitals, even in the US you just don't have those options in Brussels or in some of those state capital or some of the country capitals. I would also say that o overall, you know,  I think DC is becoming less political in a lot of ways. You know, that is obviously it's still very divisive, but I think people overstate sometimes how political the US is. But it is remarkably different when we go to, to Brussels. And so you know, there are definitely bureaucrats and a whole institution, a lot of, you know, usually it's very staff heavy. Nick DeSarno (00:15:16): When you go to go to Brussels, those people have usually several degrees <laugh>, you know, they're highly educated Europeans, they speak, you know, several languages. Almost everyone in Brussels makes me look,  foolish. And so it can kind of be intimidating to come in there, especially if you are from American company and say, you know, we really think this is the policy that would, you know, be the most effective to make, you know, Europe competitive. Those types of things are sometimes really difficult. And so they have to lean on, you know, their European partners. I would say that some of the misconceptions that we get off often are that it's really slow in the EU and obviously the US has also been currently pretty slow. States move very quickly still, in the US in comparison. Nick DeSarno (00:16:12): I think that's also changing. When you look at how big the issues are that the EU is tackling, they're not necessarily tackling, you know, things that would be dealt upon, you know, at a country level, a member state level. They're dealing with like some massive issues like climate change, you know, that, that are going to take years to, you know, finalize in terms of policy. And so I think if you look in that perspective you know, it's not actually slow. It's that their issues are just much larger. When we look at antitrust that they're dealing with right now, the EU is really leading the world there. They are holding a lot of the tech companies, you know feet to fire right now. Even just something as simple as they're making standard in the EU that iPhone cannot keep changing, you know, what cord they use to charge your iPhone, that is going to have a huge effect. We will probably end up in the US using the same cores that the EU has mandated. Um, so as Joao said, it is often the EU that leads in a lot of these critical issues. And so even if you don't have a huge marketplace there, it might end up really affecting your company in the long run or your association. Nia Chigogidze (00:17:31): And is it, they're a bit of a learning curve or growing pains when it comes for us companies learning to how to lobby and work with more, more larger packages that you say that you was dealing with. And would you have any kind of recommendations or tips on how to manage that transition? Nick DeSarno (00:17:50): And I'll let Joao out speak for the majority of this. Cause he's, he's the expert there, but a hundred percent, there's a lot of great firms that do work in the EU. It is definitely, I would say in the US you would often hire folks based on their relationships, and that is true in the EU as well, but, more so on their expertise and the ability to be seen as credible and authentic as a leader on that policy issue. Whereas often you can hire someone in the US that, you know, just has a previously worked in that, you know, the leadership's office or those types of things. The US is also kind of, I think, changing there, and we are becoming more policy oriented in that respect. People lobbyists are no longer just kind of in the revolving door just coming back in every other, you know, cycle. They are, they are developing issue area expertise more in the US now as well. But I think  that's a remarkable difference of, you know, can you, you really go into that office with credibility, I think is bigger in the EU than the IS. Nia Chigogidze (00:19:02): True. Would you like to expand on that? Joao Sousa (00:19:05): Yeah, sure. I mean, Nick makes some very good points. I do agree that it's when you come to Europe, when you are in Europe, it's, it's certainly a good thing to well, have at least the basic understanding of how the EU machinery works. And we've talked about that here a little bit. The EU is a big ship. So when you're trying to influence the course of a big ship, you need to do so from the early stages of the process. If you try to do that while the ship is, is well in, in high seas, then it's going to be much more difficult. So getting the timing right is definitely important. You know, having a basic understanding of the process and then certainly find your allies, you know,  find people and associations at consulting firms you can work with. Joao Sousa (00:20:07): Nick is very right when he mentioned the importance of not just of networking lobbyists. If, if that name exists, and I did hear it, the name networking lobbyists versus knowledge lobbyists. So for the sake of convenience, let's use that distinction. Even though in practice, the same person can very much have the both characteristics, but in, in Brussels especially,  it's important to have someone or to have a consulting firm, or more than one. Actually, you see many us companies in Brussels who have more than one consulting firm helping them in, in different ways. It's definitely a good thing to have kind of technical expertise just because the output is just so large. It's really a full-time thing. Perhaps. Another point that I would add is that you know, think not just in terms of consulting firms, but also in terms of associations, and you know, this, I would say that it's almost cultural in Europe and in many countries, associations are actually part of thee countries ecosystem you know, association syndicates in places like Germany or like France  or many other countries. Joao Sousa (00:21:32): These organizations are really, really powerful. So working with industry associations or trade associations, whether you're in tech or in pharma or whatever your sector chemicals, whatever your sector might be, there are most likely more than one association that you can, you know, be members of, be active in. And that usually, I say usually, not always, but usually encounters a favorable year from the European institutions because they will, they will have the perception, oftentimes right, that they are speaking to the industry and not to the interests of one specific organization. So whenever possible think in terms of coalitions, think in terms of partnerships, and  I think you'll find that the most successful companies do that. <affirmative> Nick DeSarno (00:22:27): A hundred percent. I think it's very hard for an individual company in the EU to make a huge impact on a piece of legislation or policy. It's much easier for associations, and they're viewed very differently, like Joel mentioned. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, our associations can be viewed as fairly political, where it's almost like in, in the Europe sense like those associations are like, think tanks would be in the US slightly, you know, more impartial than, than just representing, you know, a, a smaller, you know, sector of an industry position. Nia Chigogidze (00:23:02): Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and Nick, I wanted to get to you with my next question. In terms, Joao just outlined to us, and as well, you agreed some great practices of terms of things should be kept top of mind when approaching public affairs in the EU and mostly importance of partnerships, whether it's with consultants and associations. In a similar vein, what are some of the key aspects that you say that European companies need to be aware of when trying to lobby successfully in DC? So the opposite side of the coin? Nick DeSarno (00:23:32): Yeah, and I'm gonna take it the chance to, I saw a question come in about, you know, can you explain why you believe the US is perceived as less political? I think, you know, often Europeans view the US as so political cuz that's the knowledge that, you know, that's the information that they're getting, that they think that they can kind of come over, maybe launch a political action committee, write a bunch of checks to politicians, and then their policy issues solved. It, it does not work like that. You know, while companies do have the ability to participate through their employee donations in corporate PACs, you know, it's a not a lot of money in comparison to what these politicians are raising, either online or through other aspects like party fundraising. Companies probably before Citizens United actually had more power. Nick DeSarno (00:24:25): Often people say Citizens United gave, companies the right to write unlimited checks to politicians. That is not true. Most companies do not do that. Almost all companies in the Fortune 500 have a prohibition in their own laws, bylaws that say that they can't do that. It's also less political in a lot of ways. You know, policy is actually getting done. You know, in the Biden administration specifically, we've had some really big pieces of legislation go through in the last even eight months I would say, that are, that are really instrumental to changing the way that the economy and the levers of government are going to work for people. And that is also true even when it was the height of kind of polarization in the, in the Trump administration policy still still went through. Nick DeSarno (00:25:16): It often now comes in large packages. It does not come in in piecemeal legislation, how it should. So you're often dealing with potentially 15, 20 issues at once. And I think that's very difficult to get from a European perspective. You might actually even be, this happens all the time. You might be for a bill as an organization for a piece of legislation as an organization, and then it gets added to another piece of legislation that you do not like that often happens cuz they try to make things must pass. They try to put legislation together with things that other people don't want, so that the industry is kind of on their back heels when they, when they go to talk about that issue, things like that. Or they change it as an amendment. So I think for folks that are looking to just get started in the, in the US they have to realize that it's, it can be incredibly kind of complex. Nick DeSarno (00:26:10): It can be very fast moving in certain times. It can be, you know, there are still, there's a lot of staff that work for individual members of Congress. It's not in the MEPs do not have a lot of individual staff. Um, you know, most members of Congress have 20 and then, you know, US senators have 50 to 75, that is a lot of staff. Um, so staff can drive the day, um, on Capitol Hills, you know, on the state level it's a little bit harder. Um, yeah, I think sometimes we, we overstate how that localized be Harrison to Europe and I don't know always that it's always the right, you know, um, perception there. Cause Europe is also fairly polarized, especially the country that I'm currently living in. Nia Chigogidze (00:27:00): Okay. Great. Thanks. What of all those aspects just described kind of by Nick and anything else that might come to your mind based on your personal experience, what American approaches do you believe public effect Europeans could emulate and actually learn from? Joao Sousa (00:27:54): Yeah. A lot of things and vice versa. I think you have you know, you have, really great ideas and outstanding professionals, so many on both sides of the pond. and, you know, I what I see usually is, as with so many things, not just in public affairs, is that,  you know, good practice is born out of necessity, right? The challenges, the big challenges, the political challenges facing Europe and the US at this point are actually quite similar. We had the Brussels Public Affairs Forum happening last week, I wanna say, or two weeks ago already and we had a panel on transatlantic best practices on public affairs. And one of the conclusions of that discussion was precisely, you know,  how companies on both sides of the Atlantic are facing very similar challenges. Joao Sousa (00:28:59): You know, it was the Covid-19 pandemic and the, you know, the restrictions, the future of work. What does that mean for our staff? What does that mean for the way we engage with policymakers? Things are going more and more virtually in Europe, and I think in the US as well, at least that's what our council surveys are showing us virtual public affairs is much more used than it was before. And people are expecting it to continue. So you have that, you have obviously here in Europe and, but I think in the US as well you know, the whole topic around sustainability and climate change and energy security. The war in Ukraine is obviously big both in Brussels and the European capitals. Joao Sousa (00:29:49): Um, and, and there's a, I think a, a global overall, let's say, a geopolitical shift in the way Europe and the US are interacting with the rest of the world and the rest of you know, other countries that are sometimes partners, sometimes competitors. And so that is really changing. So, what I think is happening is at a tactical level,  public affairs professionals are having to adapt to the different institutional setups,  that are indeed very different between Brussels