Aurélie Caulier

Aurélie Caulier, the newly elected chair of Brussels’ European-only tech lobby, comes at a perfect time.

As Europe celebrates a new law to curb the power of Big Tech and uses legislation in the name of digital sovereignty to protect home-grown companies from unfair competition from state-subsidized foreign companies, Caulier has all the cards in her hand to boost the 35 companies in the European Tech Alliance. “We’ve been told a lot that it’s refreshing to talk to European players,” said Caulier.

The Frenchwoman wants to show Brussels that her lobby is one of the good ones. The 6-year-old trade group representing Spotify, Vinted, Klarna and DeliveryHero is there to bring a different perspective, according to Caulier: “We’re not moving elsewhere like some of the threats we’ve seen.”

Yet, the full-time EU lobbyist for Zalando, Germany’s e-commerce success story selling in 23 European countries, still faces challenges. For one, her lobby has neither the same financial backbone nor the full-time staff at hand as her competitors. At a time when EU lawmakers lament that the bloc is falling behind on new technology like artificial intelligence and quantum, Brussels’ legislative frenzy can be too much even for Caulier, who’s trying to shield European companies, despite her decade of experience in the capital.

Presenting a common European voice will also prove increasingly complicated, as her lobby is steadily recruiting new members with different business models and goals. Beyond the sweet talk about fostering European tech champions, Caulier will also have to increasingly convince lawmakers about why her lobby’s members — like Spotify, which has struggled to clamp down on misinformation — deserve special treatment based on their headquarters’ locations.

What to watch for this year: As Europe intensifies its “techlash” against Big Tech, will Caulier succeed in gaining Brussels’ favor?

What’s their superpower: Having strong connections in Brussels and a sharp understanding of the culture.

Influence score: 20/30