Two think tanks dominate the Brussels energy landscape, however the Brussels bunch still lag behind their American counterparts
It was the best of times, it was the burst of times
Last week, while discussing the merits of a newly released ‘2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report’ with my colleague James, he asked me whom I considered to be the most influential think tanks in Brussels when it came to energy policy?
Immediately I responded that it was either CEPS or Bruegel, depending on the issue and angle at hand. However, as the conversation progressed I noted to my surprise, that think tanks are not as influential in driving the Brussels agenda as their US counterparts.
So what defines an ‘influential’ think tank? Why are think tanks in Brussels less impressive than in the US? And why are CEPS and Bruegel more impressive than their peers?
Having studied at an American university, where a writing policy paper in an influential think tank was deemed second only to a high political posting in a student administration, I expected that the EU versions of Brookings, Carnegie and CATO would drive the policy debate, while also acting as something like ‘stop gaps’ for politically affiliated high achievers.
However, once in Brussels, I realized that the “think tank culture” is not as well developed as across the Atlantic. In a piece that stirred much controversy in the Brussels bubble a few years ago, the Charlemagne columnist for the Economist provided two very valid explanations 1) too many Brussels think tanks accept large chunks of their funding from EU institutions and national governments 2) Others depend on big corporate sponsors, so that the lines between research and lobbying become easily blurred.
Thus, the root of the problem from an EU perspective certainly does seem to be money, or rather the lack of ‘no strings attached’ money, which funds independent research in the USA. However, despite facing similar structural disadvantages, what is it that makes Bruegel and CEPS stand out from the crowd?
Granted both seem to be better funded than their peers. According to a Commission study conducted in 2012, CEPS and Bruegel have an excess budget of 6 and 4 million euros respectively. (In addition to public funding, their corporate donors can be accessed here and here).
In addition, both have a diverse funding base. A diverse funding base is seen as critical, as otherwise one may end up being overly reliant on one source; and however benevolent that one may seem on the face of it, it could create trouble at some point in time in the future. Nobody likes to bite the hand that feeds it. (A diagrammatic illustration of CEPS diversified funding sources can be accessed here)
However, I would argue that it is both their manpower and relevant expertise with the policy issues at hand that raises them above the rest. With a town that features more lobbyists than Washington, knowledge of the EU Energy & Climate policy agenda and being able to adapt ones research programme accordingly, is a key component for success.
Knowledge and adaptability are the weaknesses of CEPS’ and Bruegel’s competitors, since too often the temptation to overindulge in big picture of geo-political energy issues and report on conferences supersedes the need to provide insights and analyses of issues such as the ETS, 2030 Climate & Energy Package or Fuel Quality Directive, which are relevant on the ground and which all lobbyists in Brussels require.
Indeed, a well thought and timely idea can go far (note the explosion of the TED talks series). In addition, EU policymakers are always open to taking them on board. The most striking example in recent times was the Commission’s proposal to reform the EU carbon market, published on January 22nd. The proposal was largely based on the International Emissions Trading Association’s (IETA) consultation submission calling for the creation of an EU ETS structural reserve, with the deflationary and inflationary capabilities somewhat akin to what the European Central bank has on monetary policy.
Looking ahead, while the calendar of the institutions may be increasingly bare in advance of the upcoming elections, for think tanks, the next few weeks will be crucial. This week Bruegel will be hosting the new Directorate General of DG Energy Dominique Ristori on the ‘Instruments for Energy Transition’, while CEPS will be looking at the current ‘big issue’ on the policy agenda; drivers of energy prices for energy intensive industries.
Both events promise to be timely and relevant policy discussions, dealing with issues of priority for the Brussels energy agenda.
The top 5 Brussels think tanks on energy policy
- CEPS: The crème de la crème of Brussels energy think tanks. Very much on the pulse of the Brussels policy agenda, CEPS has particular expertise in climate change issues such as carbon pricing, carbon leakage and the drivers of energy prices.
- Bruegel: More hardcore economics based than CEPS, the reputable George Zachmann tends to focus on issues such as market design, renewable support schemes and the EU ETS.
- Friends of Europe: Its annual Friends of Europe Summit is probably the number one energy event in Brussels.
- German Marshall Fund: Coming from a foreign and security policy background, GMF is particularly strong on energy security aspects, hosts a number interesting workshops on energy security both the CEE and Baltic region.
