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WP_Query Object ( [query] => Array ( [name] => lobby-with-impact-eu-us [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => blog ) [query_vars] => Array ( [name] => lobby-with-impact-eu-us [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => blog [error] => [m] => [p] => 0 [post_parent] => [subpost] => [subpost_id] => [attachment] => [attachment_id] => 0 [pagename] => [page_id] => 0 [second] => [minute] => [hour] => [day] => 0 [monthnum] => 0 [year] => 0 [w] => 0 [category_name] => [tag] => [cat] => [tag_id] => [author] => [author_name] => [feed] => [tb] => [paged] => 0 [meta_key] => [meta_value] => [preview] => [s] => [sentence] => [title] => [fields] => [menu_order] => [embed] => [category__in] => Array ( ) [category__not_in] => Array ( ) [category__and] => Array ( ) [post__in] => Array ( ) [post__not_in] => Array ( ) [post_name__in] => Array ( ) [tag__in] => Array ( ) [tag__not_in] => Array ( ) [tag__and] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__in] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__and] => Array ( ) [post_parent__in] => Array ( ) [post_parent__not_in] => Array ( ) [author__in] => Array ( ) [author__not_in] => Array ( ) [ignore_sticky_posts] => [suppress_filters] => [cache_results] => 1 [update_post_term_cache] => 1 [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1 [update_post_meta_cache] => 1 [posts_per_page] => 10 [nopaging] => [comments_per_page] => 50 [no_found_rows] => [order] => DESC ) [tax_query] => [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object ( [queries] => Array ( ) [relation] => [meta_table] => [meta_id_column] => [primary_table] => [primary_id_column] => [table_aliases:protected] => Array ( ) [clauses:protected] => Array ( ) [has_or_relation:protected] => ) [date_query] => [queried_object] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7712 [post_author] => 28 [post_date] => 2022-10-21 14:33:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-10-21 14:33:00 [post_content] => “It doesn’t work like that in Brussels.” If you’re in EU affairs, you’ve likely said that to your US colleagues. Or, if you’re lobbying in D.C., you’ve probably been on the receiving end of that sentence — which leaves you wondering why Brussels is so different. So, we decided it was time for the cities to go head-to-head. We sat down with Joao Sousa, Managing Director, European Office, and Nick DeSarno, Director of Digital and Policy Communications, both from the Public Affairs Council, who shared their top tips to help teams navigate the political landscape on both sides of the Atlantic. Here are our top three learnings.

1. If You’re Not in Brussels, You’re One Step Behind

The von der Leyen Commission is widely recognised as one of the most ambitious Commissions that Brussels has seen in recent years. And as the pace of legislative and regulatory action has steadily increased, so has the tendency for key files to spill over and influence the policy framework in other regions around the world — meaning that presence in the EU capital is essential to shape policy globally. “US companies are realising the importance of the EU as a policy trendsetter — the so-called ‘Brussels effect’,” said Sousa. “If you want to be ahead of the game on things like sustainability, energy efficiency, on climate change, the Green Deal, Brussels is really a place where you need to be and, and you need to have a strong presence.” DeSarno echoed this sentiment and highlighted how the EU’s strong action on key issues such as antitrust and technology will likely be felt elsewhere. “When we look at antitrust, that they’re dealing with right now, the EU is really leading the world there. They are [also] holding a lot of tech companies ‘feet to the fire’ right now. Even just something as simple as [phone chargers] — they’re making it standard in the EU that iPhone cannot keep changing 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 cords that the EU has mandated.”