and the US. One thing that I have found over and over again that European, professionals and I really admire about public affairs teams in the US is that broadly speaking,  people really understand how to measure the impact of public affairs and how to grasp that impact in numbers in dollars and cents. Joao Sousa (00:30:59): Uh, it's, you know, measurement, measuring and communicating internally, the value of, of, of your function of the public affairs function, uh, is, is, is about the question I get more often in my job here in the European office and, and I see that in the US  there is a very good grasp of, you know, how to measure this impact, how to quantify this, how do I think about the public affairs impact in business terms, and how can I communicate that in business terms to the other departments or to senior leadership. So I think that's, that's one thing that is, is really interesting and, and certainly a practice that in the US I think many people have really grasped. Nia Chigogidze (00:31:52): Interesting. If it really, maybe we can, hopefully we can discuss it further when we go to the Q and A. And speaking of the Q and A, I wanted to encourage everyone, we already have a few questions in the Q and A, but after this following question, we'll be taking all the questions from the floor. So I would really encourage everyone to start posting them either in chat or the Q and A. If you wanna make them anonymous, you can post them in the Q and A. If not, you can also use the chat, live chat. We'll be monitoring both. But,  from a final question for me, and it's for both of you, Nick and Joao, speaking about different approaches and work works in the US, I wanted to ask you about grassroots and advocacy, why it works so well in the US why it doesn't work in the EU, and if your thoughts and predictions whether the kind of differences are, the current adaptation processes that are going on at both sides to fit with this geopolitical shifts we've just been discussing can predict any new developments in this area. Nick DeSarno (00:32:51): Yeah, it's interesting. Um, I, I don't like the, um, I, I don't love the approach. Some, you know, organizations take where they view kind of grassroots as just a, as a tool, um, you know, to, to be, to be launched, you know, when the lobbyist kind of needs it. I, I think it's a lot of companies and associations and advocacy groups. It can be really a worthwhile program that sometimes is the leading part of it. And the lobbyists are, are more actually in a support role. That's kinda the organization that I previously worked for, took that approach is really leverage the the members, the employees, those types of things. It obviously works really well in the United States. There are tons of studies that you can look at there about the effectiveness. When you ask members of Congress, who is the most, you know, influential when you're undecided on a position? It is, you know, the most influential stuff is hearing from their constituents. I'll say a couple things. A state and federal and local all actually have a process to manage the influx of grassroots incoming emails, calls, all of those types of things, Nick DeSarno (00:34:21): You know, they have people who take down those issues, who get back to folks who reached out. They have a whole process and online system for gathering signatures, et cetera. While petitions are fairly common in the EU  for different issues there, like you said, there isn't a ton of grassroots that happens near comparison. Part of that is people do not know who their MEP is. They have essentially, I don't know if you know who your MEP is. Most literally, most people don't. I don't think I've ever met someone that actually knew by name, who their MEP is, right? So the chance of you contacting that individual is probably rare. Even when you look at a lot of states, it's difficult, you know, sometimes because it's a parliamentary system, it is difficult to even know who your direct politician is. Nick DeSarno (00:35:14): So that's a big thing. They don't have the infrastructure to respond. A lot of times you are emailing just their inbox and they don't like that. And then I do think that they do things more, not deliberate, but there's less touch points for grassroots to occur in the way that the policy system is written in the US, there are a lot of different kinds of avenues and in-points where you really want to show that you have the constituent support there. And there's a, you know, from, you know, we do constituent work weeks when they go back into, uh, the district, those are times where you wanna show your influence and the member of Congress or, or senator is back in the home district. Those are types of things, um, that allow for a lot of close interaction. Uh, it is much harder here, and a lot of what you do see, uh, in terms of grassroots, are only from very large companies that have kind of facing, are facing like existential threats. So the Googles of the world that had faced previously, um, a pretty large threat from the EU, and I don't know how successful those efforts have really been. Joao Sousa (00:36:35): I agree. Nick spoke a bit about the EU as well, and I think it was he was absolutely right when he spoke about the limitations for that, for grassroots to happen in the EU. I think we are still waiting to see creative ideas of how to you know, how to do grassroots at the European level. I would love to see those ideas and to actually have those ideas you know, actually materialize. There are barriers to that, of course. Most obviously language is a barrier. You know, let's, let's not forget that 70 years ago, uh, Europe was at war with each other. These countries, these 27 countries were at war with each other, or some of them didn't exist, and were part of other countries. Joao Sousa (00:37:40): Um, they did not, of course, speak the same language. There was a very, very diverse, uh, political, cultural, economic. It was, it was as diverse as it can be. So this is where we are coming from in the European Union, and the European Union has gone a long way. But I think to get there, to get to the sort of the grassroots movement that, that exists in the US, I think that the institutional barriers that, that exist are still important,  and, you know, you have certain parts of Europe, which doesn't even believe in Europe. Euros skeptic don't want the European Union to actually exist. So that's going to make it obviously more difficult to mobilize people on in, in different European countries. Joao Sousa (00:38:41): There is this initiative you might, you might know about it, called the European Citizens Initiative. It allows, you know, it allows petitions to be submitted to the European Commission, and the European Commission is then, you know, obliged to consider them,  consider them and not necessarily act on them, but consider them. But there are restrictions, or there are constraints. The petition needs to have more than 1 million signatures. It has to have a minimum number of signatures from at least seven European countries with obviously different languages and cultures and et cetera. And it has to fall under the EU competencies, which is also an important question, which not many people know. For many people, their own national governments are still the first and only entry point to politics. Joao Sousa (00:39:39): So there are obstacles. Um, but I think it's certainly, you know, as we have more Europe, and I do believe that more we will have more Europe rather than less, people are going to be more and more aware of that. And they're going to realize, for example, in issues like tech that, that Nick was mentioning, people are going to be more and more aware that this is something that affects European consumer from across the spectrum of languages and cultures and nationalities. And there are more, um, there is more potential for mobilization. Nick DeSarno (00:40:14): To just add a point that Joao was making. I think the idea of those petitions is, you know, that are happening is kind of a reflection that Europe needed to be better at listening to folks. There were the was the yellow vest protests in Brussels the last time I was there, and a lot of it was about like, I don't feel like my voice is being heard in, in, in the EU. I feel like I don't have, you know, say in that this is such a bureaucratic process and I don't understand it, and I'm confused. And so I think on a number of areas,  the EU has invested in reaching out much more heavily on communication campaigns of various topics, including the importance of the EU itself. And by soliciting, you know, feedback, obviously you have similar issues in the US when we had January 6th, where there were people that, you know, felt that their voice maybe wasn't being heard. Nick DeSarno (00:41:19): Obviously, you know, it contributed to it, essentially a terrorist attack in DC. So, you know, it obviously is still there, even when you have the ability to reach out to your legislators in those like that are very easy in the US. But, I think when you don't have it, it can even occur more often, I think when you have those kinds of safety vows of like, I feel like my voice is at least being heard, someone got back to me and said, Thank you for sharing your opinion. More EU legislators and bureaucrats are on like LinkedIn and different things like that. So they are engaging with folks on social media as well. Nia Chigogidze (00:41:56): I think it's safe to say that we're a little skeptical about the future of grassroots and in the EU, even though we all seem to agree about the importance of developing more stable feedback channels with citizens, which, and of course, in itself is a bit of a contradiction. It would be interesting to discuss further, But in the interest of time, we've also had a lot of questions come in, so I would maybe switch to addressing them. And, um, one of the first questions is addressed towards usual, but make, please filter, chime in. So can you talk about how EU countries work together to advocate for policy priorities because the needs of countries are quite different from the needs of specific states? Joao Sousa (00:42:39): If I had the answer to that question I would probably have a much larger bank account. You know,  this is really one of the, one of the big questions here in Europe, and, and you know, the European Union. The European Union is, as I see it at least, is a negotiation machine. It's a machine that was created for people to talk and discuss, for countries to come together and have a forum to actually make decisions. That's why in the beginning of the institutions themselves, when the European Union was born, you've had many decisions that were expected to be taken by anonymity. We are growing, going further and further away from that as the European Union grows. Joao Sousa (00:43:36): As you know, reaching unanimity is perhaps, a realistic possibility with six or 12 members. It's virtually impossible with 27. So, the spirit of the institution or the institutions is still the same, which is to negotiate is the process of give and take. And this is really how it works. You may have countries that are particularly favorable to a certain direction of policies. Some countries that are, you know, perhaps more interested in free trades such as the UK when it was in the European unions such as the Netherlands, the UK has gone free trade, uh, uh, defenders now have one ally less, but others, other countries sometimes feel avoid countries in this, in central and eastern part of Europe. They favor a certain position when it comes to energy security, when it comes to defense, uh, when it comes to, you know, the response to the war in Ukraine, countries in the south and the west have a different opinion. Joao Sousa (00:44:42): Uh, so it's all a question of give and take. It's obviously a complex process, you know, formally all the countries come together in the European councils,  which happen, a few times per year. That's when all the governments come together. Those are sort of the big strategic decisions. And then, you know, in the background, away from the —you have capitals working with each other and with Brussels to actually hammer out a lot of the, you know, the daily legislative and policymaking work. But, you know, it's, it's a complicated process. It's above all a negotiation process of give and take. Nick DeSarno (00:45:30): I think important part of that is also sometimes it, it's like what Joo said is about being early in the EU is really important, I think, because these are such monumental kind of like almost diplomatic discussions. So it's hard to kind of constantly go back or remove something once so many parties have agreed to it. Where in the US it's like in, you know, once an issue is passed, there's always kind of some, some way to, to change it. That if you're a really good lobbyist, kind of an issue is never dead in America. Where in the EU, you know, if you 27 countries do agree to something at the end of the day, cause a lot of them have, you know, some, a lot of issues have veto power over some of the, you know, some of the big remaining issues. Joao Sousa (00:46:27): Think we lost you for a second. Nia Chigogidze (00:46:29): Yeah, sorry, Nick. I think we lost you for a sec. But I think the essence was that the bureaucratic