- Institute Francais des relations internationals (IFRI): More an academic think tank than an advocacy one, it has a strong team of experts, providing geopolitical energy analysis.
(Think tanks without special energy practices excluded)
What is a thinktank?
For those who are interested in analysing the definition of ‘think tank’ Steven Boucher defines them as bodies which:
- are somewhat permanent;
- specialise in the production of public policy solutions;
- have in-house staff dedicated to research;
- produce ideas, analysis and advice;
- communicate its findings to policy-makers and public opinion;
- not be responsible for government operations;
- maintain research freedom and independence from specific interests;
- not grant degrees or have training as its primary activity;
- seek, explicitly or implicitly, to act in the public interest.
In addition, he specifically highlights four main types of think tanks:
- academic think tanks (or universities without students)
- advocacy think tanks (which McGann prefers to call “engagement” TTs)
- contract research organisations
- political party think tanks
Source: S. Boucher (ed.), Europe and its Think Tanks: A Promise to Be Fulfilled, Notre Europe, Paris, Studies and Research, no. 35, October 2004.
February 24, 2014
FleishmanHillard Brussels flew the Irish flag over their offices (well, metaphorically speaking) last week when over 70 of Ireland’s diaspora gathered to meet 20 of Ireland’s candidates for the upcoming European Parliament and Local Council Elections, in support of the Irish NGO, Women for Election.
The event presented a unique opportunity not just to meet the candidates ahead of the elections on the 23rd May, but to hear keynote speeches from three European figures on their own campaign experiences.
New European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly spoke of her trials and tribulations in running her campaign last year, while Swedish MEP Mikael Gustafsson (Chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality) and German MEP Silvana Koch-Mehrin, illustrated the ups and downs of running for parliamentary positions.
The discussion also touched on the imminent challenges facing the European Parliament and all MEP candidates ahead of the elections, such as connecting with the people of Europe and generating greater clarity on the role, relevance and responsibilities of the EU.
Our host partners for the event – Women for Election co-founders Niamh Gallagher and Michelle O’Donnell Keating – underlined the specific difficulties women face in entering politics and described their efforts as a non-partisan movement to achieve gender equality in government both in Ireland and at the European level.
In a year of institutional change, this particular gathering revealed some of the issues facing both individual MEP candidates and Europe’s political leadership as a whole in the run up to the elections.
February 18, 2014
Earlier this week I attended the Berlin Energy Forum, previously known as the “Berlin Fossil Fuels Forum”. Beyond the valuable networking opportunity, the event came with a reaffirmation of Germany’s central place for EU energy policy and some questions about the role and status of fossil fuels in policy discussions.
Germany: not just one amongst others
In Brussels we want to believe that large Member States have equal chances of influencing EU policy discussions. When it comes to energy policy, it is however hard not to notice the huge impact that Germany has over the policy debate.
In 2011 Germany launched the most radical energy reform with its Energiewende. On Monday Sigmar Gabriel, the new Vice-Chancellor in charge of economic and energy policy, set out the reasons behind this truly bold political decision. And he is convinced that other countries will follow. Of course this ‘Energy Turn’ is first known as the complete phase-out of nuclear by 2022 but it is also more generally the complete change in power sources, with a large and rapid boost for renewable energies. Three issues have emerged as a result and are now at the heart of EU energy policy discussions:
1) Energy Costs: Germany’s push for renewable energies led to what was described by the Commission in Berlin as ‘overcompensation’, especially for solar. Does it not seem strange that, of all sunny places in the world, 35% of global solar capacity is now located in Germany? As a result of this massive increase in renewable subsidies, a German household pays an extra €260 a year on its electricity bill.
2) State Aid: DG Competition recently brought a case against Germany and the exemptions from the EEG (Renewable Energy Act) for energy-intensive industries. Should they stop being exempted, German energy-intensives could face a net increase in electricity price of up to 50€/MWh. Exemptions from renewable surcharges are also a major topic of the draft State Aid Guidelines for Energy and Environment, open to consultation until tonight.
3) Coal vs. Gas: To provide stability and back up intermittent renewables, Germany is burning more cheap coal (lignite), whilst German gas power plants are being mothballed. Experts argue that Germany will miss its 40% GHG reduction target by 2030 because of this ‘coal renaissance’ in the country.
