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What We Learned At The Brussels Trust Summit 2019

Brussels Trust Summit 2019

Our 3rd annual Brussels Trust Summit saw some fascinating discussion on where trust comes from, how people in the Brussels bubble can build it and what we can expect to see from European politics as...

Our 3rd annual Brussels Trust Summit saw some fascinating discussion on where trust comes from, how people in the Brussels bubble can build it and what we can expect to see from European politics as we navigate the ever changing political landscape of 2019.

We were honoured to welcome two global Edelman leaders for the Brussels Trust Summit.

Global COO Matthew Harrington presented the 2019 Trust Barometer data while Edelman Special Advisor and Mexican Ambassador Emeritus Sandra Fuentes-Berain gave the closing remarks. Matthew Harrington outlined global trends and how they compared to the EU specific data, which Brussels General Manager Gurpreet Brar presented.

This was the first year Edelman was able to show data on how respondents felt about the European Union as an institution. With European elections in May as well as more than 10 national or federal elections occurring in EU member states this year, it was a timely opportunity to expand our annual study to questions about the EU.

And that’s all without mentioning Brexit.

There were four key takeaways from this data:

1. Trust in the EU is increasing
In many cases, EU citizens actually trust the EU more than their own national governments. Despite the past decade of EU level challenges and problems, citizens are along for the ride – even in the UK.

2. Disparities remain between informed & mass populations
The inequity between informed and mass populations are a trend around the world and Europe is no exception. There were double digit trust gaps in 4 of 6 EU markets we surveyed.

3. Issue of immigration continues to dominate citizen concerns
Many public affairs professionals in Brussels spend most of their time working on food, technology, trade or healthcare, but EU voters are far more concerned about immigration and jobs – people working in the Bubble would do well to remember that.

4. More EU citizens favour a globally focused EU
Economic protectionism, it seems, is a niche policy interest for Europeans – even if it is a very noisy niche that supports them. On average, 59% of EU voters want the EU to remain a global player.

You can also see the global results here.

Following the presentation of our Trust data, there were two lively panels tackling related topics which prompted a lot of questions from attendees.

Brussels Trust Summit

The first panel was moderated by Paul Maassen, Chief of Country Support at the Open Government Partnership, an international partnership that
brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive and accountable – we were very excited to have them support the Brussels Trust Summit this year.

This panel discussed the challenges of online disinformation, the threats of election interference, and discussed how regulation might look to solve the issues associated with the online information economy.

There was a sense of growing dissatisfaction with the existing information landscape. Panelists had lost trust in both what is being presented to them – even if it is true – and the ability of populations to sift through false or misleading information. The threat of demanding more from citizens is that they disengage entirely, something borne out in the 2019 Trust results.

In the near future, the expectation seemed to be for further fragmentation, at least until the policy community can clearly articulate what a good information landscape might look like and agree steps to work towards it. In any case, real change is likely to come from the EU.

The second panel was moderated by our Digital Specialist Rowan Emslie who led a discussion on who trusts whom in Brussels. This panel had representatives of businesses, NGOs, online platforms and the traditional media – hearing where their respective points of view converged was fascinating for audience members whose work is to navigate the ‘unique village’ that is the Brussels policy community.

Brussels Trust Summit

There was consensus on how to build trust – act with integrity, be authentic and never over-promise.

Brussels is a small community where reputations are easy to lose. There are any number of interests represented in town and people can learn to trust representatives of just about any point of view – we don’t have to agree with somebody to trust them. This was heartening to hear from such a mixed panel.

Leaders of the future will need to have the courage to speak out on societal issues and stand by their convictions. As the global Trust Barometer results noted, more and more people expect businesses and CEOs to take the lead – there is nothing to say future leaders have to be from the public sector.

A big thank you to all panelists and speakers. You can find all of them and their organisations here on this list – please give them a follow!

If you or your organisation want to speak to Edelman about building trust please get in touch.

Edelman Brussels Trust Summit 2019 [Invite]

Brussels Trust Summit 2019

Brussels Trust Summit 2019 - the event you've been waiting for! Join us for the European cut of the Edelman Trust Barometer as well as insightful discussion about the EU in 2019 and beyond.

