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Open Europe


Open Europe

Open Europe
The Status Quo is Not an Option
Formation 2005
Legal status Non-profit
Purpose Original research into EU reform
Headquarters London, United Kingdom Brussels
Raoul Ruparel and Stephen Booth
Affiliations Open Europe Berlin, Stockholm Network
Website Open Europe
Open Europe's London Office
William Hague giving a speech to Open Europe on 16 July 2013
Open Europe's EU War Game negotiation simulation with former Irish PM John Bruton

Open Europe is a [1]

The think-tank was set up by business people and is a proponent of a flexible model for European integration, allowing for EU member states to integrate with each other to different degrees and for powers to also be returned from the EU to member states.[2] Open Europe is an advocate of an economically liberal EU Single Market as well as supportive of the EU's freedom of movement, but has called for less EU involvement in several other policy areas.

Open Europe conducts research; organises events; sends out a daily European press summary compiled by a multilingual research team, and is active on social media.

Open Europe was awarded "International Think Tank of the Year 2012" by Prospect Magazine.[1]


Open Europe was launched on 20 October 2005 in London by business people "to contribute positive new thinking to the debate about the future direction of the European Union".[3][4]


Supporters and funding

Neither Open Europe nor its research is funded by any government, the EU,[8] NGO or public company. Open Europe is funded by private donations.[9] A full list of Open Europe's supporters is found on its website.[10] Prominent supporters include:

The group is independent and does not have a partisan affiliation, although it has a partnership with the Conservative party's Fresh Start Project which uses the group's publications as a basis for discussion, and some of its funders are also big supporters of the Conservative party from the business world. [9]

Open Europe is a member of the Stockholm Network of economically liberal think tanks.[11]


Open Europe regularly publishes original research[12] aimed at promoting new ideas among key EU policy makers, business people and academics.

Throughout the eurozone and European debt crises, Open Europe has produced ongoing research and commentary, including on the Greek, Irish and Portuguese bailouts and a number of briefings on the state of the Spanish economy.[13]

Open Europe sends out a daily press summary, compiled by a multilingual research team, covering the key news from around Europe.[14]

Open Europe holds regular seminars and discussions on EU reform. Speakers at Open Europe events have included William Hague, David Lidington, Mark Hoban, Maroš Šefčovič, Alexandr Vondra, John Bruton, Carl Bildt, James Brokenshire, Gisela Stuart, Sir Stephen Wall, Alberto Alesina, Vincent Cable, Miguel Arias Cañete Otmar Issing, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Lord Myners, Elmar Brok, Antonio Sáinz de Vicuña, Lord Trimble and Derk-Jan Eppink.

The organisation conducts polling on EU-related issues, both at a national level and European level, including a two-part Open Europe/ YouGov Deutschland poll on "German Voters Sentiments on Europe" ahead of the German federal election, 2013,[15][16] and an Open Europe/ ComRes poll investigating the UK electorate's relationship with the EU.[17]

Open Europe works with the Fresh Start Project of Conservative MPs researching ideas for EU reform.[18]

In 2013 Open Europe organised public simulated negotiations over reform of the European Union, and the UK's relationship with it, in a so-called "wargame".[19]

EU Reform Conference

On January 15–16, 2014, Open Europe and the Fresh Start Project organised a "Pan-European Conference for EU reform" for delegates from the UK and Europe.[20] The Conference was opened by the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer [21] and marking the first major speech on Europe by a senior UK Conservative Minister since the UK Prime Minister David Cameron's 'Bloomberg' speech in January 2013.[22]

Additional speakers included Maria Damanaki the European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs;[23] Paschal Donohoe, Irish Minister for European Affairs;[24] Rachida Dati, a Member of the European Parliament, the Mayor of the 7th arrondissement of Paris and Deputy President of the French Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) Party;[25] Frits Bolkestein, Former European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services; Peter Norman, Swedish Minister for Financial Markets;[26] and Klaus-Peter Willsch, a German CDU Politician and member of the Bundestag.

Dr Imke Henkel of German weekly Focus labelled the conference" potentially historic" by "leading towards a constructive British Europe policy, which provides the important impetus towards the necessary reforms of the European Community”.[27] Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Iain Martin called it a “a hugely uplifting gathering”, which “would simply not have taken place before the euro crisis almost brought about the collapse of the single currency”.[28]

Work for All Party Parliamentary Group for EU Reform

In the UK, Open Europe acts as the secetariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for EU Reform. Their work has included concluding a series of reports on EU subjects and the UK's relationship with the EU. Subjects include Financial Services,[29] Social and Employment law,[30] Agricultural Policy,[31] Immigration,[32] Trade,[33] the EU budget,[34] Criminal Justice[35] and Regional policy.[36]