2. Know the Difference Between Network Lobbyists and Knowledge Lobbyists — And Use Them Accordingly

It’s broadly acknowledged that Washington DC is a political city, while Brussels is a technical one. That gives rise to a useful rule of thumb when engaging in each location — in Washington, it’s often about who you know, but in Brussels, it’s more a case of what you know. “In the US you would often hire folks based on their relationships,” explained DeSarno in reference to so-called ‘network lobbyists’. “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.” And being a ‘knowledge lobbyist’ in Brussels is not just about having a firm grasp on your policy files — but it also requires a deep understanding of how those technicalities play out within the political system itself. “As a public affairs team that comes from, let’s say, a Washington or US background, you need to understand that Brussels is a more technical city — so you cannot mistake access with influence,” said Sousa. “You can have access to the EU Commissioner, to the political appointee, but it does not mean that access is going to translate into 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 who has that file on their desk.” That said, our experts also noted that this distinction is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be, which means that organisations need to be savvy about creating public affairs teams with a blend of political and technical expertise. “The US is changing there, and we are becoming more policy-oriented,” said DeSarno. “Lobbyists are no longer just in the ‘revolving door’, coming back in every other cycle. They are developing issue area expertise more in the US now as well.” As for Brussels, an increasing trend is for organisations to rely on at least one consulting firm to provide different kinds of support — covering the various needs from stakeholder mapping and engagement to detailed legal analysis of policy proposals.

3. Not All Partnerships Look the Same — Understand Where To Find Your Allies

At first glance, there are broad similarities between organisations active in the policy scene in both Brussels and Washington DC — for example, corporates, associations, and think tanks. However, their roles and how they are perceived can vary drastically depending on the location. While associations are considered to be quite political in the US, this view does not hold true in Brussels — instead, broader industry coalitions are often seen as more neutral organisations which can ultimately reach decision-makers more impactfully. “Working with industry associations or trade associations [...] usually — not always, but usually — encounters a favourable ear from the European institutions because they will have the perception, oftentimes right, that they are speaking to the industry and not to the interests of one specific organisation,” explained Sousa. In a similar vein, Washington-based lobbyists may be quick to write off think tanks as holding little sway over the political landscape — but they’d be mistaken to take this approach in Brussels. “Think tanks have a lot more say in the EU, in Brussels, than they do in the US,” said DeSarno. “People think about think tanks a little bit in the US, but they’re not nearly as strong as they are in the EU. I think scholarship and academics come in a lot more in the EU than in the US — so having a white paper, having those types of really serious, hard-hitting data and background is much more impressive.” It’s therefore essential for organisations to have a thorough understanding of how various stakeholders show up in the local policy landscape to be able to make well-informed, impactful decisions on strategic partnerships and approaches.

Conclusion: Brussels vs. Washington DC — Are There More Similarities Than We Think?

Despite the differing set-ups in each city, are there also some commonalities to consider? “The two cities are very, very different animals,” said Sousa. “But the political challenges facing Europe and the US at this point are actually quite similar. [First] it was the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions, the future of work. [Now] here in Europe and in the US as well, [there is] the whole topic around sustainability, climate change, and energy security. The war in Ukraine is obviously big both in Brussels and the European capitals.” Needless to say, events in recent years have shown that global challenges require global responses — in areas from healthcare to climate and security. And that trend is unlikely to waver any time soon. That means that there are significant opportunities for policy professionals from both sides of the Atlantic to come together and learn from one another to influence global policy. “The two continents are actually becoming a lot closer, which is a good thing to see,” said DeSarno. “I think there’s going to be a lot of room for collaboration in the future.” [post_title] => How to Lobby With Impact in the EU vs. the US — Best Practices From the Public Affairs Council [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => lobby-with-impact-eu-us [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-11-03 15:52:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-11-03 15:52:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7712 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object_id] => 7712 [request] => SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_name = 'lobby-with-impact-eu-us' AND wp_posts.post_type = 'resources' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7712 [post_author] => 28 [post_date] => 2022-10-21 14:33:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-10-21 14:33:00 [post_content] => “It doesn’t work like that in Brussels.” If you’re in EU affairs, you’ve likely said that to your US colleagues. Or, if you’re lobbying in D.C., you’ve probably been on the receiving end of that sentence — which leaves you wondering why Brussels is so different. So, we decided it was time for the cities to go head-to-head. We sat down with Joao Sousa, Managing Director, European Office, and Nick DeSarno, Director of Digital and Policy Communications, both from the Public Affairs Council, who shared their top tips to help teams navigate the political landscape on both sides of the Atlantic. Here are our top three learnings.