red tape is always thick, but in some places it's a bit thicker. But, moving on to the next question, and feel free,  either of you can take this one. But, and I think Nick already touched upon this a little bit, but perhaps we could expand on it, as the US is exploring issues like antitrust, but it seems like the voices are, our corporations are very heavily involved, rather than just policy experts leading the conversation. Do companies have the same weight in the EU? And I think we did discuss this when we were talking about in terms of coalition and associations versus individual companies, but when you have any additional insights to share? Nick DeSarno (00:47:13): Yeah, I would say, Joao Sousa (00:47:16): Go ahead. Nick DeSarno (00:47:16): My perspective is that, they obviously don't have as much weight if you wanna be completely honest. It is definitely the result that you would expect in terms of how successful you are at influencing policy in the US. If you work at a company, the bar is much higher there, I think, internally at most companies than it is in the EU because the EU is so insulated from political pressure, from influence from companies in a lot of ways. That can be a good thing and it can be a real bad thing because if the issue is something that is potentially really complex or there's something that there is, you know, some populism around, you know, the wrong policy or less preferred policy can obviously kind of continue to fester in the EU maybe a little bit longer than it would in the US. Nick DeSarno (00:48:18): Um, think tanks have a lot more say, I think in the EU, in Brussels than they do in the US. Like, people think about think tanks a little bit in the US but they're not nearly as, as, as strong as they are, um, in the EU. And I think, uh, scholarship and academics, um, come in a lot more in the EU than it does in the, in the US. So having a white paper, having those types of really serious, hard hitting data and background is much more, I think, impressive that, that's kind of what I've seen as, as, as like the route. And so it definitely is obviously a little bit more wonkish. Joao Sousa (00:49:03): You know, I think Nick is rightand made some, some good points. I will say this though, while I do agree that, companies in the EU probably don't have the same weight, don't carry the same weight as they do in the US, I will say that, you know, having a more and more political European Commission or European Union also means that the institutions are becoming more and more aware that they won't be able to pull off something like the green deal. And they won't be able to, you know, address such a monumental, to file like sustainability and, and climate change without the support of business. So business really has to be on board. The companies really need to be on board in order for these things so that these things can happen. Joao Sousa (00:50:02): And these are really the big files in town. This is really what the key things that the EU is looking at today and for the future. And so I think there is this an increasing awareness that without business, uh, these files won't, won't really move, move forward. I do think, and again, Nick stole my words when he mentioned the associations. And I think this, there is a, a question also about, you know, how, um, how American companies can work with their European counterparts. I think this, this, uh, to a good extent answers that question as well, working through associations, uh, and there are associations that have, not just European, but in international membership. Um, and so it's a matter of you identifying which are the associations that are relevant to your industry, uh, and then, and then working through those associations, having a leading role. People always say that, uh, I'll always tell me that especially, uh, you know, leaders of associations themselves, they, they, they share with me that it's really important when companies, uh, assume a, a proactive role within the organization, the association, and they will then be able to take much more out of it, out of that membership. So definitely a difference, which you can certainly leverage as an opportunity if you do things and if you do things right, if you approach things from the partnership and coalition building perspective. Nia Chigogidze (00:51:38): Nick just addressed this briefly, but maybe you could expand on the second question he was referring to, and if you have any examples of companies working well with their US counterparts to achieve the same policy goals and how they are doing it? Nick DeSarno (00:51:53): Yeah, that's a good question. There are a lot of them. I'd say, you know, the companies that have a global public policy team are often the ones that can do this the best. So meaning that they, you know, you might have your kind of more relationship style lobbyists in a company, but then you will have a lot of big companies will have, you know, a policy team as well that's separate, that just handles regulatory and policy structure. When they are done in a global way where that policy is uniform across and that the policy experts will really understand, across the world where these different issues sit at a given time, I think that can be really impactful versus you know, kind of in one country lobbying for one thing and a different country, lobbying for slightly something slightly different cuz you think you can get away with a little bit more. Nick DeSarno (00:52:47): Those things,  that style of lobbying is kind of going away. I would also say it's really important to realize that the realization that, you know, Europe is not as fast-growing as the US and the large companies that have done successfully, you know, grown in the US are not necessarily European companies. You know, you have a lot of tech that's in the US you don't have as many tech companies in the EU. I'm talking about real big Fortune 500 companies. There's been a shift to a little bit more of a US-centric approach when it was fairly even maybe 25, 35 years ago. Um, so it's important that if you are a big US company that's based there, even if you have a ton of dealings in Europe that you show up and you say, Okay, this is how we're really impacting EU, this is how we're helping, you know, grow EU jobs, those types of things. Because sometimes I think that, that those companies, the US-based companies can look almost like enemies, you know, Oh, they're gonna, this us company is doing really, really well and they're gonna kick our, our country's, uh, version of that, you know, company out of business. Uh, it's often not the case. Um, and so sometimes US companies can be demonized a little bit, um, in the EU they need to kind of come with that perspective. And I think sometimes they don't realize that when they're walking in the door. Nia Chigogidze (00:54:17): I think we have time to take one more question, and we have one that just recently came in. If you were to try an American-style lobby day in Brussels, what would work and what wouldn't work when compared to the efforts of those organizations in Washington? I think this is quite a big large-scale picture, but maybe you can take it as an opportunity to kind of summarize the key takeaways from this session of what would be something that would be, you would give as advice to your American colleague of one thing to learn from Brussels and one thing to avoid in Brussels. Joao Sousa (00:54:56): Yeah. I can go ahead. That, that's a very good idea, Mike. We might try it. Thanks for the idea. How it would work, I don't know. I think one of the things we would see is bigger budgets. I think, you know, Europeans would not complain. European lobbyists would probably not complain about that. On a more serious note, how it would look like, I think, you know, perhaps picking up on that grassroots,  conversation we were having just now,  I think you might see, you know, a bigger conversation around how specific policies and legislation impact specific communities impact constituents of you know, different members of the European Parliament. If it is to the European Parliament that you would be talking to I think you could, you could see possibly, you know, campaigns being run, not just in Brussels, but also in other member states as well with, uh, you know,  in the different diversity of, of languages that makes up the European Union, you know, same campaign or a similar campaign, in France and other in Germany, another in Italy. Joao Sousa (00:56:25): Taking into account the different perspectives and the different context of people in different countries. So if I would have to, to, to take a wild, a wild guess at how that they would look like,  I, I think these would be, these would be my first ideas. But maybe Nick, you're feeling more creative. Nick DeSarno (00:56:49): Well, I do think that I, I think the EU loves like, thought leadership events and there are a lot of those,  where, you know, it's a politician and a reporter maybe from a news organization on stage in front of a group of folks talking about a specific issue and, and panels like that. And I think you could set them up as companies to then, you know, have a smaller, more intimate round table discussion after that in a very practical sense. But I think, you know, something that Joao mentioned is, you know, you have all these folks that are coming that are, that are in Brussels, that are coming from their countries. They have so many pressures back home, whether that's like leadership,  most folks you know right now don't love getting the Brussels assignment <laugh>. And so, you know,  cuz sometimes can be hard to transition out of that,  to, to, you know, hire office as like the, you know, president or, something like that in their country. Nick DeSarno (00:57:48): So, you know, working inside those countries, like Joao said, to really make sure that you can, you have a really solid connection there that whoever you're bringing to the fly-in, to the lobby day is really rooted in that kind of understanding of, okay, this is where this person's coming from, this is the person we need to influence. This is how I fit into that picture. That's very difficult to kind of do if you don't have a large footprint, if you're not in, you know, all these countries. And I think that that's part of it, That's part of it. There's a lot of big companies operate with smaller footprints in, in some of these smaller European states. Nia Chigogidze (00:58:30): Just about time, but I would still like to give both the opportunity, to say a few closing words, any key takeaways or any summaries, or any other additional comments you would like to make. Nick DeSarno (00:58:43): You know, I just like to thank everyone for joining us and you know, it's not as hard as one would think to get involved, whether you're a European trying to get involved in the US or, or vice versa. You know, if we can be of help, this is something that I got, I got a question the other day, that's a Brussel's resources. We need resources to know how to deal. So Joao, you're gonna get a member request from me. But it's something that occurs every day because these two continents are actually becoming a lot closer, which is a, it's a good thing to see. We're seeing this kind of Russia, China access, it's only pushing us, closer together and, so I think there's going to be a lot of room for collaboration in the future. Joao Sousa (00:59:26): Yeah, no, absolutely. I agree. I mean, this is this you know, transatlantic good ideas are at the heart of what we do at the Council. So I think this is certainly one of our favorite topics. So,  thanks to Nia and to Quorum for the invitation and to everybody who joined. There are many good practices. There are many differences, tactical differences between the way public affairs is done in Europe, in the US from the political slash strategic standpoint. You know the broad picture. I actually think there are a lot of similarities. So, I would encourage you to, you know, reach out to your European counterpart, see what they're doing,  trying to get some tips and lessons learned, and try to figure out ways with that, that to your context and to same thing, same advice. Joao Sousa (01:00:21): Cause for the European people attending the session,  one, certainly a very good thing that US, needs to bear in mind, US professionals should bear in mind when they come to Brussels, is that coalition building. You know, work with your allies. Try to figure out who can support you. Together you will go, you will go, I think you will go faster actually. And like the proverb, I think you will go faster and you will go further For Europeans, you know, when you, when you go to the US, perhaps think about this really good practice that, that,  I find the US professionals have, which is measuring and communicating internally the value of your work is not enough to do a good job. It's even, it's equally important to actually communicate that internally and enhance the profile and the reputation of your function, so that you'll have more resources, you have a better larger team and all of that. So a lot of things to learn.     [post_title] => Brussels vs. Washington D.C.: What Works, What Doesn’t, And Why? 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Brussels vs. Washington D.C.: What Works, What Doesn’t, And Why?