Brussels Trust Summit 2019

19 March 2018, 13:30-17:00 | Brussels

We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for the third annual Edelman Brussels Trust Summit 2019.

As political unrest and unbridled advances in automation threaten job security and the vitality of global supply chains, people are increasingly expecting business to ease their fears and lead the way forward. 

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer examines how well CEOs and employers are addressing their employees’ concerns about the changing world of work, preparing workforces — and society — for the future, and taking actions that build trust inside and outside their organizations.

At this half day event, our General Manager, Gurpreet Brar, will present the findings of the 19th annual Edelman Trust Barometer, the world’s most robust exploration of trust in business, government, NGOs and media, surveying more than 33,000 respondents in 27 markets.

Two panel discussions will explore the implications of the findings.



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2019 Edelman Trust Barometer

Edelman Brussels Trust Event 2019

The global trust results are here and ready to be downloaded. Please stay tuned for the Brussels Trust event in March where we will present the EU specific findings ahead of the European Elections.

Ahead of the Edelman Brussels Trust Event 2019 in March, please take a look at the Global Results below.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust has changed profoundly in the past year—people have shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their employers. Globally, 75 percent of people trust “my employer” to do what is right, significantly more than NGOs (57 percent), business (56 percent) and media (47 percent).

Divided by trust

There is a 16-point gap between the more trusting informed public and the far-more-skeptical mass population, marking a return to record highs of trust inequality. The phenomenon fueling this divide was a pronounced rise in trust among the informed public. Markets such as the U.S., UK, Canada, South Korea and Hong Kong saw trust gains of 12 points or more among the informed public. In 18 markets, there is now a double-digit trust gap between the informed public and the mass population.

Edelman Brussels Trust event 2019

An urgent desire for change

Despite the divergence in trust between the informed public and mass population the world is united on one front—all share an urgent desire for change. Only one in five feels that the system is working for them, with nearly half of the mass population believing that the system is failing them.

In conjunction with pessimism and worry, there is a growing move toward engagement and action. In 2019, engagement with the news surged by 22 points; 40 percent not only consume news once a week or more, but they also routinely amplify it. But people are encountering roadblocks in their quest for facts, with 73 percent worried about fake news being used as a weapon.

Edelman Brussels Trust event 2019

The New Employer-Employee Contract

Despite a high lack of faith in the system, there is one relationship that remains strong: “my employer.” Fifty-eight percent of general population employees say they look to their employer to be a trustworthy source of information about contentious societal issues.

Employees are ready and willing to trust their employers, but the trust must be earned through more than “business as usual.” Employees’ expectation that prospective employers will join them in taking action on societal issues (67 percent) is nearly as high as their expectations of personal empowerment (74 percent) and job opportunity (80 percent).

The rewards of meeting these expectations and building trust are great. Employees who have trust in their employer are far more likely to engage in beneficial actions on their behalf—they will advocate for the organization (a 39-point trust advantage), are more engaged (33 points), and remain far more loyal (38 points) and committed (31 points) than their more skeptical counterparts.

In addition, 71 percent of employees believe it’s critically important for “my CEO” to respond to challenging times. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of the general population concur—they say they want CEOs to take the lead on change instead of waiting for government to impose it.

Introducing Edelman Trust Management

Over the last 19 years, the Edelman Trust Barometer has detected and documented some of the largest opinion shifts shaping the world. We have observed that the state and dynamic of trust in institutions was in many ways predictive of larger societal, economic and political changes to come.

This year we broke new ground. A collaboration with leading academics in the field of trust and reputation, including Professor Daniel Diermeier of the University of Chicago, resulted in considerable progress in our understanding of what makes trust such a powerful asset for organizations, how to measure it accurately and how to demonstrate the true value it brings.

Edelman Trust Management is a suite of powerful, flexible analytical tools and consulting services that help a business or organization best manage its trust capital among its audiences, stakeholders and shareholders.

Edelman Brussels Trust event 2019

2019 Edelman Brussels Trust Event

Contact us for more information about the Edelman Trust Barometer and Edelman Trust Management.