Due to the issues described above, the Energiewende is considered from abroad with a degree of scepticism. The future will tell us if the German energy revolution delivers on its promises. One thing is sure: it will continue to set the energy policy agenda in Brussels.
Fossil Fuels: In or Out?
This year, the Commission considered that the previous focus on Fossil Fuels was no longer relevant or appropriate and decided to focus instead on more horizontal topics, roughly corresponding to the inevitable energy triangle: sustainability, security of supply and competitiveness. It doesn’t mean that fossil fuels were kept out of the programme. Nuclear, coal and natural gas representatives were largely involved in discussions. However, the Berlin Energy Forum didn’t address the challenges of primary energy supply, largely focusing instead on the power market. This led to some confusion, especially as the Commission had planned an additional session outside of the official programme to discuss oil and gas supply.
Clearly the Commission wants to send a signal that Europe needs to move away from fossil fuels. This is part of a broader story of progress, of Europe reducing emissions and declaring its “energy independence” (as quite provocatively described recently on the Commission’s Twitter account). Some may argue that this story also needs to be grounded in reality. And the reality today is that, as Fatih Birol pointed out during the debate, fossil fuels still represent 82% of the global energy mix, only expected to fall to 76% by 2035.
Whilst the Commission should more clearly acknowledge that fossil fuels cannot simply be dismissed from discussions, it is also the fossil fuels industry’s role to demonstrate they can be a part of this story of progress, by emphasising their immense innovation and technological expertise and by demonstrating they can be used in more energy-efficient ways in the future. They may not have their own separate forum anymore, but this gives them a great opportunity to show to the Commission that they can contribute to discussions in a constructive manner.
February 14, 2014
A few weeks ago, Aaron and I presented at the European Public Affairs Action Day, the “grand-messe” of public affairs professionals. We talked about different approaches to political communications and presented our 5 golden rules to political communications to win votes. For those who couldn’t join, here is a summary!
Aaron and I have been lucky to closely follow the recent reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy for the Swedish foundation BalticSea2020. After 2 years of intense campaigning, we could draw a number of conclusions from the success of the campaign (you can see what the campaign was about here).
What made this campaign different? How did we win? You learn a lot spending 17,520 hours campaigning on one issue, but I think it can be summarised into 5 golden rules.
The number of stakeholders in Brussels can be quite overwhelming – yet, once we had done the necessary background research and network analysis (a good book here on understanding the power of social networks), we were able to identify the maximum 200 people who mattered for our client’s issues, at the EU and national levels.
These are the ones we then focused on and built relationships with to create the broader winning coalition. Also, we realised it was not worth spending too much energy on the opponents, but rather help our supporters – which luckily we had with Fish For the Future, and also potential new followers.
This might sound simplistic, but understanding what makes people tick is your key to success. As Chris Rose explains in his book, you need to understand where your audiences are coming from and what will make them listen to you.
Being in the shoes of the politicians can be very useful – we are all too prone to use jargon and technicalities. To be fair to them, politicians cannot be experts in every issue they deal with on a daily basis, from banking regulation to horsemeat scandals and marine protected area. Being able to communicate important and useful information in a way they understand will make your contribution valuable and acted on. See here how fisheries can be made simple and sexy.
- Be Reactive and Adaptable
Although it was tempting to have a two year strategy plan, we have to admit that we don’t have a crystal ball and we are not psychic. Instead, we had rolling three-month action plan which allowed us to regularly review our short to mid-term strategy, adapt to new opportunities, and adapt our work. The ability to adapt and react to changing situations allowed us to remain relevant to our audiences. It also allows any client to have a clear picture of how things really are progressing.
As Aaron likes to say: “telepathy doesn’t work”. You need to get out there, talk to the people who matter, hear their questions and answer them in an understandable way. We were lucky enough to have a client who was an excellent spokesperson for his organisation.
You need someone who can gather support, motivate and convince. Some people are naturally more at ease talking on behalf of their companies. In truth, with a small amount of coaching, most people can become persuasive advocates for their interests.
- Invest the Necessary Resources
Success requires resources: time, people, and money. It requires commitment and endurance. But, it is all worth it to win a vote
Sophie and Aaron
February 12, 2014
With the new Energy and Climate Framework, the European Commission strikes a fine balance between climate protection and competitiveness, with the latter taking precedence.
