Ekomenzoge; Think Tanks In The European Capital Brussels


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Think Tank in the European Capital Brussels, Belgium. A seminar paper 'Political Aspects in European Integration, at Vrije University Brussels, Belgium

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Ekomenzoge; Think Tanks In The European Capital Brussels

  1. 1. THINK TANKS IN THE EUROPEAN CAPITAL <BRUSSELS> A seminar paper Political Aspects in the European Integration At Vrije University Brussels, Belgium 2006. By Ekomenzoge Metuge
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>[1.1] What is a Think Tank? What do they do? </li></ul><ul><li>[1.2] Definition of Think Tanks </li></ul><ul><li>[1.3] Typology of Think Tanks </li></ul><ul><li>[1.4] Missions of Think Tanks </li></ul>
  3. 3. [1.1] What is a Think Tank? What do they do? <ul><li>Think Tanks are organizations dedicated to researching and disseminating policy solutions that aim to contribute to the policy-making process . </li></ul><ul><li>A think tank is a research institute or other organization providing advice and ideas on problems of policy, commerce, and military interest, and are often associated with military laboratories, corporations, academia, or other institutions. Usually this term refers specifically to organizations which support multi-disciplinary theorists and who endeavor to produce analysis or policy recommendations. </li></ul>
  4. 4. [1.2] Definition of Think Tanks <ul><li>1 . permanent organizations </li></ul><ul><li>2. specialise in the production of public policy </li></ul><ul><li>solutions </li></ul><ul><li>3. in-house staff dedicated to research </li></ul><ul><li>4. generate an original production of ideas, analysis </li></ul><ul><li>and advice </li></ul><ul><li>5. Primary aim on communicating to policy-makers </li></ul><ul><li>and public opinion </li></ul><ul><li>7. Aim to maintain their research independence and not to be committed to particular interests . </li></ul><ul><li>8. main activity is not to train nor to grant diplomas. </li></ul><ul><li>9. their implicit or explicit goal is to contribute to the public good , unlike purely commercial groups. </li></ul><ul><li># Difference from related organizations </li></ul><ul><li>primary academic organizations </li></ul><ul><li>interest and pressure groups </li></ul>
  5. 5. [1.2] Definition of Think Tanks (2) <ul><li>6. not responsible for governmental activities. </li></ul><ul><li>7. maintain their research independence and not </li></ul><ul><li>to be committed to particular interests. </li></ul><ul><li>8. Their main activity is not to train nor to grant </li></ul><ul><li>diplomas. </li></ul><ul><li>9. their implicit or explicit goal is to contribute to </li></ul><ul><li>the public good </li></ul>
  6. 6. [1.3] Typology of Think Tanks <ul><li>Academic think tanks </li></ul><ul><li>Contract researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Advocacy tanks </li></ul><ul><li>Political party think tanks </li></ul>
  7. 7. [1.4] Missions of Euro-Specific Think Tanks <ul><li>What for were they created? </li></ul><ul><li>To help prepare a country for its accession to the EU </li></ul><ul><li>A government initiative to improve the level of analysis of EU policy in country </li></ul><ul><li>To provide a forum for the analysis of a country’s position within the EU </li></ul><ul><li>To examine a specific area of EU policy </li></ul>
  8. 8. Missions Today <ul><li>Promote better policy making </li></ul><ul><li>spread of the practical application of research results </li></ul><ul><li>promotion of “rationality in politics”, “decisions based on better analysis” </li></ul><ul><li>Increase the level of awareness and involvement of citizens in politics </li></ul><ul><li>Informing the public and other actors </li></ul><ul><li>Fosting public debate and promoting public in the policy process </li></ul>
  9. 9. Missions Today <ul><li>Assist policy-makers in their work </li></ul><ul><li>Providing platform for discussion with exparts </li></ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul><ul><li>Promote the general interest </li></ul><ul><li>Support the EU project </li></ul>
  10. 10. [2] Are Think Tanks relevant? <ul><li>[2.1] Do Think Tanks matter? </li></ul><ul><li>[2.2] Impact on decision making process is uncertain! </li></ul><ul><li>[2.3] Contribution to a more democratic and healthy decision making process. </li></ul><ul><li>[2.4] Reduction of democratic deficit. </li></ul>
  11. 11. [2.1] Do Think Tanks matter? <ul><li>Specific roles of Think Tanks: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Helping with the formulation of public policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoting healthy political and democratic practices within Europe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reducing the democratic deficit! </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. [2.2] Impact on decision making process is uncertain! <ul><li>Why is it difficult to measure? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional differences from one country to another </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity of Think Tanks and strategies used </li></ul></ul><ul><li> But TT remain important for their potential contribution to formulation of public policies! </li></ul>