1. If You’re Not in Brussels, You’re One Step Behind

The von der Leyen Commission is widely recognised as one of the most ambitious Commissions that Brussels has seen in recent years. And as the pace of legislative and regulatory action has steadily increased, so has the tendency for key files to spill over and influence the policy framework in other regions around the world — meaning that presence in the EU capital is essential to shape policy globally. “US companies are realising the importance of the EU as a policy trendsetter — the so-called ‘Brussels effect’,” said Sousa. “If you want to be ahead of the game on things like sustainability, energy efficiency, on climate change, the Green Deal, Brussels is really a place where you need to be and, and you need to have a strong presence.” DeSarno echoed this sentiment and highlighted how the EU’s strong action on key issues such as antitrust and technology will likely be felt elsewhere. “When we look at antitrust, that they’re dealing with right now, the EU is really leading the world there. They are [also] holding a lot of tech companies ‘feet to the fire’ right now. Even just something as simple as [phone chargers] — they’re making it standard in the EU that iPhone cannot keep changing 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 cords that the EU has mandated.”

2. Know the Difference Between Network Lobbyists and Knowledge Lobbyists — And Use Them Accordingly

It’s broadly acknowledged that Washington DC is a political city, while Brussels is a technical one. That gives rise to a useful rule of thumb when engaging in each location — in Washington, it’s often about who you know, but in Brussels, it’s more a case of what you know. “In the US you would often hire folks based on their relationships,” explained DeSarno in reference to so-called ‘network lobbyists’. “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.” And being a ‘knowledge lobbyist’ in Brussels is not just about having a firm grasp on your policy files — but it also requires a deep understanding of how those technicalities play out within the political system itself. “As a public affairs team that comes from, let’s say, a Washington or US background, you need to understand that Brussels is a more technical city — so you cannot mistake access with influence,” said Sousa. “You can have access to the EU Commissioner, to the political appointee, but it does not mean that access is going to translate into 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 who has that file on their desk.” That said, our experts also noted that this distinction is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be, which means that organisations need to be savvy about creating public affairs teams with a blend of political and technical expertise. “The US is changing there, and we are becoming more policy-oriented,” said DeSarno. “Lobbyists are no longer just in the ‘revolving door’, coming back in every other cycle. They are developing issue area expertise more in the US now as well.” As for Brussels, an increasing trend is for organisations to rely on at least one consulting firm to provide different kinds of support — covering the various needs from stakeholder mapping and engagement to detailed legal analysis of policy proposals.

3. Not All Partnerships Look the Same — Understand Where To Find Your Allies

At first glance, there are broad similarities between organisations active in the policy scene in both Brussels and Washington DC — for example, corporates, associations, and think tanks. However, their roles and how they are perceived can vary drastically depending on the location. While associations are considered to be quite political in the US, this view does not hold true in Brussels — instead, broader industry coalitions are often seen as more neutral organisations which can ultimately reach decision-makers more impactfully. “Working with industry associations or trade associations [...] usually — not always, but usually — encounters a favourable ear from the European institutions because they will have the perception, oftentimes right, that they are speaking to the industry and not to the interests of one specific organisation,” explained Sousa. In a similar vein, Washington-based lobbyists may be quick to write off think tanks as holding little sway over the political landscape — but they’d be mistaken to take this approach in Brussels. “Think tanks have a lot more say in the EU, in Brussels, than they do in the US,” said DeSarno. “People think about think tanks a little bit in the US, but they’re not nearly as strong as they are in the EU. I think scholarship and academics come in a lot more in the EU than in the US — so having a white paper, having those types of really serious, hard-hitting data and background is much more impressive.” It’s therefore essential for organisations to have a thorough understanding of how various stakeholders show up in the local policy landscape to be able to make well-informed, impactful decisions on strategic partnerships and approaches.

Conclusion: Brussels vs. Washington DC — Are There More Similarities Than We Think?