Brussels vs. Washington D.C.: What Works, What Doesn’t, And Why?

 

Nia Chigogidze (00:00:07):

Okay. And I believe that we are live. Good morning to everyone joining us from the US and good afternoon to those joining us from Europe. And a special welcome to those who have already joined us in Wonk Week sessions yesterday. We are very happy to see you coming back for more. My name is Nia and I’m part of the customer success team at Quorum’s EU Branch situated in Brussels, Belgium, which is also where I’m joining you from today. I will tell you a bit more about our session today, as well as give the floor to our speakers shortly. But first, we’ll like to waste just a couple of minutes to give everyone the opportunity to log on, give a little extra time to those who might still be waiting on their coffee to be done. We know this is a bit of an early start for some of you, and while we do that, we wanted to offer you a little icebreaker to pass the time and get everyone going.

Nia Chigogidze (00:00:57):

And with staying with the theme of today’s discussion on differences in approaches across the Atlantic. The question we would like to ask you is, which condiment do you prefer with your fries, ketchup, or mayonnaise? Uh, seemingly innocent question, but possibly a very controversial one. So please feel free to jot down your response in the chat window, which should be located on the right-hand side of your screen under a little chat icon. As a heads up, we will also be using the chat function for the q and a portion of the session a bit later on. So I would encourage you to already try to make yourself a little familiar with it. And, alright, while we wait for the responses to come in, draw, Nick, I would also be interested in hearing what your takes, your take is on this.

Nick DeSarno (00:01:47):

Oh, neither. I don’t like ketchup or mayo <laugh>

Nia Chigogidze (00:01:52):

Controversial answer there.

Nick DeSarno (00:01:53):

Yeah.

Joao Sousa (00:01:55):

Yeah. I’m very Belgian, uh, at this point in time, so I would definitely go for mayonnaise.

Nia Chigogidze (00:02:01):

Yeah. All right. We have some responses coming in. Oh, and it looks like a lot of people are showing support for mixing both of them together and finding an interim solution. We should keep this in the back of my mind. This might come in as a great metaphor for our discussion at some point later on. Price. Good. Belgium, is even worse, I would say

Nick DeSarno (00:02:26):

I do smuggle in Chick-fil-A sauce from America from my fries, so I have that shipped, literally shipped in. So,

Nia Chigogidze (00:02:36):

Wow. The struggles of living.

Nick DeSarno (00:02:39):

Exactly.

Nia Chigogidze (00:02:43):

This seems to be a very inclusive crowd. We have very open-minded, which should be very good for the discussion going forward.

Nick DeSarno (00:02:52):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>

Nia Chigogidze (00:02:53):

Any other points?

Joao Sousa (00:02:55):

This, this, this is the most, uh, perhaps, uh, tense question you will ask during this session.

Nia Chigogidze (00:03:01):

Probably. It definitely could be, but I feel like a lot of people before they come here don’t even realize the possibility that mayo is an option. I think that was also the case for me.

Nick DeSarno (00:03:12):

That’s funny. Yes, It’s the condiments, even at like McDonald’s are different in Europe than they are in the US. So you go, you can go and think you’re gonna get one thing and you’re gonna get something completely different.

Nia Chigogidze (00:03:25):

And a lot of controversy, apparently, having to pay for condiments in McDonald’s from the US colleagues is something that I also hear a lot. Yep. So, so far it’s been pretty 50-50, so we’ll see maybe more responses continue to come in and we can declare a winner at the, towards the very end. But for now, I think see that a few more people have joined in, hopefully with copies at hand. So I think we can now circle back to our topic of discussion, uh, which is, it doesn’t work like that in Brussels. If you’re in EU affairs, you’ve likely said that’s your US colleagues, or if you’re lobbying in the US, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of that sentence, which leaves you wondering why Brussels is so different apart from course putting mayo on fries, <laugh>. So it’s time for the cities to go head to head. What do you first professionals wish their counterparts on the hill understood about Brussels and what could they both learn from each other? Joining us today to explore this topic, our Nick de Sarno, Director of Digital and Policy communications with Public Affairs Council and Joao Sousa, managing director of the European Office of the Public Affairs Council. I will let them tell you more about their accolades and experience as well as their initial thoughts on the topic themselves in their opening remarks. So with no further dua, would you like to start us off?

Joao Sousa (00:04:44):

Sure. Thanks, Nia. Thanks to Quorum for the invitation. Thanks to, uh, everyone who is attending who shares their thoughts on probably the most controversial question about European politics. Everything else is relatively straightforward but this one is a really tricky one. As Nia mentioned, my name is Joao Sousa. I manage the Public Affairs Councils European office as well as our international practice which puts me in an interesting position of being a little bit between the two continents, which is, I think, really fascinating, because I get to be in contact with bright minds from both sides of the pond. The Public Affairs Council, for those of you who don’t know us is a global association, for public affairs professionals. We have around 700 members plus globally from Fortune 500 companies to associations in Europe and the US, to consulting firms.

Joao Sousa (00:05:51):

Um, and we provide executive education and peer-to-peer discussions and networking opportunities for, uh, for, for those companies and for their staff, which is, uh, upwards of 10,000 people globally. Um, so, uh, that, that’s a bit about me, bit about the council. Uh, before I was in a council, I joined four years ago, I was working with European Union, uh, and I was a consultant in places as diverse as, as Brussels, uh, as, uh, Bucharest in Romania cause of Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ha right next door, Portugal. Uh, so quite, quite a bit of traveling there. Um, and now I settled in Brussels, which is, uh, the city of, of the great weather. Um, so, uh, so that’s, that’s, uh, a little bit about me. Over to you.