Last week, the European Commission came forward with the most wide-ranging set of energy and climate proposals since 2008. The proposals, encompassing binding and non-binding commitments in GHG reductions, energy efficiency and renewable energy, will provide a framework for EU energy and climate policy for the next 15 years. To find out about the details of the package, read the FH analysis here. The 2030 Communication and the other proposals issued last week are reflective of two broad trends that are currently driving EU Climate and Energy Policy, 1) How difficult it is becoming to find a ‘grand bargain’ on key Energy and Climate issues at the EU level and 2) How the policy focus has shifted towards competitiveness.
Sticking a difficult compromise
Designing a new Climate and Energy Framework was always going to be contentious but after five years of expensive carbon abatement policies, coupled with recession and deindustrialisation, the political environment makes agreements on energy and climate matters increasingly challenging. For the 2030 Framework, tricky compromises had to be built between Member States with dissimilar energy mixes, between Directorate-Generals with non-complementary portfolios and between different industries who feel that their concerns have been ignored for too long.
- Compromising amongst Member States: Within Europe Member States have very different energy mixes and thus interests. By proposing a 27% renewable energy target but non-binding individual national targets the Commission has sought to strike a compromise between Member States such as the UK who wants maximum competency to determine its energy mix and Germany, who has decided to phase out nuclear energy and produce 45% of its energy from renewables from 2030.
- Compromising within Commission Directorates: Within the European Commission, varying DGs have very different priorities. While DG Climate Action was set up to turn the EU into a leader in the protection of the planet against climate change, other DGs such as DG Enterprise and DG Energy have grown increasingly weary of DG CLIMA’s policies. Indeed, the presentation of the package only came after a last-minute agreement between Commissioner Hedegaard and Oettinger. The Energy Commissioner was initially in favour of a 35% GHG reduction target.
- Compromise in the industry: The Commission was also keen to demonstrate its commitment to boosting industry in Europe, and show that the EU could stay ambitious on climate without the industry being hit. While lacking substance, the Commission did release an industry Communication “For a European Renaissance”. Most telling however was the Commission’s decision to reform the ETS through a supply adjustment mechanism which would not intervene in phase 3 of the ETS and which in their own words would be designed in such a way so as to “mitigate impacts on industry and sectors exposed to carbon leakage”. The Commission also announced that it would maintain its existing framework for determining sectors exposed to carbon leakage and continue to base its assessment on a 30 euro carbon price. This was a key request from DG Enterprise in the grand bargaining process and goes against Ms Hedegaard’s ambitions expressed last year to significantly reduce the number of sectors exposed in order to reestablish balance in the system.
Has the balance tipped towards competitiveness?
Looking back at the last decade, the proposals seem to represent a new policy focus for President Barroso, if not a policy u-turn: after making jobs and growth a priority with the Lisbon Strategy in the beginning of his mandate and spearheading climate change policy in 2008, the end of his term will be marked by a shift towards competitiveness. At an event last week Dominique Ristori, who has recently succeeded to Philip Lowe as Head of DG Energy, said that in 30 years industry has never been listened to as much as now. He might be right. The 2030 Communication does indeed reveal a shift towards competitiveness to alleviate industry concerns. Even if the Commission noted in a new study that energy prices and the ETS had little impact so far on industrial competitiveness, it also anticipates an upward pressure on energy costs in the EU.
Next steps now
The documents issued last week by the Commission will form the basis of the institutions’ agenda for the coming year. It is unclear at this stage what could be the focus of the mandate received by the Commission from European leaders at the March Council, as the 2030 consultation revealed divergences on targets and the level of ambition. Whilst some Member States are against a new GHG reduction target before any global climate agreement (Poland, Czech Republic, Romania), a majority is likely to support the 40% target proposed (UK, France, Spain, Denmark). It will also remain to be seen if Member States can support the flexible approach proposed by the EU executive on renewables. Will it be considered robust enough by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal, whose Environment ministers had called for a renewable energy target in a letter to the European Commission in December? On the other hand, the wait-and-see approach to energy efficiency should suit Member States.
