2020 and beyond: the changing dynamics of public affairs in EMEA
Prior to the pandemic, political environments were already becoming increasingly charged. The crisis has pushed public affairs further into the boardroom and to the heart of businesses. The dynamics of the profession are changing too as it strives to reach broadening stakeholder networks. The following are some insights from our public affairs leadership across EMEA on what defines policy and regulatory landscapes in their markets, our profession within these distinct contexts, and why we are well placed to provide critical support to companies facing complex multi-jurisdictional issues.
COVID-19 has significantly altered the dynamics of public and private sector relations. Prior to the pandemic, FTI’s 2020 Resilience Barometer™ had already concluded that global executives classified governments and regulators among stakeholders with the most impact on their business performance and strategic direction, second only to customers. This trend has accelerated and will continue to do so with increasing government involvement against the backdrop of the current highly politicised environment.
Any form of state investment in the private sector – from relief funding to strategic equity holdings, as well as other forms of support, such as the temporary relaxation of competition and anti-trust rules – all come with considerable expectations, strict conditions, and risks. Companies will be subject to greater scrutiny from all stakeholders in all areas of business, with conditionality attached to government support and steep expectations about demonstrating strong governance and contributing meaningfully to environmental, societal, and national economic goals in the aftermath.
Companies able to combine evidence and political insight with their own genuine contribution will do best. It will be critical to reinforce business and advocacy strategies with better use of data, intelligence and evidence to gauge positioning, assess stakeholder sentiment and measure the impact of engagement; and to understand the changing political dynamic with insight born from a properly integrated cross-geographical perspective. Public affairs and government relations works best when integrated to provide that joined-up perspective and when integral in partnership with the wider business and stakeholders alike.