At a time of economic crisis, most industry federations and their members agree that the ability to influence EU policy by lobbying is federations’ biggest added value for business, according to a EURACTIV survey presented on 6 April.
86% of business representatives and 85% of federations themselves see lobbying the EU institutions as their most useful role, according to a survey on public affairs memberships presented to the 2009 general assembly of the Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) in Brussels.
Activities related to monitoring (85%) and communicating (82%) EU policies are considered more important by federations themselves than by their members (61% and 55% respectively), according to the survey.
Indeed, federations also value representation in Brussels far more highly (84%) than business (20%).
Regular email contact
Industry federations (52%) and business (69%) agree that the biggest challenge for federations is balancing members’ differing interests, with the majority in contact with one another on a weekly, or to a lesser extent daily, basis.
Email is by far and away the preferred medium for such communication (93% corporate; 87% federations), the survey found, but face-to-face contact is nevertheless highly valued (61% and 67% respectively).
As for federations themselves, 45% said that staff and resource shortages are affecting their ability to fulfil their role effectively, and 39% identified differences in their members’ size and budgets as a problem.
Federations expect membership increases
Over half of federations (51%) expect their membership to increase in the years to come, albeit modestly, with just 5% predicting a decrease. Corporate respondents, on the other hand, largely expect federation memberships to remain stable (49%), while 41% of federations themselves think likewise.
Federation membership tends to be composed of a mixture of national associations and businesses (35%), with corporate members on the rise over the past year as a result of the economic crisis.
Companies are also joining an increasing number of associations, according to the survey, with almost half (49%) members of more than five. 90% of corporate respondents consider federation membership to be an important means of achieving their public affairs objectives.
Monday’s SEAP general assembly elected a new board, which will convene for the first time in May to decide upon members’ positions and responsibilities, including the identity of the new president.
Current SEAP President Lyn Trytsman-Gray has held the position since December 2006.