Nia Chigogidze (00:06:48):

Over to you, Nick.

Nick DeSarno (00:06:49):

Awesome. Again, big thanks, uh, to me and to Quorum for inviting us. I’m Nick DeSarno and I work normally in our DC office for the Public Affairs Council. I’m actually located in London. I’ve lived in the UK for the last three years. So I kind of have a little bit of experience both with US politics, and now in the EU.

Nick DeSarno (00:07:20):

Three levels of government I worked in—for a mayor, a state senator, and a US congressman. So kind of gave me a lot of breadth in understanding how the political system works, and how the legislative system works. I worked in legislative offices as well. Um, so, you know, just kind of thinking about this question is something that we get asked a lot about, mainly from the US perspective of we are a large company based in the US. We’re starting to do business more and more in Europe. You know, do we need an office in Brussels? Do we need, you know, what, what does that look like? How is it different? However, more and more as you know, our, you know, two continents become more united, especially recently over the war in Ukraine. A lot of European companies also want to understand how the US works and oftentimes will create offices or a US government relations function. It’s obviously very different. I think is, you know, better or more easier to work with. But they all have their kind of unique differences and strategies, tactics that you can use, which is something that I really find interesting. And I’m always curious to see what might work that we do in the US or what might work in the EU or, or vice versa. What are they doing really well in the EU that we could maybe take and, and modify for a US audience.

Nia Chigogidze (00:08:55):

Thank you for that. So as I’m saying, as you said, there are definitely good practices to learn from on both sides of the pond, but before those, those practices can be shared, I think a lot comes to gauging expectations on initial greeting and initial interaction. So maybe to start off from that, maybe from a European perspective, and then maybe we’ll, and we’ll move on to the US one shortly. A question I have for Israel, what are some of the biggest miscon misconceptions that US public affairs teams tend to have when they arrive in Brussels? Try to establish a more so EU presence, and are there any of these misconceptions, in particular, that stand out to your mind that can lead to real no-nos when it comes to lobbying in Europe?

Joao Sousa (00:09:41):

Yeah. That’s a very good question. And, yes, a question that we get a lot from US companies that are interested in doing public affairs in Europe and setting up teams here and interested in, you know getting in the European market, but also realizing the importance of the EU as a policy trends setter, the so-called Brussels effect. It’s, it’s something that is increasingly recognized. And companies are realizing that if you wanna be ahead of the game on things like sustainability, on things like energy efficiency on climate change, the green package, the green deal, Brussels is really a place where you need to be and, and you need to have a strong presence. So to your question about misconceptions, I think perhaps one of the main misconceptions is that Brussels is like Washington DC and this is going away more and more, but certainly the two cities are very, very different animals.

Joao Sousa (00:10:58):

There are two very big, you know, large public affairs capitals globally but they function in very different ways. Of course, the institutional setup is very different. Brussels is a very technical city. It is becoming more and more political, and perhaps we’re gonna get to this at a later stage, but it’s still a very technical city. It’s still pumping legislation very, very actively. So you need, as a, you know, as a public affairs team that comes from, from, let’s say a Washington or US background, you need to understand that Brussels is a more technical city. You need to understand that you need to get in the game early on and you cannot mistake, access with influence. That’s, that’s a saying that I heard a couple of years ago.

Joao Sousa (00:11:55):

That sometimes especially US companies sometimes confuse access with influence, but it’s not the same thing. You can have access to the EU commissioner,  to the political appointee,  but it does not mean that, you know, that access is going to translate and you actually influencing the policy-making process, because oftentimes in Brussels, the policy-making process is being stirred on a daily basis by the policy officer that, that has that desk on his, or that file on his or her desk. So I think that’s, that’s one, one important misconception. And perhaps the other one that I would mention here and goes to a similar point, is the fact that Europe is made up, not just of Brussels, which is indeed the policy hub, but also of 27 capitals. And those capitals are really the political masters of the European Union.

Joao Sousa (00:12:56):

So you know, what happens in Berlin, what happens in Rome, in, I was gonna say London, but I won’t say London anymore. What happens in Paris and in Scandinavian capitals that is really the political, the political direction that the European Union is taking, decided at the European Council, and decided in everyday political life within those capitals. And that’s important for international companies, for us companies to beware. It does not mean that you have, that you’re gonna have teams in every single capital. Of course, you can use your Brussels office as a hub in Europe, and then figure out according to your needs and resources, how you’re going to follow the capitals. But it is important to be aware that member states have a very big weight in the way he does this politics and that legislation.

Nia Chigogidze (00:13:50):

Thank you. Nick, would you like to elaborate a little bit based on your experience from the US perspective or have been dealing with lobbying for US actors in particular when it comes to this focus of technical versus more political and of access as an equal influence, or even through maybe how the understanding of the influence of member state’s level translates?

Nick DeSarno (00:14:16):

Yeah, I think it’s obviously very complex, right? Because in the US we have this federated kind of system and there is something similar obviously going on in the EU, but it’s just vastly different. So some of the levers that you would push in, you know, in, in DC or in state capitals, even in the US you just don’t have those options in Brussels or in some of those state capital or some of the country capitals. I would also say that o overall, you know,  I think DC is becoming less political in a lot of ways. You know, that is obviously it’s still very divisive, but I think people overstate sometimes how political the US is. But it is remarkably different when we go to, to Brussels. And so you know, there are definitely bureaucrats and a whole institution, a lot of, you know, usually it’s very staff heavy.

Nick DeSarno (00:15:16):

When you go to go to Brussels, those people have usually several degrees <laugh>, you know, they’re highly educated Europeans, they speak, you know, several languages. Almost everyone in Brussels makes me look,  foolish. And so it can kind of be intimidating to come in there, especially if you are from American company and say, you know, we really think this is the policy that would, you know, be the most effective to make, you know, Europe competitive. Those types of things are sometimes really difficult. And so they have to lean on, you know, their European partners. I would say that some of the misconceptions that we get off often are that it’s really slow in the EU and obviously the US has also been currently pretty slow. States move very quickly still, in the US in comparison.

Nick DeSarno (00:16:12):

I think that’s also changing. When you look at how big the issues are that the EU is tackling, they’re not necessarily tackling, you know, things that would be dealt upon, you know, at a country level, a member state level. They’re dealing with like some massive issues like climate change, you know, that, that are going to take years to, you know, finalize in terms of policy. And so I think if you look in that perspective you know, it’s not actually slow. It’s that their issues are just much larger. When we look at antitrust that they’re dealing with right now, the EU is really leading the world there. They are holding a lot of the tech companies, you know feet to fire right now. Even just something as simple as they’re making standard in the EU that iPhone cannot keep changing, you know, what cord they use to charge your iPhone, that is going to have a huge effect. We will probably end up in the US using the same cores that the EU has mandated. Um, so as Joao said, it is often the EU that leads in a lot of these critical issues. And so even if you don’t have a huge marketplace there, it might end up really affecting your company in the long run or your association.

Nia Chigogidze (00:17:31):

And is it, they’re a bit of a learning curve or growing pains when it comes for us companies learning to how to lobby and work with more, more larger packages that you say that you was dealing with. And would you have any kind of recommendations or tips on how to manage that transition?

Nick DeSarno (00:17:50):

And I’ll let Joao out speak for the majority of this. Cause he’s, he’s the expert there, but a hundred percent, there’s a lot of great firms that do work in the EU. It is definitely, I would say in the US you would often hire folks based on their relationships, and that is true in the EU as well, but, more so on their expertise and the ability to be seen as credible and authentic as a leader on that policy issue. Whereas often you can hire someone in the US that, you know, just has a previously worked in that, you know, the leadership’s office or those types of things. The US is also kind of, I think, changing there, and we are becoming more policy oriented in that respect. People lobbyists are no longer just kind of in the revolving door just coming back in every other, you know, cycle. They are, they are developing issue area expertise more in the US now as well. But I think  that’s a remarkable difference of, you know, can you, you really go into that office with credibility, I think is bigger in the EU than the IS.

Nia Chigogidze (00:19:02):

True. Would you like to expand on that?

Joao Sousa (00:19:05):

Yeah, sure. I mean, Nick makes some very good points. I do agree that it’s when you come to Europe, when you are in Europe, it’s, it’s certainly a good thing to well, have at least the basic understanding of how the EU machinery works. And we’ve talked about that here a little bit. The EU is a big ship. So when you’re trying to influence the course of a big ship, you need to do so from the early stages of the process. If you try to do that while the ship is, is well in, in high seas, then it’s going to be much more difficult. So getting the timing right is definitely important. You know, having a basic understanding of the process and then certainly find your allies, you know,  find people and associations at consulting firms you can work with.

