European Elections are approaching – what should a company do? 

Many ask us at Lykke Advice about our predictions for the upcoming European elections.  How will the Parliament look after the vote between the 6th and 9th of June 2024? Who will be the new Commissioners? Who will occupy the 720 seats in the European Parliament? We can come with assumptions as to how the new Parliament and Commission will look like, but what we find more important, especially for companies, is to focus on what to do in terms of public affairs during the months of election campaigning.  

Many organisations and companies are suggesting cutting back on activities during the busiest election months in May and June. However not many are asking themselves what they, as a company, can get out of being active during the election period. 

How can an individual company engage? 

Lykke Advice has observed that few individual companies take an active part and engage in the elections. The most cited reason from companies is that they wish to remain politically neutral, while others just don’t think their actions will have an impact. 

Let us be clear. You can engage and remain neutral – just make sure that you invite a broad set of MEP candidates from different parties. E.g. if you organise a debate at the premises of the company, then do it with candidates from 3-4 different parties and make sure to have a good moderator. If you do visits to your company, make sure again that you invite broadly. 

This should not only be for your company to remain neutral but also for you to get the message across to several groups in the European Parliament. Nothing is decided by one MEP from one country. If you are a Swedish company, you might have the easiest access to Swedish MEP candidates, but the broader you engage, the broader a platform you will have inside the European Parliament when you need to raise your issue there. Then, it will be a world of difference if you have met with MEPs from 3-4 groups (e.g. EPP, ECR, S&D, RENEW, GREENS) rather than just one MEP from one single group.  

Moreover, we see a tendency towards groups voting together on legislative proposals – keeping a group line. You rarely vote on a country line – most often you will vote with your fellow conservative members or socialist members.  

Should you write a manifesto? 

Many umbrella or sector associations do a manifesto that they send around to current members of the European Parliament who are running again and candidates with a chance of getting elected. Some of them also arrange national debates and engage that way. It is a clever way for an umbrella organisation to engage in the debate and internally it can function as an exercise to keep members on the same message and see the same goals. Therefore, for associations an election manifesto can have a two-fold purpose – both internally and externally.   

However, we would only recommend it to umbrella organisations or sector associations to write a manifesto. If you are a smaller individual company, it will be less impactful, and it would be much better to highlight your priorities in a bilateral meeting or a panel debate with candidates. Our recommendation for an SME would also be to start with MEPs/MEP candidates in your home country or another country where you have a big market.  

Election themes 

We can be sure that no matter what the election themes are, things can change rather quickly. Who would have imagined the EU playing a significant role in the European Health policy before 2020? Who predicted the acceleration of green energy transition policies after the Russian invasion of Ukraine? So, we might discuss one thing during the election campaign, but it might be a completely other thing the new MEPs and Commission will have to work with. 

We believe constant engagement pays off in the long run. Even if, in the ideal world, it should not work like that, most of the EP candidates are more willing to visit a company during the election period than when they have a busy agenda in Brussels and Strasbourg to attend to.  

For the most important topics, we assume they will remain the same. There is still an aftermath of the pandemic in terms of economic recovery, creating more jobs, securing important skills in Europe, and reinforcing the EU single market. The green transition and in particular energy security will remain an important discussion and more legislation will have to be formed here – especially when we get more knowledge and innovation in the area. The discussion around digitalisation will continue to be important and as AI develops into more sectors this will have to remain a priority for the new Commission and Parliament.    

The new Commission 

When it comes to the Commission, as a company you can choose two ways. Either you sit back and wait until the overall strategy has been set by the coming Commission President and for the individual mission letters for each Commissioner to be formulated. The way to engage there is to play an active role via the Parliament to suggest questions and comments to the hearings.  

Or you can also choose a more active role and try to influence the strategy of the new Commission, come up with suggestions, raise awareness on certain issues and problems and highlight good practices from different countries. Every EU public affairs professional knows that engaging at a very early stage may require a bit more work, but the payoff is also significantly higher.  

As the European Commission’s legislating activities are slowing down, the individual Directorate Generals are also starting to discuss what should be prioritised in the next term. This opens a window of opportunities for a company to influence the Commission officials’ to-do list for the next 5 years. 

To conclude 

Engaging in politics should be seen as a long-term investment for an SME. It is not something that will bring immediate commercial benefits, but it does pay off in the long run. By contributing throughout the legislative process, there is a greater chance for new legislation to reflect the needs of your business and encourage its sustainable growth. Political engagement also allows your company to be familiar with the contents of new legislation ahead of time, providing better preparation for its implementation. Lastly, if you can promote an innovative solution that your company offers, it can be the basis for the drafting of future EU funding programs.  

If you are interested in knowing more about how we can help your company get engaged during the EU elections, please reach out to us. Lykke Advice specialises in helping SMEs get their voices and interests heard by EU policymakers. 


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