Next week in Strasbourg MEPs are likely to confirm their call for 3 binding targets: 40% GHG reduction, 30% renewable energy and 40% energy efficiency. Based on initial MEP reactions and past experience, the Parliament will likely push for a much more ambitious package than proposed by the Commission. Will this be confirmed by the next Parliament, who will be asked to react to concrete proposals put forward by the Commission later this year? Let the bargaining begin!
Cillian O’Donoghue and Clara Lemaire
January 28, 2014
This question could not be timelier given the recent momentum in the area of security and defence, with the European Council last December discussing defence for the first time since 2005 (!).
Last Wednesday, we were honoured to welcome Rini Goos, Deputy Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency; Robert G. Bell, U.S. Secretary of Defense Representative, Europe and Defense Advisor to the U.S. Mission to NATO; and Dr Jamie Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges at NATO to our offices as speakers to discuss exactly that question at a roundtable event. FH’s Dan Baxter, SVP and Partner as well as Global Manufacturing and Industrials lead moderated the discussion.
Pooling and sharing of defence capabilities was a recurring theme, as expected; in an age of austerity defence cooperation makes sense to provide the efficiencies and savings that Member States so desire. Whilst regional alliances and coalitions of willing Member States were encouraged in terms of cooperation, we were also reminded of how we are still far off from an ideal situation (or even a definition of what such a situation might look like).
Although there are still challenges facing Europe such as capability shortfalls, affecting its ability to lead and partner with its allies, the EU is increasingly being recognised as a credible actor in the security and defence arena. Huge steps have been taken since the inception of the CSDP, but the question of a wider strategy or ultimate goal remains. Will the EU remain active in its current niche, with smaller missions largely focused on Africa? Will it set a goal of strategic autonomy, whether that means a full spectrum of capabilities or a range of tools for peace-keeping and security, or will progress be reversed? The question was, perhaps, actively avoided by Baroness Ashton at the recent Council in order not to impede progress on smaller, incremental steps to a common approach.
During the discussion it also became apparent that the premise of European defence cooperation, greater transparency, and joint planning is not accepted by all. Some argued that regional and alliance cooperation does not necessarily require EU involvement, nor do all citizens and nations share the view that European aggregation of defence capabilities is the best way forward.
As for the near future, the Greek Presidency has promised to focus on maritime security and the forthcoming Italian Presidency has promised to keep defence on the agenda as well. The European Council in June 2015 will then take stock of what progress has been made since December 2013. As one participant so ably put it, everyone knows what needs to happen to make European security and defence cooperation work. We just need to get into action and that remains easier said than done.
Lorraine and Pamela
January 28, 2014
If Davos made people ‘feel like a kid-in-a-candy shop’, then the Energy Forum in Sopot, Poland triggered the same feeling among energy geeks. This year’s edition was held on 16-18 December 2013, and featured debates about about energy situation in Central Europe, the outlook for gas markets in Europe, the role of renewables in the national energy systems and how Germany’s ‘Energiewende’ will impact neighbouring countries. One could learn about the electricity grids between Lithuania and Poland; which direction Ukraine looks when it comes to its energy policy and how the Norwegian energy system influences Central Europe. Participants also discussed ‘local’ issues such as the role of coal, shale gas and nuclear energy in the Polish economy.
The event was a great opportunity to have a quick ‘crash course’ on what the Polish energy system currently looks like and what we can expect in the coming years. You can find some of the presentations and materials here.
Did you know?
- At the beginning of 2014, Poland will publish its 2050 energy strategy, which will showcase the direction the country would like to take in the next 30+ years. While details remain unknown, shale gas and trans-border gas connections will be featured. Security of supply will be also included in the strategy;
- In 2014, The Polish National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management will distribute 240 million Euro to support development of renewable energy in the country;
- In 2014 Poland may obtain 202 million Euro from the sale of CO2 emission rights, while in 2015 this figure could rise to 245 million Euro;
- The three biggest suppliers of electricity in Poland predict a 6 percent drop in the price of electricity in 2014;
- Polish shale gas regulation will most probably be sent for consideration to the Council of Ministers at the beginning of 2014;
- By the end of next year, Gas Transmission Operator Gaz-System will allocate 192 million Euro into the expansion of Polish gas infrastructure;
- A new Polish Law on Renewable Energy will come into force at the beginning of 2015.