Joao Sousa (00:20:07):

Nick is very right when he mentioned the importance of not just of networking lobbyists. If, if that name exists, and I did hear it, the name networking lobbyists versus knowledge lobbyists. So for the sake of convenience, let’s use that distinction. Even though in practice, the same person can very much have the both characteristics, but in, in Brussels especially,  it’s important to have someone or to have a consulting firm, or more than one. Actually, you see many us companies in Brussels who have more than one consulting firm helping them in, in different ways. It’s definitely a good thing to have kind of technical expertise just because the output is just so large. It’s really a full-time thing. Perhaps. Another point that I would add is that you know, think not just in terms of consulting firms, but also in terms of associations, and you know, this, I would say that it’s almost cultural in Europe and in many countries, associations are actually part of thee countries ecosystem you know, association syndicates in places like Germany or like France  or many other countries.

Joao Sousa (00:21:32):

These organizations are really, really powerful. So working with industry associations or trade associations, whether you’re in tech or in pharma or whatever your sector chemicals, whatever your sector might be, there are most likely more than one association that you can, you know, be members of, be active in. And that usually, I say usually, not always, but usually encounters a favorable year from the European institutions because they will, they will have the perception, oftentimes right, that they are speaking to the industry and not to the interests of one specific organization. So whenever possible think in terms of coalitions, think in terms of partnerships, and  I think you’ll find that the most successful companies do that. <affirmative>

Nick DeSarno (00:22:27):

A hundred percent. I think it’s very hard for an individual company in the EU to make a huge impact on a piece of legislation or policy. It’s much easier for associations, and they’re viewed very differently, like Joel mentioned. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, our associations can be viewed as fairly political, where it’s almost like in, in the Europe sense like those associations are like, think tanks would be in the US slightly, you know, more impartial than, than just representing, you know, a, a smaller, you know, sector of an industry position.

Nia Chigogidze (00:23:02):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and Nick, I wanted to get to you with my next question. In terms, Joao just outlined to us, and as well, you agreed some great practices of terms of things should be kept top of mind when approaching public affairs in the EU and mostly importance of partnerships, whether it’s with consultants and associations. In a similar vein, what are some of the key aspects that you say that European companies need to be aware of when trying to lobby successfully in DC? So the opposite side of the coin?

Nick DeSarno (00:23:32):

Yeah, and I’m gonna take it the chance to, I saw a question come in about, you know, can you explain why you believe the US is perceived as less political? I think, you know, often Europeans view the US as so political cuz that’s the knowledge that, you know, that’s the information that they’re getting, that they think that they can kind of come over, maybe launch a political action committee, write a bunch of checks to politicians, and then their policy issues solved. It, it does not work like that. You know, while companies do have the ability to participate through their employee donations in corporate PACs, you know, it’s a not a lot of money in comparison to what these politicians are raising, either online or through other aspects like party fundraising. Companies probably before Citizens United actually had more power.

Nick DeSarno (00:24:25):

Often people say Citizens United gave, companies the right to write unlimited checks to politicians. That is not true. Most companies do not do that. Almost all companies in the Fortune 500 have a prohibition in their own laws, bylaws that say that they can’t do that. It’s also less political in a lot of ways. You know, policy is actually getting done. You know, in the Biden administration specifically, we’ve had some really big pieces of legislation go through in the last even eight months I would say, that are, that are really instrumental to changing the way that the economy and the levers of government are going to work for people. And that is also true even when it was the height of kind of polarization in the, in the Trump administration policy still still went through.

Nick DeSarno (00:25:16):

It often now comes in large packages. It does not come in in piecemeal legislation, how it should. So you’re often dealing with potentially 15, 20 issues at once. And I think that’s very difficult to get from a European perspective. You might actually even be, this happens all the time. You might be for a bill as an organization for a piece of legislation as an organization, and then it gets added to another piece of legislation that you do not like that often happens cuz they try to make things must pass. They try to put legislation together with things that other people don’t want, so that the industry is kind of on their back heels when they, when they go to talk about that issue, things like that. Or they change it as an amendment. So I think for folks that are looking to just get started in the, in the US they have to realize that it’s, it can be incredibly kind of complex.

Nick DeSarno (00:26:10):

It can be very fast moving in certain times. It can be, you know, there are still, there’s a lot of staff that work for individual members of Congress. It’s not in the MEPs do not have a lot of individual staff. Um, you know, most members of Congress have 20 and then, you know, US senators have 50 to 75, that is a lot of staff. Um, so staff can drive the day, um, on Capitol Hills, you know, on the state level it’s a little bit harder. Um, yeah, I think sometimes we, we overstate how that localized be Harrison to Europe and I don’t know always that it’s always the right, you know, um, perception there. Cause Europe is also fairly polarized, especially the country that I’m currently living in.

Nia Chigogidze (00:27:00):

Okay. Great. Thanks. What of all those aspects just described kind of by Nick and anything else that might come to your mind based on your personal experience, what American approaches do you believe public effect Europeans could emulate and actually learn from?

Joao Sousa (00:27:54):

Yeah. A lot of things and vice versa. I think you have you know, you have, really great ideas and outstanding professionals, so many on both sides of the pond. and, you know, I what I see usually is, as with so many things, not just in public affairs, is that,  you know, good practice is born out of necessity, right? The challenges, the big challenges, the political challenges facing Europe and the US at this point are actually quite similar. We had the Brussels Public Affairs Forum happening last week, I wanna say, or two weeks ago already and we had a panel on transatlantic best practices on public affairs. And one of the conclusions of that discussion was precisely, you know,  how companies on both sides of the Atlantic are facing very similar challenges.

Joao Sousa (00:28:59):

You know, it was the Covid-19 pandemic and the, you know, the restrictions, the future of work. What does that mean for our staff? What does that mean for the way we engage with policymakers? Things are going more and more virtually in Europe, and I think in the US as well, at least that’s what our council surveys are showing us virtual public affairs is much more used than it was before. And people are expecting it to continue. So you have that, you have obviously here in Europe and, but I think in the US as well you know, the whole topic around sustainability and climate change and energy security. The war in Ukraine is obviously big both in Brussels and the European capitals.

Joao Sousa (00:29:49):

Um, and, and there’s a, I think a, a global overall, let’s say, a geopolitical shift in the way Europe and the US are interacting with the rest of the world and the rest of you know, other countries that are sometimes partners, sometimes competitors. And so that is really changing. So, what I think is happening is at a tactical level,  public affairs professionals are having to adapt to the different institutional setups,  that are indeed very different between Brussels and the US. One thing that I have found over and over again that European, professionals and I really admire about public affairs teams in the US is that broadly speaking,  people really understand how to measure the impact of public affairs and how to grasp that impact in numbers in dollars and cents.

Joao Sousa (00:30:59):

Uh, it’s, you know, measurement, measuring and communicating internally, the value of, of, of your function of the public affairs function, uh, is, is, is about the question I get more often in my job here in the European office and, and I see that in the US  there is a very good grasp of, you know, how to measure this impact, how to quantify this, how do I think about the public affairs impact in business terms, and how can I communicate that in business terms to the other departments or to senior leadership. So I think that’s, that’s one thing that is, is really interesting and, and certainly a practice that in the US I think many people have really grasped.

Nia Chigogidze (00:31:52):

Interesting. If it really, maybe we can, hopefully we can discuss it further when we go to the Q and A. And speaking of the Q and A, I wanted to encourage everyone, we already have a few questions in the Q and A, but after this following question, we’ll be taking all the questions from the floor. So I would really encourage everyone to start posting them either in chat or the Q and A. If you wanna make them anonymous, you can post them in the Q and A. If not, you can also use the chat, live chat. We’ll be monitoring both. But,  from a final question for me, and it’s for both of you, Nick and Joao, speaking about different approaches and work works in the US, I wanted to ask you about grassroots and advocacy, why it works so well in the US why it doesn’t work in the EU, and if your thoughts and predictions whether the kind of differences are, the current adaptation processes that are going on at both sides to fit with this geopolitical shifts we’ve just been discussing can predict any new developments in this area.

Nick DeSarno (00:32:51):

Yeah, it’s interesting. Um, I, I don’t like the, um, I, I don’t love the approach. Some, you know, organizations take where they view kind of grassroots as just a, as a tool, um, you know, to, to be, to be launched, you know, when the lobbyist kind of needs it. I, I think it’s a lot of companies and associations and advocacy groups. It can be really a worthwhile program that sometimes is the leading part of it. And the lobbyists are, are more actually in a support role. That’s kinda the organization that I previously worked for, took that approach is really leverage the the members, the employees, those types of things. It obviously works really well in the United States. There are tons of studies that you can look at there about the effectiveness. When you ask members of Congress, who is the most, you know, influential when you’re undecided on a position? It is, you know, the most influential stuff is hearing from their constituents. I’ll say a couple things. A state and federal and local all actually have a process to manage the influx of grassroots incoming emails, calls, all of those types of things,

Nick DeSarno (00:34:21):

You know, they have people who take down those issues, who get back to folks who reached out. They have a whole process and online system for gathering signatures, et cetera. While petitions are fairly common in the EU  for different issues there, like you said, there isn’t a ton of grassroots that happens near comparison. Part of that is people do not know who their MEP is. They have essentially, I don’t know if you know who your MEP is. Most literally, most people don’t. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that actually knew by name, who their MEP is, right? So the chance of you contacting that individual is probably rare. Even when you look at a lot of states, it’s difficult, you know, sometimes because it’s a parliamentary system, it is difficult to even know who your direct politician is.

