Public Affairs Council

1. Background

With 40+ European-level legal initiatives around digital, plus countless others in Belgium, digital regulatory issues are increasingly important to every organisation, and have become a major focus of Public Affairs departments.

That is why Beltug set up the Public Affairs council, to give Public Affairs professionals the opportunity to discuss digital legislation, policies and topics with their peers, and inform Beltug about the key issues.
The Beltug Public Affairs council acts as a sounding board to support Beltug in its efforts to build positions on the most pressing issues, and to point out the bottlenecks in legislation.

2. Scope and mission

The goals of the Public Affairs task force will be to:

  • Act as a sounding board giving feedback on (upcoming) legislation
  • Flag issues that go against business users’ interests
  • Bring Beltug’s position to the attention of relevant stakeholders
  • Discuss new challenges
  • Exchange information and facilitate coalition-building on common positions of Beltug members

The members of the Public Affairs council will define the topics for discussion and the agendas for their meetings. Topics can include all issues relevant for the members, mostly related to national and European topics, but they could extend beyond the European borders or (contrarily) focus on specific regional or local issues.

Beltug will use the findings and suggestions of the Public Affairs council to inform its members, and to develop positions and activities when and if relevant.
Some of the topics Beltug works on that are very relevant to Public Affairs include Belgian privacy law and the reform of the DPA, the implementation of the NIS2 at the Belgian level, the EU-level acts on AI and data, and the eIDAS Regulation, to name only a few.

Organisation of events is not intended to be within the scope of this initiative, as that is already part of the regular Beltug activities.

Conclusions, best practices and insights may be communicated to the other members via the usual Beltug activities.
The set-up of the Public Affairs council is flexible, informal, consensual and determined together with the members of the group. Beltug facilitates the Public Affairs council. If needed, Beltug cuts the knot on decisions to be taken, always with a view on the interests of the Beltug community and the constructive functioning of the Public Affairs council.

3. Members: who can apply?

Interested Beltug members can apply at info@beltug.be.
Public Affairs council members are knowledgeable about public affairs; their roles may include interacting with policy makers, explaining the organisation’s policy decisions, etc. They have a high willingness to share their expertise.

Delegates’ organisations:

  • represent the user side (the Council is not open for representatives from IT service providers)
  • hold a Beltug membership that permits participation in the task force (note: a Corporate Basic membership allows your organisation to participate in 1 task force; with a Corporate Premium membership, your company can have delegates in as many task forces as you want).

For certain profiles, such as lawyers or in-house consultants, Beltug will review the application on a case-by-case basis.

This Council is in no way a platform for commercial purposes.

4. Participation

Participation in the Public Affairs council by its members is a key component of its success. The Council convenes regularly, with the frequency of meetings determined collaboratively by its members. Active involvement is expected from all members, who are encouraged to share their experiences, propose relevant topics, make presentations, and attend gatherings consistently.

Meetings are conducted through both online and in-person formats, providing flexibility for participants. Building trust among members is paramount to facilitate open information sharing, and regular attendance plays a vital role in establishing and strengthening these personal connections.

From time to time, the Council may extend invitations to non-member experts or individuals with specialised experience in specific topics, in order to contribute to the discussions and enrich the collective expertise of the group. This collaborative approach ensures that diverse perspectives are brought to the table for comprehensive insights and solutions.

Public Affairs representatives from IT service providers can be invited to certain meetings as a guest:

  • to discuss topics that do not involve conflicting interests between business users and IT service providers
  • to listen to their positions

5. Confidentiality

Meetings follow the Chatham House Rule: participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. However, the conclusions of the task force’s conversations can be used to share knowledge and best practices with the Beltug community.

6. Potential conflicts of interest

In the Public Affairs council, maintaining ethical conduct and transparency is paramount. If a potential conflict of interest arises during discussions, the concerned member will proactively inform the Council. Subsequently, the member will not be involved in determining Beltug’s position on that particular issue.

This proactive disclosure ensures open communication and helps identify any situations where personal or professional interests may influence decision-making. By excluding the involved member from the decision-making process for the specific issue, the Council preserves objectivity and impartiality in its recommendations.

Through this approach, the Council reinforces its commitment to the highest ethical standards and fosters an atmosphere of trust and collaboration. It ensures that Beltug’s positions are based on collective expertise and are in the best interests of the broader community. Transparency in addressing potential conflicts of interest enhances the credibility of the Council’s contributions and strengthens its impact on initiatives.