And finally next year Poland and nine other Eastern European Counties will celebrate their 10th anniversary of EU accession. Much has changed since that time and countries are still very busy with improving their energy systems, ensuring security of supply and working out their own energy path.
January 10, 2014
The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is here to stay and stakeholders share a common vision on how to fix it, that was the basic takeaway from a roundtable on carbon market reforms FleishmanHillard hosted along with SSE and Oxera last Friday.
For those whose full time job is not in the EU Energy or Climate field, the ETS is the largest multi-country, multi-sector greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in the world and the chief instrument for the EU in meeting its emissions reduction targets. However, a huge surplus in allowances has seen prices fall from €20 a tonne in 2011 to €5 a tonne today, reducing incentives to switch from heavily polluting fuels such as coal to cleaner alternatives such as natural gas or renewables, like wind and solar power.
Given the timely nature of the event (At the time of writing, the famous backloading dossier which through the tempera removal of allowances would prop up the carbon price has just received the backing of MEPs in Plenary) it was little surprise that over 40 participants came to FH’s offices to exchange views with the Commission, industry and NGO’s on how best to get the EU’s principal GHG reduction instrument back on track.
What was perhaps a little more surprising was how aligned participants – EU policymakers, NGOs and industry types alike — seemed to be in their thinking on what should be the next steps to fixing the ETS and getting the EU carbon market back in order.
In November 2012, the European Commission, in its ‘”State of the Carbon Market in 2012″ document, presented 6 potential options to reform the EU ETS. At the roundtable it became apparent that a loose consensus was emerging around the following three-step approach, which includes elements of the Commission’s thinking but also a number of new elements that have been introduced by stakeholders in recent months;
Step 1 – Backloading: The backloading of 900 million EUA would be a necessary but far from sufficient first step. The backloading of allowances should prop up prices temporarily above the current €5 a tonne number but will not increases prices to the €25-30 a tonne figure original envisaged by the Commission to stimulate low carbon investment and new technologies. With MEPs having given their support to backloading in a full European Parliamentary vote Tuesday, Member States should do likewise in coming weeks, by approving backloading. The first allowances to be backloaded in 2014 or 2015 depending on what timetable the Climate Change Committee decides Dec. 16.
Step 2 -Early reduction of annual linear factor: This tool is effectively an annual decrease in the amount of allowances in the system and is in line with one of the six options laid out by the Commission. Reducing the supply would push up the ETS price. Participants at the FH event suggested revising the annual linear reduction factor by -1.74% as soon as possible, most likely in 2016 or 2017. Some participants noted that it was possible to even go beyond 1.74% to a more ambitious 2.5% reduction.
Step 3 – Supply adjustment mechanism (SAM): A supply adjustment mechanism would automatically, based on pre-determined rules, adjust the supply of allowances in case of significant deviations in the economic development. The idea of having a supply adjustment mechanism to act as a ‘shock absorber’, independent of political interventions, was first floated by IETA in reaction to the Commission’s stakeholder consultation. Support for this measure has been growing consistently since with DG CLIMA Commission also seemingly supportive.
The main difficulty with the SAM remains how the adjustment mechanism should kick in. It could be a) Emissions-based – simply identify a lower and upper threshold; b) GDP-based – reliant on economic activity and c) ETS allowance Price-triggered – seen by many participants as the simplest option to implement but more politically challenging.
Looking ahead, the Commission will most likely come forward with a proposal on structural reforms of the ETS in January, most likely as part of the large package of policy proposals to be released on January 22; this package is also expected to include a 2030 Climate and Energy framework, a study on the various factors that drive energy prices and a formal Commission view on shale gas (A Commission policy proposal on shale gas also remains a possibility).
Given the legislative timeline, the proposal introduced in January will not be finalized in this Parliament, but will rather seek the endorsement from Member States at the European Council summit in March.
As one participant noted at the FH roundtable: given the huge oversupply of allowances in the ETS today, without the possibility of reform, the price of ETS allowances would actually be closer to zero rather than the current €5 a tonne level. The €5 a tonne price represents investors’ confidence, however thin, that policymakers can introduce meaningful reform to a collapsing market.
After the Commission shows its hand in January, all eyes will be looking at the Council in March to demonstrate that the political will exists at the highest level to reform the ETS.