Nick DeSarno (00:35:14):

So that’s a big thing. They don’t have the infrastructure to respond. A lot of times you are emailing just their inbox and they don’t like that. And then I do think that they do things more, not deliberate, but there’s less touch points for grassroots to occur in the way that the policy system is written in the US, there are a lot of different kinds of avenues and in-points where you really want to show that you have the constituent support there. And there’s a, you know, from, you know, we do constituent work weeks when they go back into, uh, the district, those are times where you wanna show your influence and the member of Congress or, or senator is back in the home district. Those are types of things, um, that allow for a lot of close interaction. Uh, it is much harder here, and a lot of what you do see, uh, in terms of grassroots, are only from very large companies that have kind of facing, are facing like existential threats. So the Googles of the world that had faced previously, um, a pretty large threat from the EU, and I don’t know how successful those efforts have really been.

Joao Sousa (00:36:35):

I agree. Nick spoke a bit about the EU as well, and I think it was he was absolutely right when he spoke about the limitations for that, for grassroots to happen in the EU. I think we are still waiting to see creative ideas of how to you know, how to do grassroots at the European level. I would love to see those ideas and to actually have those ideas you know, actually materialize. There are barriers to that, of course. Most obviously language is a barrier. You know, let’s, let’s not forget that 70 years ago, uh, Europe was at war with each other. These countries, these 27 countries were at war with each other, or some of them didn’t exist, and were part of other countries.

Joao Sousa (00:37:40):

Um, they did not, of course, speak the same language. There was a very, very diverse, uh, political, cultural, economic. It was, it was as diverse as it can be. So this is where we are coming from in the European Union, and the European Union has gone a long way. But I think to get there, to get to the sort of the grassroots movement that, that exists in the US, I think that the institutional barriers that, that exist are still important,  and, you know, you have certain parts of Europe, which doesn’t even believe in Europe. Euros skeptic don’t want the European Union to actually exist. So that’s going to make it obviously more difficult to mobilize people on in, in different European countries.

Joao Sousa (00:38:41):

There is this initiative you might, you might know about it, called the European Citizens Initiative. It allows, you know, it allows petitions to be submitted to the European Commission, and the European Commission is then, you know, obliged to consider them,  consider them and not necessarily act on them, but consider them. But there are restrictions, or there are constraints. The petition needs to have more than 1 million signatures. It has to have a minimum number of signatures from at least seven European countries with obviously different languages and cultures and et cetera. And it has to fall under the EU competencies, which is also an important question, which not many people know. For many people, their own national governments are still the first and only entry point to politics.

Joao Sousa (00:39:39):

So there are obstacles. Um, but I think it’s certainly, you know, as we have more Europe, and I do believe that more we will have more Europe rather than less, people are going to be more and more aware of that. And they’re going to realize, for example, in issues like tech that, that Nick was mentioning, people are going to be more and more aware that this is something that affects European consumer from across the spectrum of languages and cultures and nationalities. And there are more, um, there is more potential for mobilization.

Nick DeSarno (00:40:14):

To just add a point that Joao was making. I think the idea of those petitions is, you know, that are happening is kind of a reflection that Europe needed to be better at listening to folks. There were the was the yellow vest protests in Brussels the last time I was there, and a lot of it was about like, I don’t feel like my voice is being heard in, in, in the EU. I feel like I don’t have, you know, say in that this is such a bureaucratic process and I don’t understand it, and I’m confused. And so I think on a number of areas,  the EU has invested in reaching out much more heavily on communication campaigns of various topics, including the importance of the EU itself. And by soliciting, you know, feedback, obviously you have similar issues in the US when we had January 6th, where there were people that, you know, felt that their voice maybe wasn’t being heard.

Nick DeSarno (00:41:19):

Obviously, you know, it contributed to it, essentially a terrorist attack in DC. So, you know, it obviously is still there, even when you have the ability to reach out to your legislators in those like that are very easy in the US. But, I think when you don’t have it, it can even occur more often, I think when you have those kinds of safety vows of like, I feel like my voice is at least being heard, someone got back to me and said, Thank you for sharing your opinion. More EU legislators and bureaucrats are on like LinkedIn and different things like that. So they are engaging with folks on social media as well.

Nia Chigogidze (00:41:56):

I think it’s safe to say that we’re a little skeptical about the future of grassroots and in the EU, even though we all seem to agree about the importance of developing more stable feedback channels with citizens, which, and of course, in itself is a bit of a contradiction. It would be interesting to discuss further, But in the interest of time, we’ve also had a lot of questions come in, so I would maybe switch to addressing them. And, um, one of the first questions is addressed towards usual, but make, please filter, chime in. So can you talk about how EU countries work together to advocate for policy priorities because the needs of countries are quite different from the needs of specific states?

Joao Sousa (00:42:39):

If I had the answer to that question I would probably have a much larger bank account. You know,  this is really one of the, one of the big questions here in Europe, and, and you know, the European Union. The European Union is, as I see it at least, is a negotiation machine. It’s a machine that was created for people to talk and discuss, for countries to come together and have a forum to actually make decisions. That’s why in the beginning of the institutions themselves, when the European Union was born, you’ve had many decisions that were expected to be taken by anonymity. We are growing, going further and further away from that as the European Union grows.

Joao Sousa (00:43:36):

As you know, reaching unanimity is perhaps, a realistic possibility with six or 12 members. It’s virtually impossible with 27. So, the spirit of the institution or the institutions is still the same, which is to negotiate is the process of give and take. And this is really how it works. You may have countries that are particularly favorable to a certain direction of policies. Some countries that are, you know, perhaps more interested in free trades such as the UK when it was in the European unions such as the Netherlands, the UK has gone free trade, uh, uh, defenders now have one ally less, but others, other countries sometimes feel avoid countries in this, in central and eastern part of Europe. They favor a certain position when it comes to energy security, when it comes to defense, uh, when it comes to, you know, the response to the war in Ukraine, countries in the south and the west have a different opinion.

Joao Sousa (00:44:42):

Uh, so it’s all a question of give and take. It’s obviously a complex process, you know, formally all the countries come together in the European councils,  which happen, a few times per year. That’s when all the governments come together. Those are sort of the big strategic decisions. And then, you know, in the background, away from the —you have capitals working with each other and with Brussels to actually hammer out a lot of the, you know, the daily legislative and policymaking work. But, you know, it’s, it’s a complicated process. It’s above all a negotiation process of give and take.

Nick DeSarno (00:45:30):

I think important part of that is also sometimes it, it’s like what Joo said is about being early in the EU is really important, I think, because these are such monumental kind of like almost diplomatic discussions. So it’s hard to kind of constantly go back or remove something once so many parties have agreed to it. Where in the US it’s like in, you know, once an issue is passed, there’s always kind of some, some way to, to change it. That if you’re a really good lobbyist, kind of an issue is never dead in America. Where in the EU, you know, if you 27 countries do agree to something at the end of the day, cause a lot of them have, you know, some, a lot of issues have veto power over some of the, you know, some of the big remaining issues.

Joao Sousa (00:46:27):

Think we lost you for a second.

Nia Chigogidze (00:46:29):

Yeah, sorry, Nick. I think we lost you for a sec. But I think the essence was that the bureaucratic red tape is always thick, but in some places it’s a bit thicker. But, moving on to the next question, and feel free,  either of you can take this one. But, and I think Nick already touched upon this a little bit, but perhaps we could expand on it, as the US is exploring issues like antitrust, but it seems like the voices are, our corporations are very heavily involved, rather than just policy experts leading the conversation. Do companies have the same weight in the EU? And I think we did discuss this when we were talking about in terms of coalition and associations versus individual companies, but when you have any additional insights to share?

Nick DeSarno (00:47:13):

Yeah, I would say,

Joao Sousa (00:47:16):

Go ahead.

Nick DeSarno (00:47:16):

My perspective is that, they obviously don’t have as much weight if you wanna be completely honest. It is definitely the result that you would expect in terms of how successful you are at influencing policy in the US. If you work at a company, the bar is much higher there, I think, internally at most companies than it is in the EU because the EU is so insulated from political pressure, from influence from companies in a lot of ways. That can be a good thing and it can be a real bad thing because if the issue is something that is potentially really complex or there’s something that there is, you know, some populism around, you know, the wrong policy or less preferred policy can obviously kind of continue to fester in the EU maybe a little bit longer than it would in the US.

