ITL #424 Engage with the European Union? A potential route to untapped benefits1 month, 4 weeks ago
Many business people think reaching out to the EU is a waste of time. Yet those working in its institutions are often approachable, knowledgeable and, most importantly, open to engagement. By Angele Giuliano.
The EU will not come to you. It is up to you to reach out to them! Most organisations, companies, SMEs, entrepreneurs and countries only hear about what the EU does through the filters of national media or local politicians and this invariably paints an often bleak and bureaucratic vision which is far from reality.
EU is the best kept secret
So why do beneficiaries of EU funding not tell others? Is it because they want to keep it as a secret from their competitors? Or perhaps to make everyone think they grew suddenly from their own efforts?
Maybe it is because they do not feel that they should advertise or promote their relationship with the EU and therefore keep it confidential. Working successfully with the EU may be a well kept secret for these and other reasons.
EU is open to engagement
Unfortunately, the majority of organisations, public and private, fail to even try to engage with the European Union, believing that this will be an impossible feat. However in over 20 years of working alongside the EU, I can personally and professionally vouch that the people working in these institutions are approachable, knowledgeable and most importantly open to engagement.
EU can be easy and beneficial
Part of my work, as a European 'evangelist' (as I have been called that recently!) is to help towns and villages on the edges of Europe really start engaging with Brussels, and to get all the opportunities they can to help them grow economically and socially. There are a lot of really great things happening but many of these are 'opt in' or ‘get in touch’ and therefore require some effort on one's part.
However, it is not difficult to learn, and in my personal experience, once you start on this journey, then you realise how easy and beneficial it is to engage with the EU and you ask yourself, ‘Why didn’t we do it before?’
EU can promote company growth
When I give talks about the European Union, I normally see a variety of expressions on people’s faces. Many are reflective of an unconscious bias: bored, angry, lost, blank.
The ‘happy and interested’ expression is not really the norm even though those who do engage can be positively transformed by the interaction. Moreover, there are many opportunities that help companies and organisations grow within the EU.
Here is a short list of what the EU offers:
- Sales through Procurement Opportunities - every day the EU Official Journal publishes almost a thousand tenders for anything ranging from hospital equipment to foodstuffs. Only EU registered companies can apply to these opportunities - and yes, those are direct sales!
- Business Partnerships and Networking - there are 26 other great EU countries where you can find other businesses that want to partner and work together with you. There are also EU entities that help companies find each other and work together (like the European Enterprise Network)
- Open Markets - the ability to promote your company and products to all different EU markets by engaging with the different European entities that work both from the bottom up (like the Council of Regions) and top down (like different portals created by the European Commission) where it is possible to list your company.
- First Mover Advantage - Take advantage of new upcoming directives and initiatives being created by the European Union and realigning your company's business model to take advantage of that (like GDPR, Digital Single Market, Green New Deal, European Innovation Council etc)
- Financial Support to business and product development - there are different grants (yes, funding finally!) that help you build and improve your product and service offerings, especially if research is still needed before a product or service is ready for market.
Connect with the EU
Sadly, most of the above opportunities are not taken up by either local entities or by entrepreneurs. Possibly their vision of Europe is darkened by years of biased news. Connecting with the EU can bring potential growth and it must start with you reaching out to the EU rather than waiting for information to trickle down.
How to engage with the EU?
If you are motivated to learn what is happening, then there are a million open online sources to consult, direct from the horse's mouth. All the EU bodies must publish what they are doing openly, so there will be information on a variety of websites, on YouTube channels, on Twitter etc. And what's great is that they communicate in a multitude of languages - and many are in ALL official EU languages. (Start from www.europa.eu if you do not know where to go, or contact me for help).
Expand your potential and increase your opportunities; start engaging with the EU and with Europe today!
Angele Giuliano is the CEO and Managing Director of AcrossLimits, which helps organisations engage with the EU and acquire the right networks and funding. She has participated in over 60 transnational EU funded projects and has performed evaluations and reviews for the European Commission in their Research and Innovation programmes since 2001.mail the author
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