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Positioning for success in a year of European elections


In a year of European elections that will have far-reaching impacts on the EU's policy and funding priorities, Ruth Estrada Dorronsoro, Partner at Schuman Associates, discusses some of the major changes we have guided our clients through to-date, and looks ahead to how businesses will need to be pro-active and agile in order to position for ongoing success.

This interview was given on the occasion of Schuman Associates becoming an official Sponsor of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, with whom we have proudly worked for the past twelve years. 


For members who do not know you yet, what is the mission of Schuman Associates and in which areas of specialisation do you focus your activity?

Schuman Associates is the leading EU public affairs and funding consultancy based in Brussels, with an outstanding track record in securing EU and public sector funding for our clients since our founding in 1989.

Our team of multilingual consultants and partners across Europe has extensive experience in advising at CEO/CFO level in all key sectors, including ICT and security, energy and environment, education and health, trade and development, financial services and telecommunications.

You were last interviewed by the Chamber in 2018. The world has changed enormously in these six years, with increasingly global challenges exacerbating the importance of major geopolitical players such as the European Union. How have these changes affected your business and what challenges does the consultancy face in 2024?

We can say that, especially in the wake of the pandemic in 2020, our activities have accelerated exponentially. The EU agreed on a €750 billion recovery package called "NextGenerationEU" – our challenge was how to address this and position our clients for success. We built our presence across the EU, recruiting a top class team while all working remotely. Other challenges included the green and digital transformations that are underway; this also required different skillsets and adaptation of our model. All this has meant a significant growth of our team – we are now almost 40 people – and a greater specialisation in issues of digital transformation, green transition, healtheducation and skills, among others. From Brussels, we have also had great success with our bid management practice enabling clients to win across programmes such as Horizon Europe, CEF, Erasmus, IPCEI or Digital Europe.

Future challenges include the acceleration of the implementation of AI in our area of work, working with hybrid or fully virtual teams across the EU and beyond, while fostering a culture of transparency, quality and work ethics. We are a young and multicultural team that reflects very well the EU we live in.

Externally, the outcome of the European elections will condition the approach to the challenges facing our continent in the coming years. This milestone, together with the current geopolitical situation, brings to the table a new area of financing, and a new focus on areas such as defence are to be expected. 

With regards to Spain, the key will be to absorb all the funds that are available. Positioning in the new economy areas such as space, renewables, energy storage, CleanTech will be vital. The country will need to focus on streamlining management and making progress in the absorption of EU funds, supporting the Autonomous Regions in establishing their own priorities for the allocation of funds through the new text of the Addendum, and generating the necessary consensus to allow for budgetary stability that facilitates the implementation of the Recovery Plan, while respecting the execution deadlines.

2024 is also an election year and on 9 June there will be elections to the European Parliament. How does the change of mandate affect Schuman Associates' activity and how are you preparing to adapt to the priorities of the future Parliament?

To adapt to the priorities of the future European Parliament, companies are often attentive to the campaign proposals of candidates and parties, as well as to emerging political trends. This may involve adjustments in business strategies, investments in areas that reflect political priorities, and participation in public consultations and legislative processes.

In general, companies rely on Schuman Associates to help them align their priorities with those of the next European Parliament and the future Commission, by taking a proactive approach to understanding proposed policies, identifying opportunities and challenges, and making decisions to align their operations and strategies within this changing policy environment.

Schuman Associates has recently decided to upgrade its membership in the Chamber from ordinary member to sponsor. What is the reason for this upgrade and what results do you expect from it?

Schuman Associates has been a regular member of the Chamber for 12 years. We have seen the influence and outreach of the Chamber grow over these years. I believe that now is the time to have a greater say in its activities, as the interest of our client base in the activities of the Chamber is growing. At the same time, I am interested in standing for election to the Board of Directors in June, in order to make visible the importance of SMEs within the Chamber.

With Spanish clients looking to connect with Brussels and global firms looking to grow their presence in Spain, our work with the Chamber grows more and more relevant. For Schuman Associates, it offers a gateway in both directions.

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