January 7, 2013
The policy decisions of our governments often affect our work in association management. As we look ahead to 2013, we at Kellen Europe are looking out for the regulatory trends that will be relevant to association member expectations and operations. These trends were discussed at Kellen Europe’s annual European Union briefing in Washington DC. held 11 December, and at the Association Executive lunch held 29 November in Brussels. With each over 60 participants in attendance, the two events brought together representatives from US and Europe based associations, who discussed key trends.
Here is an overview of the EU’s economic and policy development that is impacting associations:
- Proposals for a banking regulation as well as a “Banking Union”: In that Union, EU’s 6,000 banks will be supervised by Central Bank authorities. In practice, bigger banks will be monitored more closely. While this could impact credit flows, it should also remove financial uncertainty for businesses in Europe.
- Food labeling: In response to regulatory challenges, food companies of every size and product range will need to decide adopting more precise labeling. This will indirectly impact dozens of associations in Europe and in USA.
- European Energy Efficiency directive: Like food labeling, this will be a game changer for energy related companies, to achieve 1.5% savings every year; plus a revamp of Europe’s building stock, and new standards for public procurement and energy audits.
- Data protection: This issue is applicable to any association. It has been called privacy regulation on local and regional levels. What started as a European wide harmonization, which is positive in itself, the longer term outcome will increasingly pose challenges for your association (and members) to “move data across the Atlantic.” There is an attempt to converge EU and US rules, but it will mean imposing stricter rather than looser practices.
- Potential Free Trade Agreement between the US and EU: The economic and trade relationship between the EU and the US is still the largest in the world by any measure. It is also unique in how balanced it is, with the direct foreign investment from both sides around 1,6 trillion euro. Jobs in the EU and the US -15 million according to some estimates – are supported directly or indirectly by transatlantic trade and investment. By middle of March, expect the start of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement between the US and the EU. While a start of this is only expected in spring 2013, an agreement may longer term be a benefit for businesses and the associations they are members of.
Some of the other trends on operating your association most effectively, whether your HQ is in Europe or USA, include:
- Re-structuring of European associations, more direct European membership, the formation of coalitions and alliances and the emergence of an efficient European association landscape.
- Increasing importance for European associations having a strong value proposition to attract and retain members. At the Executive lunch in Brussels, the speakers stated the importance of reporting Key Performance Indicators to the governing board.
- More need to invest in leadership and professionalism of staff and volunteers.
What do you see as the key trends from EU policy affecting associations? Are any of the ones I listed above a “hot topic” for your group already?