The New EU Commission and Parliament are coming. Are your stakeholders your allies?

As Europe navigates the end of one political term and transitions to the next,  now is the time to think ahead as to how this will impact your business or organisation and plan your engagement accordingly.

In today’s complex policy landscape, alliances with stakeholders are needed to progress agendas. The issues on the table are big and solutions often need to be co-created. The commitment to net zero requires each and everyone of us to act and businesses have to consider ESG compliance in their supply chain; Companies need to consider how they develop and use AI, protect consumers online, and ensure they, their products, and supply chains are cyber secure. The pandemic has taught us all that health matters and that we need joined-up thinking across countries, governments, and stakeholders. Across the board, stakeholders need to collaborate on a holistic approach and thrash out the win/ win.

In this article, we offer some of our top-line advice, on how to make a difference and shape policy that works for you.

Don't do it alone

As the proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In our 20+ years of experience at FIPRA, we have conceived coalitions  and led alliances on issues from protecting consumer choice in the microchip market to safeguarding the use of medical imaging technology in EU legislation and supporting market access in the mobility sector. Each time the public interest voice expressed in the alliance won while the narrow set of arguments of a single player simply failed to move the dial. Alliances are a game changer for successful organisations to build trust, improve performance, foster innovation and overall create more value for all parties involved. In the increasingly noisy space in EU advocacy, the need for aligned voices is even more vital to success. Your stakeholders should become ambassadors on the critical issues at hand.

Open, flexible and transparent

Engage early on with all stakeholders who have a vested interest in the issue at stake, mapping the benefit of the desired outcome for each. We suggest approaching stakeholders from diverse groups, considering different disciplines, gender and geographic location and ensuring transparency in the process. It can often seem messy at the beginning, but don’t let that faze you -  the benefits outweigh the risks. Let members give time, resources, and expertise according to their means and interests. And let leaders tap their personal relationships to recruit others. As new participants join, the reach of an alliance can broaden and receptivity to your goals can extend beyond its membership.

Low barriers to entry also mean low barriers to exit. It’s important to remember that allies may fade away if they disagree rather than making a fuss.  Clear and co-defined KPIs ensure momentum and ensure  you deliver on your goals. In an increasingly complex world, risks need to be mitigated and stakeholder alliances will  be increasingly relevant if they can respond robustly and with agility.

Overcome the trust deficit

A trust deficit is the greatest challenge you’re likely to face. Bringing diverse people and organisations, including competitors, together under a shared policy agenda can be challenging. In these groups, it’s important to set a level playing field so that each constituency has ownership of the initiative and vests in the trusted, safe space required for open debate.  This is vital to address real or perceived imbalance of power often associated with different levels of financial resources. Identifying where the tension points arise and ensuring that funders cannot override an agenda is vital.

Ensuring a safe space for open dialogue with an honest broker who can call out issues and navigate the group through dissent is also essential. Steering groups to represent each interest can help build trust in a formal alliance.

Many clients come to us after lack of robust governance has undermined their alliance’s progress. Our work ensures that each stakeholder is seen as equally valid and that each position aligns to the mission of the alliance.

Collaborate to innovate

The best-led alliances enable collaboration that can break down silos and allow innovative solutions to emerge. In this milieu,  ideas not considered before can be tabled, unconventional teams of advocates can be developed and all sorts of  ‘firsts’ can be co-created. Although the primary toolbox of policymakers is legislation, innovative solutions are often found outside the regulatory framework. You’ll be more likely to discover these when you are collaborating constructively with your stakeholders.

And when you do find yourself at the policymakers table, our experience is that they’re likely to appreciate that you’re bringing a novel co-created solution to their attention.

Accept compromise

Compromise is built into politics and also needs to be built into your alliance. There’s often no way to please everyone. A good broker knows that stepping away from red lines takes courage and requires agility. They can facilitate these difficult decisions and help members see the wisdom in compromise. Fundamental to this acceptance will be ensuring that the alliance has broadly delivered on the original objectives as well as ensuring each member has visibly achieved an outcome of value to them.

Your alliance partner and broker

Whatever your business or industry, we bring our deep expertise in process and  trust-building to deliver sustained and impactful engagement. Your special combination of interests will likely merit a customised approach to alliance building; we have particular experience in disruptive innovation,  where your success becomes a part of the solution to the policy agenda.

Key assets that FIPRA can provide  to manage the process and tackle your issues:

  • INSIGHTS  on the issue and the alliances that are the best response
  • STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGIES  to deliver positive impact 
  • GOVERNANCE & KPIS  to implement effectively
  • ADVOCACY & COMMUNICATIONS -  external  &  internal

We can co-create with you. We have talent and expertise in Green Transition and ESG, Digital & Tech, Healthcare, Life Sciences & Wellbeing, Transport, Travel & Logistics, Trade and Competition.

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