This is a story I heard in Brussels. A globally prominent CEO was having troubles with the EU’s competition commission. He announced he was coming to town. He arrived with a fleet of black cars. He insisted on a reserved elevator to take him to his meeting.
The result: His company’s troubles with the commission continued for years.
Remember two things in dealing with Brussels.
First, the commission staff is made up of genuine experts in their fields. If you talk to them knowledgeably and with clarity, they will listen and they will hear.
Second, treat the staff with respect. Don’t sweep in like the king of the world. Show some humility. The staff knows you have your job to do. Show that you know they have theirs.
International Perspectives Practices
Oracle’s proposed merger with Sun Microsystems offers the latest example of how the European Commission sometimes has a different view of antitrust issues than the Department of Justice. The objection to the deal by Europe’s top antitrust regulator also offers an example of the increasing importance of good communication across the Atlantic. It’s a growing challenge — a double-barreled challenge: Companies have to understand official thinking in Brussels, and be able to get their own message across.
Trade negotiators for the EU and Latin American countries may soon be able to say ‘yes, we have no bananas’ crowding their trade agenda. According to a report from the Financial Times, an end to the world’s longest-running trade dispute — involving preferential EU tariffs on bananas — may soon be in sight. The newspaper suggests that a resolution of the 16-year-old conflict may give a boost to the World Trade Organization’s floundering Doha Round negotiations, especially if it leads the way to a resolution of tariffs on dozen of tropical products. Read