BEUC strategy 2014-2016 – Impact on working methods within secretariat and with members – Call for members to volunteer as “Reference persons”

Background

In May 2013, the GA adopted the new BEUC strategy 2014-2016, where it was decided that the organisation would focus on a more limited number of priorities, shifting the majority of resources to these priorities, and monitoring more lightly the other headlines.

The top priorities identified were in alphabetic order:

  • Consumer rights and enforcement;
  • Digital markets;
  • Financial services;
  • Food.

Sustainable consumption and production is considered to be another top priority, to be implemented across the different other priorities and headlines.

The headlines, on which we will continue to work, although with a lighter touch, are, in alphabetic order:

  • Energy;
  • Health;
  • Safety.

Impact on BEUC secretariat

The structure of the BEUC secretariat will consequently be reshuffled. There will be

  • 4 teams (instead of 8) devoted to each of the 4 vertical top priorities
  • a task force on sustainable consumption and production
  • a task force on enforcement
  • for each headline that is not a top priority, there will be one policy officer in charge;
  • Cross-cutting policy and strategy issues, such as CESEE, are handled/supervised by the Directors’ Office.

Task forces are inter-team groups to increase the horizontal character of these priorities.

Communication activities will be focused on the top priorities and will only occasionally be linked to the headlines.

There will be no training department any more at BEUC, as the training activities are integrated into projects that are supervised by the Directors’ office.

These changes have naturally led to changes within the teams, colleagues have moved between teams. You will soon receive a new organigramme of the secretariat.

Work with members

From TEMS to reference persons

According to the decision of the executive, BEUC will no longer work with “TEMs” but with so-called “reference persons”. The difference is that reference persons are dedicated only to one workstream of a top priority (for example in the “consumer rights and enforcement” priority, we will have a work stream on “travel and transport rights”, one on “insurance contract law” and one on the traditional “consumer law acquis”. For each of these workstreams, a separate group of reference persons will be established.

Background:

In previous years, BEUC’s policy positions and strategy were prepared by the secretariat in liaison with TEMs and members’ experts. The TEMs system was established in 2008 in order to have a better and earlier interaction between the secretariat and members with expertise on a given. This system has worked well and has given rise to a lot of interest within our membership. However, as TEMs were appointed per team, their input was sometimes limited to only one part of the work programme of that team (most linked to their personal expertise), leaving other workstreams of a team sometimes orphan of sufficient TEM input.

It has therefore been decided to propose a more focused system for the cooperation with members. For the different priorities and headlines, workstreams are defined and for each of these workstreams, members are invited to suggest reference persons:

  • Each workstream or headline will integrate in principle 4 – 5 experts from member organizations – the reference persons. These experts will actively participate in the preparation and follow up of the strategic planning. This approach is intended to benefit as soon as possible in the preparatory process of BEUC positions from the expertise available within the BEUC member organisations, but also to incorporate different national traditions into our analysis and strategy. In order for this to be effective, it is important that the leadership of the member organizations concerned accepts that the experts – who will be selected by the BEUC secretariat from a list of proposals, on basis of their knowledge on the sub-issues linked to the headlines – devote part of their time to the BEUC work. To achieve this, member organizations concerned will be contacted in due time to check their acceptance of participation by their experts in a BEUC headline/ team.

What is the exact role of reference persons?

Member reference persons will support BEUC’s team in defining and implementing the content and the strategies for the top priorities and headlines:

Definition and adaptation of strategy:

  • contribute with ideas, creativity and   expertise;
  • comment on strategy working papers and draft parts of it;
  • evaluate the strategy by helping to assess success;
  • re-direct if necessary;
  • be involved in reporting about progress, mid-term evaluation etc

Implementation of strategy:

  • developing content further;
  • providing support for and participation in lobbying and public campaigning on the various issues within the workstream. This might imply co-operation, where relevant also with other BEUC members, regarding media activities, organization of joint conferences, joint meetings with decision makers such as MEPs or ministers etc…; and other stakeholders, industry etc…

Participation in BEUC meetings

Being a reference person can imply participation to up to two team meetings per year (abroad, 1 or 1,5 days). However, in order to limit overload and loss of time due to travel, tele-meetings or “conference phone calls” will be encouraged. More frequent, but short, tele-meetings allow for smooth cooperation.

In limited cases, and especially for experts from CESEE countries, costs for travel and accommodation could be covered by BEUC.

Participation in campaigning activities

According to the results of the strategic planning, it could be decided that the reference persons participate in conferences, contacts with decision makers, etc. on behalf of the team, where relevant also in cooperation with other BEUC members.

For how long will reference persons stay committed?

The proposed system is flexible in order to adapt to results of the strategic planning process as well as changing priorities of BEUC member organizations. We therefore would propose that commitment would be given for a one to two year period, to be informally renewed where:

  • the evolution of the strategic plan as well as the composition of the team still justifies the contribution of the reference person;
  • the priorities of the BEUC member organization still allow for participation of the reference person in the works.

What about members’ experts?

The interaction between the BEUC secretariat and experts of all member organisations will not undergo any changes with regard to the previous procedures:

  • experts will continue to be consulted in the preparation of our position papers;
  • experts’ meetings will regularly be organised. However, for headlines that are not listed among our top priorities, these meetings will be less frequent than in the past or could be replaced by tele-meetings where possible.

Next steps: call for reference persons

You will find in annex a list of the workstreams that have been identified by the secretariat. Please consider the workstreams to which your organisation might be interested to appoint a member of your own staff as reference persons and return the list completed with the names and function of the proposed reference person, by 11 November 2013.

Please note that we will be keen to provide for a balanced participation of reference persons in terms of member representation. Also, to be operational, the system should not count for a given workstream more than 4 or maximum 5 reference persons. Therefore, it may not be guaranteed that all proposals made by members will be accepted. As in the previous system, the secretariat will analyse all applications and will make a proposal to the Executive at the January meeting.

The current TEMs are invited to “re-apply” if they wish to continue, but they should choose the most relevant work stream for them.

One person can apply to become a reference person for several workstreams, where relevant.

Last but not least

On behalf of BEUC, I would like to warmly thank all those colleagues within our member organisations who have accepted to be TEMs over the last five years: they have contributed considerably to our work and our achievements! Timelines were sometimes hectic, different approaches have given rise to athletic discussions, but at the end of the process, the BEUC positions came out robust!

Best regards,

Monique Goyens

Director General

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