In a dynamic and informative event, the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE) recently wrapped up its high-profile gathering, ‘Policy Manifestos and Associations’ Impact,’ hosted at the prestigious European Parliament in Brussels on 26 September 2023. This thought-provoking event, crafted by ESAE’s advocacy community and moderated by co-chairs Rosa Armesto and Guido Lobrano, served as a pivotal forum for delving into the art of crafting association policy manifestos that wield significant influence within the legislative process. The event’s timing couldn’t have been more relevant, with the European elections looming large in June 2024.
The day commenced with a captivating address by Gabriel Mato MEP, who championed the important role of transparency in policymaking. He underscored the critical need for policies to be anchored in real-world facts, emphasizing that effective policymaking hinges on lawmakers’ deep understanding of the realities of civil society.
Mike Morrissey, ESAE’s esteemed President, led a panel discussion, articulating the profound role association professionals play in adopting a fact-based approach to the intricate political process. He emphasized the gravity of effectively conveying the messages of association members as integral elements of European civil society.
The diverse cadre of association executives representing a wide spectrum of industries fed the audience with practical examples and engaged in illuminating discussions about the myriad challenges and innovative strategies to make policy manifestos more impactful. André Sobczak, the Secretary-General of Eurocities, brought to the fore the imperative of associations forging strategic alliances and harmonizing their efforts to ensure the effective implementation of manifesto elements by diverse stakeholders. In his words, “It is crucial for associations to build strategic alliances and coordinate our efforts to ensure the elements of our manifestos are effectively implemented by various stakeholders.”
This multi-stakeholder symposium epitomized ESAE’s unwavering mission to foster dialogue and collaboration among European associations. It seeks to cultivate excellence in association management by promoting the sharing of best practices, a sentiment echoed by Rosa Armesto: “Advocacy is at the core of public policy. Our aim is to come together, engage with peers, share knowledge, and, as a community, gain a better perspective on our daily work.”
The Vision Behind the Event
In an exclusive interview, ESAE leadership unveiled the motivation behind orchestrating this high-level event. A significant portion of ESAE’s membership is deeply entrenched in the realms of advocacy and communications on a daily basis. The need to promptly and effectively articulate the positions of various industries is always paramount for association executives.
However, the added importance of this exercise less than a year before the impending European elections cannot be overstated. During this period, the focus shifts from routine business to the art of presenting a compelling vision for the future. Guido Lobrano, one of the event’s co-chairs, astutely noted: “Policy Manifestos offer Associations the opportunity to take stock of where the organization and its respective industry stand on important issues and present it to the wider ecosystem. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate how our actions foster wider societal benefits, that go beyond our immediate focus.”
ESAE’s Vision for the Future
The overwhelming success and active participation in the September session underscore the paramount relevance of the event’s theme within ESAE’s community. With the European elections rapidly approaching in June 2024, ESAE and its Advocacy Community are steadfast in their commitment to equipping members with the knowledge and tools required for efficient and impactful representation of their respective industries. ESAE promises an exciting and informative 2024 Programme of Activities for its members, ensuring their continued growth and influence in shaping policy and society.