Britain’s decision to leave the EU provides opportunities and challenges for U.S. business. What will determine success or failure depends on how American companies react to Brexit. Change is needed immediately on two fronts. First, the extent that they rely on lobbying. Second, the manner how they conduct lobbying in Europe to shape EU policies.
More reliance on lobbying and government affairs will be needed in the immediate future. Brexit has brought political and economic uncertainty. Most U.S. firms will need constant intelligence and advice in order to anticipate and adapt to the thinking in Brussels. They need to stay on top of existing policy initiatives to ensure that Britain’s departure will not affect the spirit and outcome of an ongoing proposal or existing legislation.
The Brexit vote will most likely be followed by an increase in proposals emanating from Brussels. Brexit dominated much of the debate in the EU over the last year. Britain’s referendum took attention away from policy. With the referendum out of the way, U.S. firms need to be prepared to deal with an increase in activity. They will need to think in advance and have their panels ready to cope with new proposals.
Yet change is not only needed in the way U.S. companies rely on lobbying in Europe. More important even is the manner they will go about it. For years now, many U.S. firms have considered London as their natural hub in Europe. As a result, most of them limited themselves to lobby Brussels from London. This needs to change if U.S. business wishes to stay relevant. As many companies are considering moving their headquarters out of London to other European cities to stay in the EU single market, so should their lobbying teams. Only by looking at Brussels in the same way they look at Washington D.C. would U.S. business be able to influence EU policy-making. Failure to do so will seriously affect their ability to shape process and policy.