  13. 13. [2.3] Contribution to a more democratic and healthy decision making process <ul><li>Basic research on policy problems and policy solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Provide advice on immediate policy concerns considered by government officials </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate government programs </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitators of issue networks and the exchange of ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Suppliers of personnel to government </li></ul><ul><li>Help interpret policies and current events for the electronic and printed media </li></ul>
  14. 14. EC Law Proposal Think Tank European Parliament Universities Institutions Private Sectors NGO´s Illustration
  15. 15. [2.4] Reduction of democratic deficit <ul><li>How? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Catalyst for ideas and actions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketplace for ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><li> Potential to engage citizens in varied and concrete ways in the management of society </li></ul>
  16. 16. [3] Funding <ul><li>[3.1] Sources </li></ul><ul><li>[3.2] Major Challenge: Money </li></ul><ul><li>[3.3] Project based funding </li></ul><ul><li>[3.4] Inadequate transparency </li></ul>
  17. 17. [3.1] Funding – Sources <ul><li>“ European thinks tanks seek to have funding from as broad a range of sources as possible. Hardly no think tank is solely relying on only 100 per cent state or private funding.” </li></ul><ul><li>Public </li></ul><ul><li>Private </li></ul><ul><li>Foundation and Trust Support </li></ul>
  18. 18. [3.1] Lack of Money <ul><li>Other sources: publication sales, events income, fees for training courses and consultancy work, membership fees, and individual donations </li></ul><ul><li>Funding by European Commission: € 3.5 million (2004) </li></ul>
  19. 19. 3.2 Funding- Major Challenges;Money <ul><li>“ Most think tanks are in a budgetary crisis.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Austrian Institute for International Affairs) </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>Sources of (public) funding are insufficient and in decline </li></ul><ul><li>New think tanks --> more competition </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of permanence in public funding </li></ul>
  20. 20. 3.2 Funding- Major Challenges;Money 2 <ul><li>Funding are difficult to access (calls for tender from European Commission) </li></ul><ul><li>Positive effect of financial constraints: prove efficiency, justify existence </li></ul>
  21. 21. 3.3] Funding– Project based funding <ul><li>Funding core activities vs. specific projects: (Private) funding is project-based and short term, whereas think tanks would welcome ”on-going” funding </li></ul><ul><li>Consequences: </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term viability in danger </li></ul><ul><li>Not enough investment in organisational capacity (for example research teams) </li></ul><ul><li>Dependence? </li></ul><ul><li>Possible solution: diversify funding sources </li></ul>
  22. 22. 3.4] Funding - Inadequate transparency <ul><li>” Many EU think tanks are unwilling to provide basic information about who funds their work.” (Survey ”Transparency Unthinkable?”, by Corporate European Observatory - CEO) </li></ul><ul><li>Most transparent Brussels-based EU think tank: Bruegel </li></ul><ul><li>Least transparent are the ”radical free market think tanks”: Centre for the New Europe - CNR, European Entreprise Institute, Lisbon Council et. al. </li></ul>
  23. 23. [3.4] Funding - Inadequate transparency (2) <ul><li>CEO: ”These (new generations of think tanks) receive corporate sponsorship but are in fact nothing more than corporate front groups.” </li></ul><ul><li>CNR: receives donations from Exxon Mobile </li></ul><ul><li>CNR President, Tim Evans: ”Kyoto will chill the global economy.” (The Daily Telegraph (letter), October 2, 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Solution?: new Belgian law requires from Jan.1 2006 annual financial report (but: no legal obligations to specify sources of income) </li></ul>
  24. 24. [4] Overview on the most importent Think Tanks in Brussels <ul><li>[4.1]The most important think tanks located in Brussels </li></ul><ul><li>[4.2] The basic traits of Brussels think tanks </li></ul><ul><li>[4.3] Other organisations which are performing some of </li></ul><ul><li>think tank’s duties </li></ul><ul><li>[4.4] Lobby group think tank hybrids that contribute to </li></ul><ul><li>EU policy making </li></ul><ul><li>[4.5] EU branches of US think tanks, based in Brussels </li></ul><ul><li>or around the EU </li></ul>
  25. 25. [4.1]The most important think tanks located in Brussels <ul><li>CEPS (Centre for European Policy Studies) </li></ul><ul><li>The EPC (European Policy Centre) </li></ul><ul><li>The European Network of Economic Policy Research Institutes (ENEPRI) </li></ul><ul><li>Lisbon Council for Economic Competitiveness </li></ul><ul><li>BRUEGEL </li></ul><ul><li>European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) </li></ul><ul><li>International Security Information Service (ISIS Europe) </li></ul><ul><li>European Observatoire Social Européen </li></ul><ul><li>Centre for the New Europe (CNE) </li></ul>
