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New EURACTIV Survey confirms the challenges and trends faced by EU trade associations in influencing policy making


06 Oct 2021


Trade & Society

EURACTIV released its survey results on the challenges and drivers for European trade associations in the new post-pandemic reality on Tuesday 5 October. The survey shows, even though associations have adapted to digital advocacy and communication tools, the difficulties in engaging with policy makers and ensuring business continuity. 

The health crisis has heavily impacted the way trade associations operate, advocate and communicate. Their position at the core of the policy making ecosystem means such changes will reverberate throughout the EU Affairs community. As life snaps back to pre-pandemic normalcy, we are now faced with a crucial question: what way forward?

In order to better understand changes and new trends, EURACTIV successfully engaged European trade associations through a survey, gathering over 150 responses that revealed the sector’s main challenges and drivers. The findings offer a glimpse into the future of management, advocacy, communication and human resources - the importance of digital and hybrid interaction is growing, new tools are being willingly adopted.

For example, the survey found that 75% of respondents said they plan to give their staff members the option to work from home 1-2 days a week for the foreseeable future, even in the absence of any restrictions. 

EURACTIV’s analysis also found that Associations are especially concerned about the inability to engage with &/or influence policymakers. Difficulties in business continuity and sustained budgetary uncertainty, namely “lack of financial resources”, also remain a top concern.

Additional highlights from the survey include:

  • Social media platforms like Twitter and Linkedin are considered the main tools for digital communication and engagement in the EU policy sphere. However, new platforms such as Tiktok and social audio platforms such as Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse have the potential to create impact in the near future.
  • Media engagement strategies primarily focus on EU-specialised media, followed by trade/sectoral media. 
  • They still plan their communication activities significantly ahead. However, with the  unprecedented volatility of the past 18 months, a third of Associations say they now only plan up to three months in advance.
  • Webinars and internal newsletters are the main methods of communication with members.
  • The majority of Associations believe they will organise both hybrid and virtual events in the coming year. 60% are optimistic about having full in-person events in the near future, importantas over half of respondents found good networking opportunities an important factor.
  • Half those surveyed consider 2-5 annual events for their organisation to be ideal.. Over 25%  believe that figure should be above 5. 

“EURACTIV recognises Trade Associations as fundamental actors in the EU policy making ecosystem and has built a reputation of being a reliable source of information for their day-to-day work. Our survey aims to serve as a tool for them, by providing a snapshot of the state of the sector at a pivotal moment, sharing best practices and looking at challenges and opportunities ahead. As with our editorial coverage, our goal is to move the discussion forward in a transparent, unbiased, constructive, and inclusive manner, to the benefit of the entire EU policy making ecosystem we are proud to be an integral part of” says Goksen Caliskan, EU Advocacy Director at EURACTIV.

The full report on the EU Associations Survey’s results can be downloaded here

About EURACTIV Media Network

EURACTIV Media Network was established in 1999 as Europe’s first pan-European media network, covering news and policy analysis from the European Union and across Europe in the form of The Capitals, in over a dozen languages. EURACTIV serves as an independent and transparent voice in a still under-served European public sphere.


Contact details:

For more information on the survey results, please reach out to