By Songul Arslan
The Hague is the diplomatic heart of the Netherlands. In addition, the city harbours countless NGOs and organizations that are related to international relations, cooperation and business development. An example of such an organization is the European Investment Council (EIC). The EIC is a non-profit organisation which has the mission to facilitate trade and investment opportunities for its members. They are specialized in lobbying, international relations and delegations.
Moreover, their focus is international trade relations worldwide, at the same time covering all related parties such as governments, organizations in the private sector and non-governmental organizations. With the focus on all institutions , the EIC is unique in connecting and arranging contacts, among others, through matchmaking. More specifically, the EIC helps companies throughout their investment process, from the moment of finding potential partners to promoting their businesses, from organizing seminars, meetings with senior government officials and their participation in investment missions and trade fairs. EIC’s support extends to assisting official economic and commercial delegations by providing the most suitable governmental and business environment. They do this through creating a setting that will help bridge the differences in culture, language, and standard practices.
The EIC is headed by a Board of Governors which is responsible for the realisation of the mission statement and the sound execution of the goals within acceptable financial limits. Diplomat Magazine interviewed Co-Chairman of the Board Mr. Nico Leerdam.
Mr. Nico Leerdam, can you explain in short what the EIC does? Our mission is to facilitate trade and investment opportunities for its members. This can apply to all industries that interested parties want to do business in. For instance, on the field of renewable energy we arrange deals with some countries on new energies and sustainable projects. We have organized clean technology seminars and “Doing business in greening economies” seminars. We assist Embassies and business partners in finding their way in the Netherlands and the regulations affecting them. For example EIC organised seminars in cooperation with the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice on the Modern Migration Policy regarding business expatriates. This combination is not the first thing that comes to mind but because of our connections and experience, we can connect different fields and realise our mission.
What made you decide to join the EIC? In 2009 I was cooperating with a trade delegation, in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Affairs as project manager. The EIC has a unique selling point with helping out parties, in programming visits of delegations. I found it very fascinating. From then on, I got involved with more international projects and I decided to join the EIC.
What do you think is the greatest advantage of the EIC? Our colleagues engaged with the EIC, know how to share their experience and knowledge. Furthermore, they come from all imaginable areas and industries, not only the business sector or government sector which gives the EIC an edge.
What are its challenges?
The challenge is always to find relevant topics that will appeal to everybody without being too specific. There is a fine balance between a general appeal of a specific topic and each time we organise a seminar, we have to deal with it. The key is to find the right context.
In the context of international relations and diplomacy, where would you categorize the EIC? EIC is a connecting hub. We are connecting companies, governments, Embassies, NGOs, business institutions and individuals. We are the linking pin on various topics.
Can you tell us something about the EIC that most people don’t know? The network and the experts around the EIC are unique. For instance, some of our colleagues might be retired but their network and their knowledge is not, in fact, they are invaluable. Our team has a determination and passion which translates into the projects. Combining these, it results in high quality activities. Through this unique setting, we can get good results, even at the last minute.