Trust Barometer 2018: The Battle for Truth

trust summit 2018

Trust Summit 2018 28 March 2018, 14:00-18:00 | Brussels Presented by Edelman Brussels and the Public Affairs Council, with special thanks to our summit partners Pfizer and EY. Please register now to ensure attendance. Building...

trust summit 2018

Trust Summit 2018

28 March 2018, 14:00-18:00 | Brussels

Presented by Edelman Brussels and the Public Affairs Council, with special thanks to our summit partners Pfizer and EY. Please register now to ensure attendance.

Building on the success of last year’s European Trust Summit, the 2018 edition will take place on 28 March.

Co-presented by the Public Affairs Council and Edelman, we expect to attract over 100 mid- to senior-level government officials and public affairs professionals.

The publication of the Edelman 2018 Trust Barometer, along with major changes in social, regulatory and business trends have made this senior-level discussion a must-attend event for crafting your corporate or association strategy for 2018.


  • PAC Members: €50
  • Non-Members: €95

Prices exclude VAT @ 21%, includes light refreshments, handouts, and an evening reception.

Get your tickets here.

Speakers include

Register now.

Event Location

Thon Hotel EU
Rue de la Loi 75


13:30-14:00 Arrival/Check-in

14:00-14:20 Keynote speech

14:20-14:25 Why trust matters for corporate governance

14:25-14:50 Trust Barometer Findings

14:50-15:50 Panel I:

  • The issues businesses face in building trust with consumers
  • The role NGOs play in influencing their policy agendas
  • The reasons for and consequences of increased trust in employers

15:50-16:15 Coffee Break

16:15-17:15 Panel 2:

  • Media, platforms and spokespeople, and the actions media and regulators can take in this complex environment.

17:15-18:00 Closing remarks

18:00 Reception



The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals the largest-ever drop in trust across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs. Trust in media (43 percent) fell precipitously and is at all-time lows in 17 countries,...

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals the largest-ever drop in trust across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs. Trust in media (43 percent) fell precipitously and is at all-time lows in 17 countries, while trust levels in government (41 percent) dropped in 14 markets and is the least trusted institution in half of the 28 countries surveyed. The credibility of leaders also is in peril: CEO credibility dropped 12 points globally to an all-time low of 37 percent, plummeting in every country studied, while government leaders (29 percent) remain least credible.

The Trust Barometer found that 53 percent of respondents believe the current overall system has failed them—it is unfair and offers little hope for the future—while only 15 percent believe it is working, and approximately one-third are uncertain. Even the elites have a lack of faith in the system, with 48 percent of the top quartile in income, 49 percent of the college-educated and a majority of the well-informed (51 percent) saying the system has failed.

The gap between the trust held by the informed public and that of the mass population has widened to 15 points, with the biggest disparities in the U.S. (21points), U.K. (19 points) and France (18 points). The mass population in 20 countries distrusts their institutions, compared to only six for the informed public.

“The implications of the global trust crisis are deep and wide-ranging,” said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman. “It began with the Great Recession of 2008, but like the second and third waves of a tsunami, globalization and technological change have further weakened people’s trust in global institutions. The consequence is virulent populism and nationalism as the mass population has taken control away from the elites.”

Current populist movements are fueled by a lack of trust in the system and economic and societal fears, including corruption (40 percent), immigration (28 percent), globalization (27 percent), eroding social values (25 percent) and the pace of innovation (22 percent). Countries coupling a lack of faith in the system with deep fears, such as the U.S., U.K. and Italy have seen the election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote and the failed Italian referendum.

The cycle of distrust is magnified by the emergence of a media echo chamber that reinforces personal beliefs while shutting out opposing points of view. Respondents favor search engines (59 percent) over human editors (41 percent) and are nearly four times more likely to ignore information that supports a position they do not believe in.

“People now view media as part of the elite,” said Edelman. “The result is a proclivity for self-referential media and reliance on peers. The lack of trust in media has also given rise to the fake news phenomenon and politicians speaking directly to the masses. Media outlets must take a more local and social approach.”

There is evidence of even further dispersion of authority. A person like yourself (60 percent) is now just as credible a source of information about a company as is a technical (60 percent) or academic (60 percent) expert, and far more credible than a CEO (37 percent) and government official (29 percent).

