A successful 10th edition
Initiated in 2009, the annual spring seminar Europe Today update has reached its 10th edition this year. A joint initiative of Kellen, ASAE and visit.brussels that brings together US based association executives to receive an overview of the latest trends across both sides of the Atlantic.
Held on March 22, 2019 at the National Press Center in Washington DC, the event attracted over 55 participants who showed a strong interest to hear directly from the European Commission and the CEOs of two associations on the key issues relevant for international activities.
The welcome to the attendees was given by Alfons Westgeest from Kellen and Greta Kotler, Chief Global Development Officer at ASAE (American Society of Association Executives), who expressed their satisfaction with a long continuity of the event over the years.
The event continued with a presentation by Olivier Nussbaum from visit.brussels Convention and Association Bureau of Brussels as the destination for association headquarters and meetings and the information and support that exists. Brussels is host of over 2300 international associations and approximately 1000 annual meetings. It has also a dynamic ecosystem of associations and various local events tailored made for association representatives similarly to Washington DC.
The dynamics of association life have been highlighted in the next speech by Alfons Westgeest who said that “The transatlantic relation is the biggest joint global market. Associations based in US and Europe recognize that by their continued mutual investment. The cities of Brussels and D.C. are strong association hubs in the heart of the continents and offer new initiatives for trade groups as well as professional societies.” In his presentation he also introduced the situation in Europe in relation to the Brexit situation and how associations should be organised to deal with a complex European Governance for their activities. Other items such as positioning, project orientation, strategic communication and sustainability were also highlighted.
The European Union institutional perspective was provided by Esther Nieto Hernandez from the European Commission who gave more insights on Brexit and in particular the timeline of key events of Brexit, preparedness for any scenario, transition periods and future relationship. The calendar and main issues related to the aftermath of European elections of 23-26 May were also presented, together with the EU Budget main aspects and the actions implemented or upcoming in the period 2019-2020. Notwithstanding with the importance and good level of EU-US trade relationship observations were also shared on uncertainties on some ongoing issues and the important discussions held in areas such as on tariff negotiations, cybersecurity, pharmaceuticals or standards.
A practical perspective on the operations in Europe and US was shared by Joy Ditto, Utilities Technology Council (UTC) / European Utilities Telecom Council (EUTC) and Matthew R. D’Uva, International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), who explained in their case stories clearly why and how their associations expanded their business and joined forces coming to Brussels. An interesting discussion and exchange of views followed all the presentations.