Nick DeSarno (00:48:18):

Um, think tanks have a lot more say, I think in the EU, in Brussels than they do in the US. Like, people think about think tanks a little bit in the US but they’re not nearly as, as, as strong as they are, um, in the EU. And I think, uh, scholarship and academics, um, come in a lot more in the EU than it does in the, in the US. So having a white paper, having those types of really serious, hard hitting data and background is much more, I think, impressive that, that’s kind of what I’ve seen as, as, as like the route. And so it definitely is obviously a little bit more wonkish.

Joao Sousa (00:49:03):

You know, I think Nick is rightand made some, some good points. I will say this though, while I do agree that, companies in the EU probably don’t have the same weight, don’t carry the same weight as they do in the US, I will say that, you know, having a more and more political European Commission or European Union also means that the institutions are becoming more and more aware that they won’t be able to pull off something like the green deal. And they won’t be able to, you know, address such a monumental, to file like sustainability and, and climate change without the support of business. So business really has to be on board. The companies really need to be on board in order for these things so that these things can happen.

Joao Sousa (00:50:02):

And these are really the big files in town. This is really what the key things that the EU is looking at today and for the future. And so I think there is this an increasing awareness that without business, uh, these files won’t, won’t really move, move forward. I do think, and again, Nick stole my words when he mentioned the associations. And I think this, there is a, a question also about, you know, how, um, how American companies can work with their European counterparts. I think this, this, uh, to a good extent answers that question as well, working through associations, uh, and there are associations that have, not just European, but in international membership. Um, and so it’s a matter of you identifying which are the associations that are relevant to your industry, uh, and then, and then working through those associations, having a leading role. People always say that, uh, I’ll always tell me that especially, uh, you know, leaders of associations themselves, they, they, they share with me that it’s really important when companies, uh, assume a, a proactive role within the organization, the association, and they will then be able to take much more out of it, out of that membership. So definitely a difference, which you can certainly leverage as an opportunity if you do things and if you do things right, if you approach things from the partnership and coalition building perspective.

Nia Chigogidze (00:51:38):

Nick just addressed this briefly, but maybe you could expand on the second question he was referring to, and if you have any examples of companies working well with their US counterparts to achieve the same policy goals and how they are doing it?

Nick DeSarno (00:51:53):

Yeah, that’s a good question. There are a lot of them. I’d say, you know, the companies that have a global public policy team are often the ones that can do this the best. So meaning that they, you know, you might have your kind of more relationship style lobbyists in a company, but then you will have a lot of big companies will have, you know, a policy team as well that’s separate, that just handles regulatory and policy structure. When they are done in a global way where that policy is uniform across and that the policy experts will really understand, across the world where these different issues sit at a given time, I think that can be really impactful versus you know, kind of in one country lobbying for one thing and a different country, lobbying for slightly something slightly different cuz you think you can get away with a little bit more.

Nick DeSarno (00:52:47):

Those things,  that style of lobbying is kind of going away. I would also say it’s really important to realize that the realization that, you know, Europe is not as fast-growing as the US and the large companies that have done successfully, you know, grown in the US are not necessarily European companies. You know, you have a lot of tech that’s in the US you don’t have as many tech companies in the EU. I’m talking about real big Fortune 500 companies. There’s been a shift to a little bit more of a US-centric approach when it was fairly even maybe 25, 35 years ago. Um, so it’s important that if you are a big US company that’s based there, even if you have a ton of dealings in Europe that you show up and you say, Okay, this is how we’re really impacting EU, this is how we’re helping, you know, grow EU jobs, those types of things. Because sometimes I think that, that those companies, the US-based companies can look almost like enemies, you know, Oh, they’re gonna, this us company is doing really, really well and they’re gonna kick our, our country’s, uh, version of that, you know, company out of business. Uh, it’s often not the case. Um, and so sometimes US companies can be demonized a little bit, um, in the EU they need to kind of come with that perspective. And I think sometimes they don’t realize that when they’re walking in the door.

Nia Chigogidze (00:54:17):

I think we have time to take one more question, and we have one that just recently came in. If you were to try an American-style lobby day in Brussels, what would work and what wouldn’t work when compared to the efforts of those organizations in Washington? I think this is quite a big large-scale picture, but maybe you can take it as an opportunity to kind of summarize the key takeaways from this session of what would be something that would be, you would give as advice to your American colleague of one thing to learn from Brussels and one thing to avoid in Brussels.

Joao Sousa (00:54:56):

Yeah. I can go ahead. That, that’s a very good idea, Mike. We might try it. Thanks for the idea. How it would work, I don’t know. I think one of the things we would see is bigger budgets. I think, you know, Europeans would not complain. European lobbyists would probably not complain about that. On a more serious note, how it would look like, I think, you know, perhaps picking up on that grassroots,  conversation we were having just now,  I think you might see, you know, a bigger conversation around how specific policies and legislation impact specific communities impact constituents of you know, different members of the European Parliament. If it is to the European Parliament that you would be talking to I think you could, you could see possibly, you know, campaigns being run, not just in Brussels, but also in other member states as well with, uh, you know,  in the different diversity of, of languages that makes up the European Union, you know, same campaign or a similar campaign, in France and other in Germany, another in Italy.

Joao Sousa (00:56:25):

Taking into account the different perspectives and the different context of people in different countries. So if I would have to, to, to take a wild, a wild guess at how that they would look like,  I, I think these would be, these would be my first ideas. But maybe Nick, you’re feeling more creative.

Nick DeSarno (00:56:49):

Well, I do think that I, I think the EU loves like, thought leadership events and there are a lot of those,  where, you know, it’s a politician and a reporter maybe from a news organization on stage in front of a group of folks talking about a specific issue and, and panels like that. And I think you could set them up as companies to then, you know, have a smaller, more intimate round table discussion after that in a very practical sense. But I think, you know, something that Joao mentioned is, you know, you have all these folks that are coming that are, that are in Brussels, that are coming from their countries. They have so many pressures back home, whether that’s like leadership,  most folks you know right now don’t love getting the Brussels assignment <laugh>. And so, you know,  cuz sometimes can be hard to transition out of that,  to, to, you know, hire office as like the, you know, president or, something like that in their country.

Nick DeSarno (00:57:48):

So, you know, working inside those countries, like Joao said, to really make sure that you can, you have a really solid connection there that whoever you’re bringing to the fly-in, to the lobby day is really rooted in that kind of understanding of, okay, this is where this person’s coming from, this is the person we need to influence. This is how I fit into that picture. That’s very difficult to kind of do if you don’t have a large footprint, if you’re not in, you know, all these countries. And I think that that’s part of it, That’s part of it. There’s a lot of big companies operate with smaller footprints in, in some of these smaller European states.

Nia Chigogidze (00:58:30):

Just about time, but I would still like to give both the opportunity, to say a few closing words, any key takeaways or any summaries, or any other additional comments you would like to make.

Nick DeSarno (00:58:43):

You know, I just like to thank everyone for joining us and you know, it’s not as hard as one would think to get involved, whether you’re a European trying to get involved in the US or, or vice versa. You know, if we can be of help, this is something that I got, I got a question the other day, that’s a Brussel’s resources. We need resources to know how to deal. So Joao, you’re gonna get a member request from me. But it’s something that occurs every day because these two continents are actually becoming a lot closer, which is a, it’s a good thing to see. We’re seeing this kind of Russia, China access, it’s only pushing us, closer together and, so I think there’s going to be a lot of room for collaboration in the future.

Joao Sousa (00:59:26):

Yeah, no, absolutely. I agree. I mean, this is this you know, transatlantic good ideas are at the heart of what we do at the Council. So I think this is certainly one of our favorite topics. So,  thanks to Nia and to Quorum for the invitation and to everybody who joined. There are many good practices. There are many differences, tactical differences between the way public affairs is done in Europe, in the US from the political slash strategic standpoint. You know the broad picture. I actually think there are a lot of similarities. So, I would encourage you to, you know, reach out to your European counterpart, see what they’re doing,  trying to get some tips and lessons learned, and try to figure out ways with that, that to your context and to same thing, same advice.

Joao Sousa (01:00:21):

Cause for the European people attending the session,  one, certainly a very good thing that US, needs to bear in mind, US professionals should bear in mind when they come to Brussels, is that coalition building. You know, work with your allies. Try to figure out who can support you. Together you will go, you will go, I think you will go faster actually. And like the proverb, I think you will go faster and you will go further For Europeans, you know, when you, when you go to the US, perhaps think about this really good practice that, that,  I find the US professionals have, which is measuring and communicating internally the value of your work is not enough to do a good job. It’s even, it’s equally important to actually communicate that internally and enhance the profile and the reputation of your function, so that you’ll have more resources, you have a better larger team and all of that. So a lot of things to learn.