duminică, 18 noiembrie 2012

Launching 'products' in Euro-Brussels

For more than 15 years I live in the particular cultural mix that is Euro-Brussels. I'm interested in decrypting the secrets of this a-typical market, and proposing various products useful for the community. Already for 12 years I contribute to developing the "EurActiv product" (an information portal about the dynamics in EU legislation), with the purpose to bring about transparency of the EU decision-making system. For two years I am honoured to coordinate EurActiv’s offices in 15 European capitals.

Before taking over as Director for Europe at EurActiv, I interacted with industry federations, consulting firms, regions represented in Brussels or NGOs on a daily basis for more than 10 years. I realized that it is a niche market and in 2010 I launched a new product: the EU Federation Knowledge Programme. The programme includes speakers from the main PR/PA agencies in Brussels, who present topics such as ‘new interest groups’, ‘lobbying techniques’, ‘dynamics of European media’, and ‘digitization in European affairs’. It is nice to see that after the success of the past two years, the program continues in 2013.

It is clear that one needs a real map of the Brussels European Community, in order to understand the a-typical structures. Journalists in Brussels are trying to monitor this complex system of institutional and non-institutional information, but the fear of propaganda is certainly big. Moreover, the press is quickly bored of large quantities of technical, specialist information - let alone the general public. I focussed on these concepts when I developed and launched EurActiv’s Press Release Service. The journalists can directly identify the community's press releases issued by European institutions as well as industry federations, NGOs. And if we think that there are approximately 15,000 EU related press releases per year, divided by subject, organization or issue date, this is an impressive product.

For the last 5 years I am directly or indirectly involved in guiding people to find their way in Brussels. It is a fascinating place full of opportunities and competition in each sector. This is not meant to discourage you, but at the same time it is good to have a tailored approach to the current reality. With numerous courses teaching students everything related to discovering the EU and Euro-Brussels, it is surprising to see the knowledge gap most students have. I cannot imagine that most faculties dealing with courses regarding the EU community, and there are hundreds now all across Europe, do not give any importance to explain the "European business market." Motivated by this "niche", I started my consulting company – DL International - that coordinates since 2011 a special training about the "50,000 private sector jobs in European Affairs." I have already held seven sessions, and reactions of the participants included: "But nobody told us of this," "Why is this market not explained at university", "I did not succeed in the EPSO competitions for two years, but I did not realize that I can find a job in an industry federation".

Prospecting the market, I noticed that there is an underappreciated segment in Brussels: the entrepreneurs, and more specific the intraprepreneurs. As Richard Branson recently said on the intrapreneur: the employee "who is offered freedom and financial support needed to create new products, services and systems that do not need to undergo the company’s usual routines or protocols". Together with Maria Laptev we launched a new offer, especially for those who want to conduct business in Brussels. Symbolically entitled "How to Make Money in European affairs in Brussels?", we try to guide those interested in choosing the best path to success. Maria knows Brussels and the EU private sector business better than any expert and it’s no coincidence that she now is CEO of ECPA (European Centre for Public Affairs). Again, there are over a million contracts carried out in the capital of Europe. The amounts allocated to communication in Brussels by multinationals are huge. A study evaluating stated that the communication budget of about 400 corporations in Brussels (only European business offices) is about 71 million annually. And this figure is only related to the private sector, we can easily add about another 50 million per year that is available to consultants of the European institutions. The new initiative, the training on 'Brussels actors' and the consulting services they can offer, had a fantastic inaugural public on October 25, 2012. The next presentation, with great interest, will be in March 2013.

My thoughts are still on Romania, even after 15 years living in the capital of Europe. In 2003 I founded the “Romanian-EU” Club in Brussels, a platform for Romanians in Euro-Brussels. A study conducted in 2006 about the "Footprint of Romania in Brussels" was a project that showed Romania has given a signal that it wants a structured relationship with the European Union.

Dan LUCA / Brussels

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