13 Dec 2013


Global Europe
Public Affairs

Press release

WASHINGTON D.C., (December 13, 2013) - Over 60 representatives of U.S.-based trade associations gathered yesterday at the ASAE Conference Center in Washington D.C. to attend “Europe Today” and receive insights on the emerging Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The annual European Union (EU) economic briefing was hosted by Kellen Europe, the Brussels-based office of Kellen Company, the premier, international association management and professional services company. The featured panel speakers were Geoffrey Harris, deputy head of the European Parliament Delegation to the U.S. Congress, Warren Maruyama, partner at Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington D.C., and Alfons Westgeest, managing partner of Kellen Europe in Brussels.


Geoffrey Harris stated, “It is important to understand that the European Parliament is more pluralistic than the U.S. Congress, covering a much wider spectrum of political views amongst its elected Parliamentarians from 28 States, speaking over 20 languages in total. The European Parliament actively maintains a global network of bilateral and multilateral inter-parliamentary dialogues. This network includes almost the whole world and ranges from the U.S. Congress to the Chinese National People’s Congress.”


He commented on the specific interest for associations and citizens to connect with the Parliament, “They can have excellent access to the Parliament’s various committees to advance their ideas on sectoral or legislative issues. The TTIP will certainly have the keen attention of the Parliament now and after the next elections in May 2014.”


Warren Maruyama introduced the economic and trade relationship between the EU and the U.S. which remains the largest in the world by any measure. It is also unique in its balance, with €2.4 trillion mutual investment and 15 million jobs.


The audience was particularly interested in his comments about whether and how associations should engage with the TTIP process. According to Mr. Murayama,“Regulatory convergence, particularly sectoral convergence, is an opportunity for industries and associations on both sides of the Atlantic to eliminate regulatory barriers and reduce costs. This is something new, which neither the U.S. nor the EU has tried in a serious way in any previous Free Trade Agreement (FTA). It also raises substantive and political challenges, including likely resistance from some regulatory agencies, who may see their power potentially being constrained by ‘interoperability.’”  


He specifically highlighted the proposal by the EU Commissioner for Trade, Karel de Gucht,on “sectoral deliverables,” noting, “This has triggered interest from U.S. stakeholders, such as the automobile industry, since it could lead to major cost-savings that could dwarf those from a conventional FTA. While the concept still has to be worked out, it is a chance for companies, industries, trade associations, or professional societies to push for inclusion of their sectors in TTIP in a way that reduces costs and promotes expanded two-way trade in U.S. and EU goods and services.”


Alfons Westgeest of Kellen Europe introduced the latest EU economic and policy developments impacting associations, including: the “2030 climate package,” the proposed Standard VAT Return Format, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), far-reaching telecoms market reforms, and the modernization of the Professional Qualifications Directive. He also presented on the trends in the structure of European associations, the formation of coalitions and alliances, and the restructuring of the association landscape.


The briefing was concluded with a lively debate between speakers and the participants. This event was the seventh event in the annual Europe Update briefing series and was sponsored by Visit Brussels and supported by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).


For more information visit or contact Ms. Nele Devolder




About Kellen Europe and Kellen Company

Kellen Europe, a division of Kellen Company, provides association management, strategic advice, communications, government affairs, benchmarking studies, Internet services and other professional advice to associations and corporations worldwide. Over the last 25 years, Kellen Europe has gathered considerable expertise that enables the company to rapidly anticipate the needs of emerging or existing associations and to provide tailored organizational solutions. Kellen’s office in Brussels also hosts and manages the representation of U.S.-based associations in Europe. For more information, please visit

In North America, Kellen Company provides association management, strategic consulting, government relations, communications, meeting management  and other professional services to associations, not-for-profit organizations and corporate entities. Kellen Company works with more than 10,000 companies and 100,000 professionals worldwide, through the more than 100 client associations it serves. In addition to Kellen Europe, based in Brussels, Kellen has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and Beijing. For more information, visit