  26. 26. [4.2] The basic traits of Brussels think tanks <ul><li>Nearly all think tanks in Brussels are established as independent not-for-profit associations under Belgian law and they offer similar services . </li></ul><ul><li>Their audiences are EU decision-makers, national governments and media. </li></ul><ul><li>They have neutral or more frequently pro-European agenda </li></ul><ul><li>All seek to diversify their funding base to preserve their independence </li></ul><ul><li>Specialisation can be in Euro-think tanks' areas of research </li></ul><ul><li>They try to offer different approaches to EU matters </li></ul>
  27. 27. [ 4.3] Other organisations which are performing some of think tank’s duties <ul><li>Discussion forums - Friends of Europe; Forum Europe </li></ul><ul><li>A hybrid between think tank and a consultancy - The Centre </li></ul><ul><li>Networks: </li></ul><ul><li> TEPSA (Trans-European Policy Association) </li></ul><ul><li>EPIN (European Policy Institutes Network) </li></ul><ul><li>European Ideas Network </li></ul><ul><li>European Madariaga Foundation </li></ul><ul><li>The Commission has its own ”brain box”: </li></ul><ul><li>Group of Policy Advisers (created 1992 by Jacques Delors). </li></ul>
  28. 28. [4.4] Lobby group think tank hybrids that contribute to EU policy making <ul><li>European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) </li></ul><ul><li>The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) </li></ul><ul><li>The International Crisis Group (ICG) </li></ul><ul><li>The European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) </li></ul><ul><li>European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) </li></ul><ul><li>Industry lobby UNICE </li></ul><ul><li>Trade union lobby ETUC. </li></ul>
  29. 29. [4.5] EU branches of US think tanks, based in Brussels or around the EU <ul><li>RAND Europe </li></ul><ul><li>East West Institute (EWI) </li></ul><ul><li>Aspen Institute </li></ul>
  30. 30. [5] BRUEGEL <ul><li>[5.1] Why BRUEGEL was created? </li></ul><ul><li>[5.2] What is BRUEGEL and what are its aims? </li></ul><ul><li>[5.3] 5 characteristic key features </li></ul><ul><li>[5.4] Governance </li></ul><ul><li>[5.5] Research and activities </li></ul><ul><li>[5.6] 4 main themes </li></ul><ul><li>[5.7] Financial resources </li></ul><ul><li>[5.8] What substantiates the claim that BRUEGEL’s research is independent? </li></ul>
  31. 31. [5.1] BRUEGEL <ul><li>Bru ssels E uropean and G lobal E conomic Laboratory </li></ul><ul><li>Why BRUEGEL was created? </li></ul><ul><li>Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac expressed their intention to create a &quot;European Centre for International Economics&quot; on January, 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>A project group (supported by 12 EU governments and 17 European corporations)  </li></ul><ul><li>Election of the Board in December 2004, first Board meeting on 17 January 2005 </li></ul>
  32. 32. [5.2] What is BRUEGEL and what are its aims? <ul><li>Pieter Bruegel, the Elder </li></ul><ul><li>Non-profit international association under Belgian law </li></ul><ul><li>Involving both public and private members </li></ul><ul><li>Macroeconomics and international finance </li></ul><ul><li>Markets and regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Trade, migration and development </li></ul><ul><li>BRUEGEL is not part of the institutional framework of the EU </li></ul>
  33. 33. [5.3] 5 characteristic key features <ul><li>An outward-oriented focus </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence-based policy recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>Demand-driven questions, independent answers </li></ul><ul><li>A concrete link between government, research, business and civil society </li></ul><ul><li>A genuinely European reach </li></ul>
  34. 34. [5.4] Governance <ul><li>The Board consists of 11 individuals. Chairman Mario Monti </li></ul><ul><li>The Board is composed of representatives from government, the private sector and civil society </li></ul><ul><li>Board members are elected for 3 years </li></ul><ul><li>The Board appoints the Director who manages BRUEGEL and represents it externally. Jean Pisani-Ferry </li></ul><ul><li>The scientific Council is appointed by the Board and consists of 8 internationally recognised scholars and experts </li></ul><ul><li>Members (13 states and 23 corporate members) </li></ul>
  35. 35. [5.5] Research and activities <ul><li>It will rely on a team of high-quality scholars and on a network of partnerships with European research institutions </li></ul><ul><li>All research conducted at the BRUEGEL is destined for publication </li></ul><ul><li>Outcomes: publications, discussions, presentations, seminars, conferences and lectures </li></ul><ul><li>Initial research programme (ending 2006) is about European integration and globalisation </li></ul>
  36. 36. [5.6] 4 main themes <ul><li>1. Europe's growth and reform strategy </li></ul><ul><li>2. European integration and competitiveness </li></ul><ul><li>3. Challenges and policies for the Euro Area </li></ul><ul><li>4. Europe and the world economy </li></ul>
  37. 37. [5.7] Financial resources <ul><li>Yearly subscriptions by its members </li></ul><ul><li>The funding commitment was taken by members for 3 years </li></ul><ul><li>For 2005 the contribution from existing members was €2 million </li></ul><ul><li>2004-2006 the amount should be about €5 millions </li></ul><ul><li>Diversified funding base (applying for project-based financing from public institutions or foundations) </li></ul>