Despite the differing set-ups in each city, are there also some commonalities to consider? “The two cities are very, very different animals,” said Sousa. “But the political challenges facing Europe and the US at this point are actually quite similar. [First] it was the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions, the future of work. [Now] here in Europe and in the US as well, [there is] the whole topic around sustainability, climate change, and energy security. The war in Ukraine is obviously big both in Brussels and the European capitals.” Needless to say, events in recent years have shown that global challenges require global responses — in areas from healthcare to climate and security. And that trend is unlikely to waver any time soon. That means that there are significant opportunities for policy professionals from both sides of the Atlantic to come together and learn from one another to influence global policy. “The two continents are actually becoming a lot closer, which is a good thing to see,” said DeSarno. “I think there’s going to be a lot of room for collaboration in the future.” [post_title] => How to Lobby With Impact in the EU vs. the US — Best Practices From the Public Affairs Council [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => lobby-with-impact-eu-us [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-11-03 15:52:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-11-03 15:52:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7712 [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] => 7712 [post_author] => 28 [post_date] => 2022-10-21 14:33:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-10-21 14:33:00 [post_content] => “It doesn’t work like that in Brussels.” If you’re in EU affairs, you’ve likely said that to your US colleagues. Or, if you’re lobbying in D.C., you’ve probably been on the receiving end of that sentence — which leaves you wondering why Brussels is so different. So, we decided it was time for the cities to go head-to-head. We sat down with Joao Sousa, Managing Director, European Office, and Nick DeSarno, Director of Digital and Policy Communications, both from the Public Affairs Council, who shared their top tips to help teams navigate the political landscape on both sides of the Atlantic. Here are our top three learnings.

1. If You’re Not in Brussels, You’re One Step Behind

The von der Leyen Commission is widely recognised as one of the most ambitious Commissions that Brussels has seen in recent years. And as the pace of legislative and regulatory action has steadily increased, so has the tendency for key files to spill over and influence the policy framework in other regions around the world — meaning that presence in the EU capital is essential to shape policy globally. “US companies are realising the importance of the EU as a policy trendsetter — the so-called ‘Brussels effect’,” said Sousa. “If you want to be ahead of the game on things like sustainability, energy efficiency, on climate change, the Green Deal, Brussels is really a place where you need to be and, and you need to have a strong presence.” DeSarno echoed this sentiment and highlighted how the EU’s strong action on key issues such as antitrust and technology will likely be felt elsewhere. “When we look at antitrust, that they’re dealing with right now, the EU is really leading the world there. They are [also] holding a lot of tech companies ‘feet to the fire’ right now. Even just something as simple as [phone chargers] — they’re making it standard in the EU that iPhone cannot keep changing 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 cords that the EU has mandated.”

2. Know the Difference Between Network Lobbyists and Knowledge Lobbyists — And Use Them Accordingly

It’s broadly acknowledged that Washington DC is a political city, while Brussels is a technical one. That gives rise to a useful rule of thumb when engaging in each location — in Washington, it’s often about who you know, but in Brussels, it’s more a case of what you know. “In the US you would often hire folks based on their relationships,” explained DeSarno in reference to so-called ‘network lobbyists’. “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.” And being a ‘knowledge lobbyist’ in Brussels is not just about having a firm grasp on your policy files — but it also requires a deep understanding of how those technicalities play out within the political system itself. “As a public affairs team that comes from, let’s say, a Washington or US background, you need to understand that Brussels is a more technical city — so you cannot mistake access with influence,” said Sousa. “You can have access to the EU Commissioner, to the political appointee, but it does not mean that access is going to translate into 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 who has that file on their desk.” That said, our experts also noted that this distinction is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be, which means that organisations need to be savvy about creating public affairs teams with a blend of political and technical expertise. “The US is changing there, and we are becoming more policy-oriented,” said DeSarno. “Lobbyists are no longer just in the ‘revolving door’, coming back in every other cycle. They are developing issue area expertise more in the US now as well.” As for Brussels, an increasing trend is for organisations to rely on at least one consulting firm to provide different kinds of support — covering the various needs from stakeholder mapping and engagement to detailed legal analysis of policy proposals.

