EU-focused associations are big business. There are currently 2,265 associations based in and around Brussels, which have a total estimated annual income of €2.9 billion, and employ 13,400 people, according to research by FAIB. These include professional associations representing specific professions; important Non-Governmental Organisations; and some 1,600 European trade associations representing business sectors.

Business associations constitute the largest individual group of entries in the EU Transparency Register and tend to consider Brussels as their natural headquarters – the necessary platform from which to seek to influence EU decisions and policymaking. Their composition, vocation and outreach vary considerably due to their particular histories and the growing breadth and depth of EU competencies. Most European associations are registered as international not-for-profit associations under Belgian law. Approximately 60% are traditionally pure federations, composed of national associations; 25% are composed of national associations and companies; and around 15% have exclusive direct company membership. Their budgets and staff size often depend on the nature of the business sector that they represent, the degree to which their industries are regulated, and who is in charge.

Ellwood Atfield has decided to focus on association leadership recruitment as it is such a large vibrant market in its own right, and is also a fantastic gateway to corporate business. For instance, we have recruited Directors General for associations like Medicines for Europe, Cosmetics Europe, European Centre for Toxicology and many others, and on each occasion we have created new relationships with multiple companies up to CEO level who often sit on association boards.

Would you like to advance your career or appoint someone?