Of the four institutions, business is viewed as the only one that can make a difference. Three out of four respondents agree a company can take actions to both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community where it operates. Moreover, among those who are uncertain about whether the system is working for them, it is business (58 percent) that they trust most.

Yet business finds itself on the brink of distrust, and perhaps most concerning for business is the perceived role the public sees it playing in stoking their fears. A majority of the global population surveyed worries about losing their jobs due to the impacts of globalization (60 percent), lack of training or skills (60 percent), immigrants who work for less (58 percent), jobs moving to cheaper markets (55 percent) and automation (54 percent).

“After the challenges of 2016, 2017 has the potential to be a whole lot worse,” said Gurpreet Brar, General Manager for the Edelman Brussels office. “Across the continent we are seeing challenges materialise for the key pillars of society – politicians, business leaders, NGOS and the media – as the belief in the current system falters and a loss of trust in institutions becomes mainstream.”

“With this backdrop we have to ask ourselves, if we actually want to preserve these institutions, what we should do: the answers will be complex, but one simple conclusion is that a top-down solution will not do.”

Other key findings from the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer include:

• Trust in business (52 percent) dropped in 18 countries, while NGOs (53 percent) saw drop-offs as high as 10 points across 21 countries.

• Employees, on average, are trusted 16 points more than CEOs on messaging around employee/customer relations (53 percent), financial earnings (38 percent), crises (37 percent), innovation (33 percent), industry issues (32 percent) or programs addressing societal issues (30 percent).

• Half of the countries surveyed have lost faith in the system, led by France (72 percent) and Italy (72 percent), Mexico (67 percent), South Africa (67 percent) and Spain (67 percent).

• Trust in traditional media fell 5 points to 57 percent, the steepest decline among platforms since 2012, followed by social media (41 percent), which dropped 3 points. By contrast, online-only media (51 percent) received the biggest bump in trust at 5 points.

Read the full report here:



Edelman has launched Edelman Edge, the first global campaigning methodology designed to provide a comprehensive, objective analysis of the communications environment anywhere in the world. Edelman Edge provides a science-based framework to easily adapt multi-market...

has launched Edelman Edge, the first global campaigning methodology designed to provide a comprehensive, objective analysis of the communications environment anywhere in the world.

Edelman Edge provides a science-based framework to easily adapt multi-market campaigns to local market conditions. Using a proprietary market research model, Edelman Edge helps companies and governments to understand and better leverage the key drivers that shape issue-centric campaigning based on a consistent analysis of the structural and environmental factors as well as the latest social science.

Stephanie Lvovich, global chair of public affairs at Edelman, said “Public affairs and issue campaigning are in the middle of an important revolution, and at Edelman we are seeking to lead innovation in global issue campaigning. As a discipline, public affairs was built on local expertise and knowledge, and these continue to be important factors in success today. However, as clients’ global footprints have expanded, they often don’t have the expertise or communications staff on the ground where they operate. Today, issues spread across borders so quickly creating an additional need for a framework through which to manage the same issue across multiple geographies”.

The Edelman Edge model analyses 25 political, economic, social and cultural drivers that determine the campaigning and stakeholder engagement environments in a market. It provides a digestible roadmap for senior public affairs practitioners who need to understand the diverse, multi-market/multi-regional landscape that they manage. Edelman Edge helps companies understand not only the key communications and advocacy attributes of each market, but also provides a science-based, consistent explanation of WHY the market’s campaigning environment is the way it is.

Edelman Edge captures the subtle but very important nuances among markets, and accurately paints a picture of the stakeholder environment anywhere in the world. This understanding then forms the basis of Edge country and regional reports that inform how a global strategy or communications campaign can be nuanced and tailored to suit a wide variety of market contexts.

“We created Edelman Edge to provide an additional layer of insights to inform campaign strategy – it is a completely unique prism through which to understand the communications and advocacy environment around the world. The Edge gives clients clear and actionable guidance on how to effectively localise global campaigns and identify synergies in execution through a more intelligent hub and spokes model,” Lvovich said. “It is particularly relevant for clients who have a global, regional or multi-geography role or are managing issues across borders.”

Edelman Edge country reports and other materials will be hosted on an online platform and available to download on demand. For more information about the Edge, visit

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