3. Not All Partnerships Look the Same — Understand Where To Find Your Allies

At first glance, there are broad similarities between organisations active in the policy scene in both Brussels and Washington DC — for example, corporates, associations, and think tanks. However, their roles and how they are perceived can vary drastically depending on the location. While associations are considered to be quite political in the US, this view does not hold true in Brussels — instead, broader industry coalitions are often seen as more neutral organisations which can ultimately reach decision-makers more impactfully. “Working with industry associations or trade associations [...] usually — not always, but usually — encounters a favourable ear from the European institutions because they will have the perception, oftentimes right, that they are speaking to the industry and not to the interests of one specific organisation,” explained Sousa. In a similar vein, Washington-based lobbyists may be quick to write off think tanks as holding little sway over the political landscape — but they’d be mistaken to take this approach in Brussels. “Think tanks have a lot more say in the EU, in Brussels, than they do in the US,” said DeSarno. “People think about think tanks a little bit in the US, but they’re not nearly as strong as they are in the EU. I think scholarship and academics come in a lot more in the EU than in the US — so having a white paper, having those types of really serious, hard-hitting data and background is much more impressive.” It’s therefore essential for organisations to have a thorough understanding of how various stakeholders show up in the local policy landscape to be able to make well-informed, impactful decisions on strategic partnerships and approaches.

Conclusion: Brussels vs. Washington DC — Are There More Similarities Than We Think?

Despite the differing set-ups in each city, are there also some commonalities to consider? “The two cities are very, very different animals,” said Sousa. “But the political challenges facing Europe and the US at this point are actually quite similar. [First] it was the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions, the future of work. [Now] here in Europe and in the US as well, [there is] the whole topic around sustainability, climate change, and energy security. The war in Ukraine is obviously big both in Brussels and the European capitals.” Needless to say, events in recent years have shown that global challenges require global responses — in areas from healthcare to climate and security. And that trend is unlikely to waver any time soon. That means that there are significant opportunities for policy professionals from both sides of the Atlantic to come together and learn from one another to influence global policy. “The two continents are actually becoming a lot closer, which is a good thing to see,” said DeSarno. “I think there’s going to be a lot of room for collaboration in the future.” [post_title] => How to Lobby With Impact in the EU vs. the US — Best Practices From the Public Affairs Council [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => lobby-with-impact-eu-us [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-11-03 15:52:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-11-03 15:52:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7712 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 1 [max_num_pages] => 0 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => 1 [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => 1 [is_robots] => [is_favicon] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 122e0fa83659d6d7a8313aff55dfa559 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )
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How to Lobby With Impact in the EU vs. the US — Best Practices From the Public Affairs Council

How to Lobby With Impact in the EU vs. the US — Best Practices From the Public Affairs Council

“It doesn’t work like that in Brussels.”

If you’re in EU affairs, you’ve likely said that to your US colleagues. Or, if you’re lobbying in D.C., you’ve probably been on the receiving end of that sentence — which leaves you wondering why Brussels is so different.

So, we decided it was time for the cities to go head-to-head. We sat down with Joao Sousa, Managing Director, European Office, and Nick DeSarno, Director of Digital and Policy Communications, both from the Public Affairs Council, who shared their top tips to help teams navigate the political landscape on both sides of the Atlantic. Here are our top three learnings.

1. If You’re Not in Brussels, You’re One Step Behind

The von der Leyen Commission is widely recognised as one of the most ambitious Commissions that Brussels has seen in recent years. And as the pace of legislative and regulatory action has steadily increased, so has the tendency for key files to spill over and influence the policy framework in other regions around the world — meaning that presence in the EU capital is essential to shape policy globally.

“US companies are realising the importance of the EU as a policy trendsetter — the so-called ‘Brussels effect’,” said Sousa. “If you want to be ahead of the game on things like sustainability, energy efficiency, on climate change, the Green Deal, Brussels is really a place where you need to be and, and you need to have a strong presence.”

