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6 EU Public Affairs Challenges US Companies Need to Know

6 EU Public Affairs Challenges US Companies Need to Know


Is Europe in such a “terrible state” as former European Union President Romano Prodi said in late August? That might be an exaggeration, but upheaval throughout will affect how public affairs professionals conduct their business in key European capitals.


1. Refugee Crisis: With as many as 750,000 refugees expected to enter Europe in the next few months, mostly through the Balkans and North Africa, public opinion continues to pressure authorities to cap the number of immigrants and refugees. Apart from the broader political changes this crisis can trigger,


it could make it more difficult to hire or re-assign staff to operate beyond their home countries.



2. Greece and the Euro crisis: The German parliament’s approval of the latest Greek bailout gives Greece a few extra months to enact economic reforms, possibly opening up business opportunities in Greece. When it comes to macroeconomics, it’s clear that Germany, the Netherlands and Finland are the most vocal fiscal conservatives, with France the most vociferous opponent of austerity.


3. Brexit: Because many international corporations have their European headquarters in London, a decision after the referendum likely to take place in2016 by Great Britain to exit the EU could have major implications for their regulatory compliance and market access. Britain’s suspension or repeal of environmental, energy or financial regulations as a result has both the business and government relations teams worried, apart from the broader geopolitical implications this would entail.



4. Russian Tensions: While the tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue, sanctions are here to say. That affects agriculture, retail, energy, food and other industries. Trade barriers, export limitations and the loss of Russia as an export market impacts business and government affairs alike.


5. Competition Investigations. The European Commissioner for competition policy has launched high-profile investigations against Google, Amazon, Starbucks and even Eurodisney in Paris, which is assumed to charge different entrance fees, depending on the visitor’s nationality. Public affairs managers can expect more such probes, but despite claims to the contrary, these investigations do not represent anti-US sentiment. It’s just that many of these global players “happen to be” American.



6. TTIP Talks: Technical discussions of the landmark free trade and regulatory cooperation agreement might be wrapped up in 2016.


However, “STOP-TTIP” activism remains intense in Germany, France, Austria and the UK, all potentially major beneficiaries of a deal.


While it might not be advisable for companies to express strong public support for the agreement, it is essential that government affairs professionals continue to engage with policymakers at the Brussels level as well as in national capitals.


On the EU front, the final months of 2015 will be anything but boring.


Posted in EU Affairs, Public Affairs

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