December 12, 2013
On Wednesday December 4th we welcomed Kevin Gundersen, vice president at Banner Public Affairs and a former intelligence and cybersecurity advisor for the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security. Teresa Calvano, head of our technology practice in Brussels chaired an engaging and informative round table discussion on privacy and cybersecurity issues on both sides of the Atlantic. There was a wide range of attendees from sectors as diverse as transport and energy, as well as a sizeable contingent from the technology industry.
Kevin’s intervention touched on cybersecurity legislation pending in the United States as well as US perceptions of the Snowden/NSA scandal in the US and the prospects for legislative change in the US, as recently demanded by the European Commission. Kevin suggested that large scale legislative change in the US was unlikely as the actions of the NSA and related bodies already had a firm basis in US law. He pointed out that only 1% of the Snowden files are currently in the public domain, and it is likely further revelations will be released at important moments for the US, such as the next round of TTIP negotiations, when their impact can be most damaging.
Kevin also provided fascinating insights into what is at stake for European and American firms in cybersecurity terms, both in terms of possible regulatory obligations and the cost of intellectual property stolen via hacking, saying “there are two types of companies: ones that have been hacked and ones that know they have been hacked”. He stressed the possibility of large-scale cyber-attacks in the near future, urging companies and countries not to ignore the warning signs. He called on firms to engage with policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic on cyber issues to avoid being damaged by knee-jerk legislation which could arise after a large cyber-attack.
He also spoke of the difficulties of creating a cybersecurity framework as it touches on so many different areas and is an area where private firms and nation states co-operate and conflict with each other. In this regard he mentioned the specific issue of “active defence” from cyber-attacks, asking how far companies could go to defend themselves and their intellectual property from theft, especially if the aggressor was a nation state.
The lively question and answer session saw attendees touch on issues ranging from European cloud networks to the pace and agenda of the TTIP negotiations and the role the private sector should play in devising a voluntary or mandatory cybersecurity agenda.
December 6, 2013
Industry fights on fact, loses on emotions in Brussels. Just contrast the latest NGO campaign you’ve come across to that bland position paper (see here) you just wrote that ‘welcomes the Commission’s proposal’ and then lists all the facts that make it a complete disaster for your industry. Yet while many public affairs professionals understand that to win a debate emotion is as important as logic, as soon as it is suggested that emotion may be deployed in their advocacy panic sets in. So what’s to be frightened of in arguments that seek to illicit an emotional as well as logical response?
First of all, fear itself. When consultants, including this one, show examples of emotion being used it is generally campaigns that stoke fear of some kind. For a bunch of people trying to save the planet/children/future, NGOs tend to use fear a lot; fear of the unknown, fear of chemicals killing your children or fear the world’s going to end sooner rather than later. Many industries’ only emotional angle is to talk of industries closing and jobs leaving. Yet even in this they are timid. When I see an industry do something like create a line of jobless Europeans from the Berlaymont to the Spinelli building I’ll know they’ve got it. The problem is industry never will. Fear does not resonate with the corporate brand the CEO is trying to engender. Too much fear risks spooking shareholders and unnerving customers. We are about to be put out of business is not great for the share price.
Unhappily, as fear is the emotion banded about most, this causes many public affairs professionals to shun any kind of emotional line of argumentation.
Secondly, facts get in the way. Many of the public affairs professionals in Brussels come from organisations where the predominant culture is people who like either numbers or science. These folks natural tendency is to look at the data and build up to a message. Naturally, this makes the arguments developed factual ones. Dry. Unemotional. Facts. Facts are important, and should remain so. I don’t see an argument not supported by them ever winning. But they are necessary, not sufficient to win. The flipside of the coin would be to find an argument that convinces people and then find the facts to support it. It’s no less factual, just more likely to convince.
So what can you do? Next time you are devising your next position paper, letter, or preparing a meeting ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want your audience to know?
- What do you want your audience to think?
- What do you want your audience to feel?
- What do you want your audience to do?
They may help you structure your argument in a way that takes the audience through awareness to understanding and then belief and action. To help with the feel question, here’s a list of emotions that may provide inspiration. As while fear may be used, things like hope may be better placed to meet your organization’s goals. And remember, hope has been known to win things like elections. Emotion. Yes, we can.
December 3, 2013