DeSarno echoed this sentiment and highlighted how the EU’s strong action on key issues such as antitrust and technology will likely be felt elsewhere.

“When we look at antitrust, that they’re dealing with right now, the EU is really leading the world there. They are [also] holding a lot of tech companies ‘feet to the fire’ right now. Even just something as simple as [phone chargers] — they’re making it standard in the EU that iPhone cannot keep changing 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 cords that the EU has mandated.”

2. Know the Difference Between Network Lobbyists and Knowledge Lobbyists — And Use Them Accordingly

It’s broadly acknowledged that Washington DC is a political city, while Brussels is a technical one. That gives rise to a useful rule of thumb when engaging in each location — in Washington, it’s often about who you know, but in Brussels, it’s more a case of what you know.

“In the US you would often hire folks based on their relationships,” explained DeSarno in reference to so-called ‘network lobbyists’. “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.”

And being a ‘knowledge lobbyist’ in Brussels is not just about having a firm grasp on your policy files — but it also requires a deep understanding of how those technicalities play out within the political system itself.

“As a public affairs team that comes from, let’s say, a Washington or US background, you need to understand that Brussels is a more technical city — so you cannot mistake access with influence,” said Sousa. “You can have access to the EU Commissioner, to the political appointee, but it does not mean that access is going to translate into 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 who has that file on their desk.”

That said, our experts also noted that this distinction is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be, which means that organisations need to be savvy about creating public affairs teams with a blend of political and technical expertise.

“The US is changing there, and we are becoming more policy-oriented,” said DeSarno. “Lobbyists are no longer just in the ‘revolving door’, coming back in every other cycle. They are developing issue area expertise more in the US now as well.”

As for Brussels, an increasing trend is for organisations to rely on at least one consulting firm to provide different kinds of support — covering the various needs from stakeholder mapping and engagement to detailed legal analysis of policy proposals.

3. Not All Partnerships Look the Same — Understand Where To Find Your Allies

At first glance, there are broad similarities between organisations active in the policy scene in both Brussels and Washington DC — for example, corporates, associations, and think tanks. However, their roles and how they are perceived can vary drastically depending on the location.

While associations are considered to be quite political in the US, this view does not hold true in Brussels — instead, broader industry coalitions are often seen as more neutral organisations which can ultimately reach decision-makers more impactfully.

“Working with industry associations or trade associations […] usually — not always, but usually — encounters a favourable ear from the European institutions because they will have the perception, oftentimes right, that they are speaking to the industry and not to the interests of one specific organisation,” explained Sousa.

In a similar vein, Washington-based lobbyists may be quick to write off think tanks as holding little sway over the political landscape — but they’d be mistaken to take this approach in Brussels.

“Think tanks have a lot more say in the EU, in Brussels, than they do in the US,” said DeSarno. “People think about think tanks a little bit in the US, but they’re not nearly as strong as they are in the EU. I think scholarship and academics come in a lot more in the EU than in the US — so having a white paper, having those types of really serious, hard-hitting data and background is much more impressive.”

It’s therefore essential for organisations to have a thorough understanding of how various stakeholders show up in the local policy landscape to be able to make well-informed, impactful decisions on strategic partnerships and approaches.

Conclusion: Brussels vs. Washington DC — Are There More Similarities Than We Think?

Despite the differing set-ups in each city, are there also some commonalities to consider?

“The two cities are very, very different animals,” said Sousa. “But the political challenges facing Europe and the US at this point are actually quite similar. [First] it was the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions, the future of work. [Now] here in Europe and in the US as well, [there is] the whole topic around sustainability, climate change, and energy security. The war in Ukraine is obviously big both in Brussels and the European capitals.”

Needless to say, events in recent years have shown that global challenges require global responses — in areas from healthcare to climate and security. And that trend is unlikely to waver any time soon. That means that there are significant opportunities for policy professionals from both sides of the Atlantic to come together and learn from one another to influence global policy.

“The two continents are actually becoming a lot closer, which is a good thing to see,” said DeSarno. “I think there’s going to be a lot of room for collaboration in the future.”

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