Top EU lobbyists slam Brexit
Listen: Industry heavyweights speak their minds in podcast recorded at Global ICCO PR Summit.
Senior European public affairs professionals have delivered withering verdicts on Brexit, as lobbyists across Europe try to get to grips with the referendum result.
Interel chief executive Fredrik Lofthagen and FleishmanHillard’s Brussels managing director Caroline Wunnerlich spoke out in a podcast on the future of public affairs recorded at the at the recent Global ICCO PR Summit. They were joined by Tangui van der Elst, European government affairs director at the global packaging firm WestRock
Asked what impact the Brexit vote might have on the future of public affairs, van der Elst was unremittingly gloomy.
He stated: “I’m an optimist by nature but on the Brexit issue I really struggle to find any reasons to be optimistic. We’ll have a bad solution or even worse, that’s my view.”
He added: “I’m afraid there’s too much emotional equity to go back and that’s why I really don’t see how we can come to a satisfactory solution. I think we’ll all be losers whether it’s the UK or Europe.”
Wunnerlich was equally down on Brexit, stating: “All I can say is I’m quite glad I’ve got a German name these days because it’s amazing how quickly the waters start closing that side of the channel when it comes to listening to or involving British voice and interests. And that’s before we’ve begun negotiations. So like Tonge I’m not optimistic. “
Lofthagen said he shared the views of his colleagues, but he tried to be more optimistic. “The EU has quite an extraordinary ability to muddle through from one crisis to the next and usually there is some kind of outcome that stakeholders would agree with,” he said.
But he also advised: “Don’t spend too much time trying to scenario plan around it because, frankly, it’s speculation.”
The senior European public affairs professionals were in discussion with presenter Russell Goldsmith for the csuite podcast. The show, recorded before the outcome of the U.S. election also covered public affairs spend and Donald Trump.