April 3, 2014
A representation of Romanian interests in European and international structures cannot be truly effective without active Romanian representatives in European and international business structures, like corporates and European associations. Firstly you have to be present where needed, and then make them realise their need to act on the measure of power and interests. Of course, there is the private sector in Germany and then there is the Romanian private sector; you have the British one and one at Malta as well, they just aren’t comparable. However, that does not mean that you cannot influence the associations and/or federations just because you come from a poorer country. In Brussels, since it’s not so much a city of business, but a city of the legislation, it matters more how your country is able to influence European policies.
There are many associations and federations in Brussels – in fact, there are approximately 3,000 European industrial federations in Brussels, but major industrial federations do not have to be “missed” by you. There are general organizations such as Business Europe, the European Round Table of Industrialist (ERT), but also niche associations, such as automotive, energy, agriculture associations and beyond. An active presence in Brussels can make the difference between if the quality of future legislation is compatible with the interests of Romanian industry, or if it ignores its wishes.
Actually, in recent years we acted “provincially” many times, considering that Brussels is Brussels and Bucharest is Bucharest. We take care of our business, they take care of theirs. But things are not like that, neither theoretical nor practical. Nowadays, Brussels decides 75% of the legislation that has to be adopted by all member states. Therefore, do not discard European laws just because you ignore them throughout. And this is not just about infringement procedures, but actual European standards development which might harm you if it is decided and then implemented.
Active presence in federations and associations in Brussels helps: it facilitates a rapid alert system between industry colleagues about what we do well, and what could hurt us in the European legislation. The Romanian industry representatives can then alert the MEPs or our Representation to the European Union, so they can take this into account for its position in the Council. However, beyond this basic system, we must understand the usefulness of influence with the increase of people in the hierarchy of institutions: beyond working groups, it is important to be ambitious and aspire to positions of leadership, coordination and so on. If active and ambitious representatives are helped by experienced consultants in the city, we could further grow the Romanian industry in Europe. Models such as the German BDI, the British CBI, and the Italian Confindustria show that it is not impossible, on the contrary!