  38. 38. [5.8] What substantiates the claim that BRUEGEL’s research is independent? <ul><li>It has widely diverse funding base that prevents any single funder from exerting a dominant influence </li></ul><ul><li>Board members act in a personal capacity and are fully independent in the execution of their duty  </li></ul><ul><li>Board is statutorily required to take no role in the release of publications </li></ul><ul><li>All publications will be released under the signature of their author(s) and BRUEGEL itself will abstain from taking policy positions </li></ul><ul><li>The members are consulted for the identification of possible future research topics. Drawing on a proposal from the Director, the Board decides on the research agenda. Members cannot interfere in the conduct and the output of the research </li></ul><ul><li>All output is made available to public scrutiny </li></ul>
  39. 39. Comparison of EU and US TT <ul><li>[6.1] – General comparison between the EU and the US think tanks </li></ul><ul><li>[6.2] – Specific comparison between American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Bruegel think tanks </li></ul><ul><li>[6.3] – Short list of US and EU think tanks </li></ul>
  40. 40. [6.1] General Comparison <ul><li>History and impetus for existence – US think tanks established earlier and to correct what was seen as 'liberal, anti-business bias' in US universities in the wake of Vietnam war. EU think tanks don't have as much experience; established as a means of managing EU development and integration. </li></ul><ul><li>Scope of effect – US TTs have national playing field and effect a wide range of policies. EU TTs, even Euro-specific ones, act from a national level, and mostly look at policies directly connected to the construction of the EU. </li></ul>
  41. 41. [6.1] General Comparison (2) <ul><li>Influence – US TTs have a great influence in shaping not only policymakers' views, but also that of the public through a great deal of media exposure. EU TTs have both less direct policy impact and public visibility </li></ul><ul><li>Funding – US TTs are overwhelmingly privately funded and established TTs can have very large budgets. EU TTs budgets are a great deal more modest, and though in the beginning public financial support was substantial, currently they are turning to private funding as well. </li></ul>
  42. 42. [6.2] AEI and Bruegel <ul><li>History </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AEI was created in 1943 to prevent Congress from making wartime price and production controls permanent. Rose to national prominence in 1970s as one of the most influential, pro-business right-wing TTs in the US. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bruegel created in 2004 as an independent TT focused on international economics, hoping to “make its full contribution to international debates on economic, financial and trade policy”. </li></ul></ul>
  43. 43. [6.2] AEI and Bruegel (2) <ul><li>Budget </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AEI's total 2003 revenue, the most recent accounting available, was just over $24m. According to their website, 36% of the revenue is received from individuals, 35% from foundations, 23% from corporations and the remaining 6% from sales and conferences. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bruegel's funding is thus far completely comprised of annual member contributions. For 2005 that has totalled just over 2m Euros. The important fact is that each corporate member donates the same yearly amount (50.000 euros each this year, or no more than 7% of total budget), which has thus far ensured Bruegel's independence. </li></ul></ul>
  44. 44. [6.2] AEI and Bruegel (3) <ul><li>Relations with Government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AEI is extremely well-connected on the political scene. When President G.W. Bush gave a speech in January of 2003 at an AEI dinner, he praised the work of AEI and went on to say: &quot;You do such good work that my administration has borrowed 20 such minds.&quot; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bruegel's Board, as has been mentioned, consists of individuals who are, or have been, directly involved in politics on the EU level, as well as that of Germany, Hungary and Spain, as well as important members of a number of large banks and corporations. As such, an organization with that kind of wide variety of backgrounds can have little to no collective impact on policy-making of any particular country </li></ul></ul>
  45. 45. [7] Sources <ul><li>www.notre-europe.asso.fr/IMG/pdf/Etud35-en.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>www.shift -zone.be/share/bruegel/Repositories/Documents/PressBrief_180105.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.euractiv.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>www.bruegel.org </li></ul><ul><li>www.aei.org </li></ul><ul><li>www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Think_tanks </li></ul><ul><li>http://rightweb.irc-online.org/org/aei.php </li></ul>
  46. 46. [8] Questions <ul><li>What is ”better”? Core activities funding or project based funding? </li></ul><ul><li>Do Think Tanks necessarily have to be independent? Shouldn’t they rather be more partisan and take an identifiable position? </li></ul>