A successful end of year event for The European Vending Association

The EVA held its 2010 Annual General Assembly and Conference “The ins and outs of European lobbying”, in Brussels. More than 60 companies and National Associations attended this 2-day event which commenced with a short but compact Annual General Assembly on the afternoon of 8 December. The Annual Report and the Business Plan for 2011-2012 were presented by Catherine Piana, and approved by the voters of the Association.

During the AGM, a change in the statutes, proposed by the Executive Committee, was approved by all present. Henceforth, companies will no longer be obliged to be members of the National Association of their main country of activity in order to be eligible to join the EVA, but rather have the option of being a member of any National Association where they conduct business activities.

There was also a very interesting presentation from Fredrik Larstorp, one of the founding members of the future Norwegian National Association. During the AGM, he presented the steps they are following to set-up the Association, and he also unveiled some key facts about the vending industry in Norway, such as the great importance of cashless payment.

At the end of the AGM, Arnaud van Amerongen invited the National Associations present at the event to expose the highlights of the year for the industry from their respective countries. The National Associations were: France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Poland, Austria, Bulgaria and Sweden.

On the evening of 8 December, the EVA organised a cocktail at the European Parliament, hosted by the well known MEP, Malcolm Harbour. The exchange with Mr. Harbour, and other fellow colleagues who were invited to the cocktail, proved most positive for the vending industry. In his speech, Mr.Harbour extolled the industry and encouraged representatives of the vending industry to communicate their issues and concerns to the European Parliament.

The day after, on 9 December, the Conference on “The ins and outs of the European lobbying” opened with Joanna Dober, who presented “Lobbying in Brussels: how does it all work?”. The main conclusion of her presentation was the significant changes in the ‘Brussels’ lobbying scene. It is now a transparent and accessible system, with many stakeholders who are also public. There has been an increase of national power through the Parliament, but also through the Permanent Representations of countries and regions. She underlined the importance of being ahead of time, and advised the vending industry to be proactive in their issues, especially those concerning sustainability as this topic was now on the agenda in all areas.

Lorenzo Consoli, correspondent for the APCOM news agency and outgoing president of the International Press Association, presented some tips on how to communicate in Brussels. He explained the functioning of the media and journalists in Brussels, and he then gave some useful advice on how to get your press release read by the journalists. He also talked about the importance of writing about National issues, which at the end of day are more interesting for the readers. Mr. Consoli advised the audience to not be afraid of communicating with the Brussels media and certainly if they had any stories or issues that could be relevant at a National level.

A round table, moderated by Joanna Dober showed the way other European Associations worked. Representatives from Freshfel, Europe2Go and Plastics Europe gave the participants their views about their experiences in Brussels. It was striking how they all reached the same conclusions: support from the National members was crucial to access some information; in terms of lobbying in Brussels, alliances with other stakeholders were extremely useful to achieve certain goals; and finally, the importance of being proactive and transparent.

The afternoon was dedicated, more specifically, to the vending industry. Catherine Piana, the EVA’s General Director, moderated a round table with the participation of some National Associations. The representatives present were Myriam Decoeur-Michel from NAVSA, Aris Kaschefi from BDV, Jonathan Hilder from the AVA, and finally Lucio Pinetti from CONFIDA. It was concluded that there should be more communication between the European National Associations. In order to improve bi-lateral communication, the National Association representatives would soon be foreseeing a system of conference calling. Oftentimes, there exists common issues in different countries and it could be helpful to learn from one another’s best practice or to simply find a common strategy.

To end the afternoon session, Catherine Piana presented, in detail, what the EVA does for the vending industry in Brussels. The EVA was satisfied with the outcome of the conference as it was a very appealing forum both for the European Vending Association and the participants. It is now clear that an exchange of information between the European and National levels will be a key factor in the successful representation of the vending industry.