The European Chamber was established in 2000, with the vision to be the unified, independent and influential voice of European business in China. Now, as much as then, lobbying is our raison d’etre and the core service we provide to our members. To continue to do so effectively requires direct access to the Chinese and European authorities, and it is the weight our 1,800 member companies that gives us the requisite clout to make this possible.
The European Chamber’s 2014–2017 Strategy Review (Strategy Review) is intended to expand our reach even further. It will also increase our value proposition to our members, adhering to our three pillars – advocacy, business intelligence and community. We will do this by increasing our coverage of Chinese provinces; developing even closer relations with the European Commission; placing even greater emphasis on what we call ‘content-based advocacy’; and by ensuring that our stances continue to lead the discourse in opinion-forming, international news outlets.
Before we release a stance on any given issue we take our time to make sure that it has been given due consideration, so that when we finally speak out our messages are clear and carry a certain weight. This ensures that our words are taken seriously—by both the Chinese Government and the European Commission—and frequently result in us being offered a seat at the table to enter into more detailed dialogue.
In the case of China’s non-transparent Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement last year, the Chamber’s stance was positively responded to by the National Development and Reform Commission, who invited us for consultation on the matter. Similarly, when the Chamber spoke out on China’s recent measures to further restrict domestic Internet access on 12th February this year, we led the discourse in the international media prompting an official response from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Reacting to policy developments through statements and press releases is just one way for the Chamber to deliver a better outcome for our members, though. A large part of our advocacy efforts are in fact proactive, through our initiation of public debates on important issues.
This effort has been, and continues to be, driven primarily through our annually published European Business in China Position Paper and Business Confidence Survey.
Over the course of 2015 we will add to these a series of local position papers. The Shanghai Position Paper 2014/2015 kick-started the series in late January and was extremely well received; other chapters are set to follow suit over the course of the year.
We will also re-start the publication of stand-alone papers on current topics informed by the expertise of the Chamber’s member companies. These will be similar to previous Chamber publications such as our studies on overcapacity, public procurement and innovation.
To ensure the Chamber’s voice is representative of all European business invested in China we are exploring the possibility of opening additional offices over the next few years in areas that we don’t yet covered. While advocacy efforts will be driven out of Beijing, we recognise the need to increase our focus on individual locales in this continent-sized country.
We have already expanded our reach in Europe by opening an office in Brussels, and it gives me great pleasure to announce that former Chamber President Serge Janssens will be our permanent liaison there. This presence in Europe gives the Chamber a further edge in ensuring that our messages are disseminated swiftly and effectively to the European Commission, the European Parliament and Brussels-based think tanks.
By taking these additional steps we hope to bring further benefits to our membership and increase our relevance to both Chinese and European authorities. As a member, you can be assured that we will continue to strive to provide you with the highest quality services in advocacy, business intelligence and community – the Chamber’s ‘ABC’.