BRUSSELS (May 16, 2012) — Over 100 association and corporate executives met at EuroConference 2012 to discuss best practices for associations in the European Union. Hosted by Kellen Europe, an association management company, EuroConference is the premier annual forum for association discussions in Brussels.
“The EuroConference 2012 edition comes at a pivotal moment for the European economies. Our topics and themes underline the critical role that associations play in the European Union,” said Alfons Westgeest, Managing Partner, Kellen Europe. “Associations and their dealings with the public, the media, governments and businesses are more important than ever. Participants held wide ranging discussions and also offered solutions on how best to operate associations in the European as well as global arena.”
The keynote speech was given by Guntram Wollf, Deputy Director of the economic policy think tank Bruegel. Other noted panelists and speakers on the opening plenary session included:
- Marie Donnay, Deputy Head of Unit DG ECFIN, European Commission
- Karl Cox, Vice Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU
- Erika Mann, Director EU Affairs, Facebook
- Thérèse de Liedekerke, Managing Director of Business Europe
“In order to find a balance between growth and employment, the European Union needs to ensure sound public finances and implement structural reforms that improve the competitiveness of companies,” said Thérèse de Liedekerke. “There is a need for intelligent solidarity in and between the member states, by creating flexible and sound social security systems and labor legislation. The European Union will need to grow out of the crisis, and that will only be possible by putting company development first.”
“The main strengths of the European Union are our highly competitive markets, our highly educated workforce, the diversity within the EU and the presence of innovative and strong companies in various industries and sectors. With regards to the latter however, the challenge is to create and stimulate innovative start-up companies that will create jobs and ensure growth, next to the well-established larger, existing companies. We should also not forget that the EU can benefit from its position as the largest investor and exporter on a global level. There is great potential for growth if Europe takes advantage of the high economic potential in countries on our doorstep in an arc flowing from Russia through Turkey to the Gulf states and across to North Africa,” said Karl Cox. “There have been many challenges for the European Union over the past years, such as the need for structural reforms. Hopefully, in the face of the current serious economic situation some of these will be addressed with a higher sense of urgency,” he concluded.
Following lunch, Mark Dober, Senior Director from Ellwood & Atfield, the search and selection consultancy, gave an exclusive preview of their latest report on EU Business Associations in Brussels.
The break-out sessions at EuroConference 2012 covered following topics: “Trends in Lobbying”, “How to Successfully Combine Digital and Traditional Media in your Organization’s Communication Strategy”, and “Human Resources in Associations”.
A Closing Plenary debate on “Strategic Planning: Best Practices & Case studies” concluded a day of learning, sharing best practices, and connecting with peers.