2023 Survey Report: Trends in European Public Affairs
Brussels, 10 November 2023
The “Trends in European Public Affairs” report is a survey conducted every year by the Public Affairs Council, providing the European public affairs community with insights into some of the biggest challenges facing the profession today. This year’s survey looked at the impact of geopolitics, sustainability, technology, and diversity in the public affairs function, and identified some of the major challenges faced by teams as well as strategies to overcome them. Here is what we found:
Sustainability is perceived as a key challenge and public expectations are high. “Climate change, Sustainability and ESG developments and regulations” are perceived by more than half of respondents as the top factor impacting their organization’s operational environment in the 12 months ahead. Furthermore, an overwhelming 97,41% considers that Sustainability and ESG are areas where their organizations face rising public expectations and increased EU regulations.
Cautious optimism about the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for public affairs. Almost half of respondents (46,05%) either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘somewhat agreed’ with the statement that “AI tools will be adopted by a majority of European organizations for their public affairs and communication work within the next 12 months”. Opinions are, however, divided on this point, with almost 1/3 of respondents (28,95%) ‘neither agreeing nor disagreeing’ with that statement, and 22,37% ‘somewhat disagreeing’. As far as individual tools are concerned, a significant 47,37% admits to never having used ChatGPT, while 22,36% uses it once per week, several times per week, or every day.
Sustainability, industry legislation and global politics are the main perceived external risks, and public affairs is key to managing their impact. “Climate change, Sustainability and ESG developments and regulations” (53,33%) and “Industry-specific developments and legislation” (42,67%) are the main external factors impacting organizations’ operational environment. They are closely followed by perceptions of political risk and uncertainty, in Europe and beyond, with respondents showing concern about “upcoming EU elections and the make-up of EU institutions” (41,33%), “political developments in EU member states” (36,00%) and “political developments in the US and US-EU relations” (29,33%). Almost three quarters of respondents agree that public affairs teams play a key role in helping their organization manage the impact of these issues.
Public affairs profession perceived as ‘below average’ when it comes to diversity. A significant 44% of respondents described the diversity of the public affairs profession in the country where they are based as ‘well below average’ or ‘somewhat below average’ in comparison to the labor market as a whole. Conversely, 64% responded that there are formal plans on an organization-wide basis to incorporate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) considerations into strategic planning.