Open Europe states that its vision is "of a slimmed-down, outward-looking EU, which: facilitates and encourages free trade, internally and globally; is democratic, transparent and accountable to citizens; doesn't interfere in areas better – or equally well – handled locally or nationally; regulates far less but far better; is flexible enough to let powers flow back from the EU to its member states, and to let countries integrate with each other to different degrees. Open Europe believes that an adaptable EU is the right way to reconcile the historic demand of some member states for more integration and the deep-felt desire of many voters for less."[3]

The organisation is sometimes labelled as "eurosceptic," but it is in favour of the UK remaining a member of a reformed EU.[37]

The think tank has published several studies on the impact of regulation, including a 2010 study analysing more than 2,000 Impact Assessments. It estimated that in 2009, EU regulation introduced since 1998 cost the UK economy £19.3 billion, accounting for 59% of the total cost of regulation in Britain in that year.[38] The study also estimated the cumulative cost of EU regulation since 1998 at £124 billion, 71% of the total cost.[39] A March 2010 blog entry by David Rennie on The Economist's website criticised Open Europe's 2010 study, arguing that the findings were "tendentious" and that comparing a cumulative figure to annual GDP was "an insult to the intelligence."[40]

Open Europe has published a number of studies on regulation of the financial markets. In 2009, the group published impact assessments on the EU’s AIFM Directive on stricter regulation for hedge funds and private equity firms.[41][42][43]

In a 2008 assessment of the EU’s Climate Action and Renewable Energy Package, the group claimed the policy had contradictory elements, pursued carbon reduction a very expensive way, and was insufficiently flexible.[44] It recommended that the EU instead adopted overall targets for cutting carbon emissions, but then allow each member state to meet these targets in whatever way it considered the most cost-effective.[45][46] When the European Commission proposed dropping binding renewable energy targets for Member States in favour of an overall emissions reduction target in 2014, Open Europe wrote that its 2008 recommendation had been vindicated and that "the binding renewables targets have been an expensive failure."[47]

In 2008, research by Open Europe claimed that 96 percent of the text of the Lisbon Treaty is the same as the rejected European Constitution, based on a side-by-side comparison of the two texts.[48]

Open Europe is opposed to the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, saying it wastes money, distributes it inequitably, not enough goes to environmental protection, it de-insentivises modernisation, and represents a major waste of resources that could be spent elsewhere. The group advocated full liberalisation, but conceded in a 2012 report that this was not politically realistic, and so proposed a compromise. [31] They proposed a system of "agri-environmental allowances" which would be allocated according to environmental criteria and administered nationally. After complying with minimum standards, farmers would be free to opt out. EU level funding for rural development should be limited to only the poorest members states. Some agriculture related R&D funding would continue.

Over the years the organisation claims to have exposed numerous cases of EU waste and mismanagement involving EU subsidies, arguing strongly for wholesale reform of the EU’s Budget.[49]


Writing in Osborne can now criticise Brussels with a real chance of being listened to."[50]

In December 2012, Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ran a feature on Open Europe, with its London correspondent writing that that Open Europe is "leaving its mark on the British discussion about Europe like no other." He added that it "dishes it out to all sides. EU critics eagerly seize on calculations of how much Brussels regulations have cost the UK or how much member states could save from reforming the EU's regime of agricultural subsides. However, the same people are left disappointed when Open Europe produces figures and arguments advocating against Greece being forced out of the euro, or when it defends the freedom of movement for European workers which is controversial to many in Britain."[51] In 2012 The Guardian‍‍ '​‍s live blog describing Open Europe as "indispensable",[52] while in the same year Polish daily Rzeczpospolita described Open Europe as "an influential liberal think-tank".[53]

The UK Independence Party and some politicians who want Britain to leave the EU have criticised the think-tank for advocating an "à la carte approach [which] is not on offer".[54]

In March 2010, [9]

In 2008, The Spectator‍‍ '​‍s political editor James Forsyth called Open Europe "the very model of a modern think thank, brilliantly mixing research and campaigning." [55]

The Irish government accused Open Europe of "meddling" in the Irish debate, claiming a poll of Irish voters showing they did not want to be made to vote a second time on the Lisbon Treaty was "biased". Speaking during a debate with Open Europe’s Lorraine Mullally on Irish radio Newstalk, Europe Minister Dick Roche claimed the suggestion that Nicolas Sarkozy was reported to have said there should be a second referendum was "complete nonsense". He denied there had been any discussion on a second referendum at that stage. However, a second referendum was held in the fall of 2009. In January 2014, the Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe was a keynote speaker at Open Europe and Fresh Start Project's Conference for EU Reform.[24]

In 2005, Peter Mandelson attacked the group in an interview in The Guardian. He said that the real agenda of the group was “less integration, less strength embodied in our single market and fewer opportunities to build our economic strength.” He argued that “Those are the people who are most insidious since they maintain a pretence of being open to Europe but actually want to lead Britain away from and out of Europe.”[56] Open Europe, however, has openly stood up for the basic single market, as it defended the basic principle of free movement within the EU, when responding to the confusion about the link between EU law and the strikes at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire in 2009.[57] Since Mandelson attacked Open Europe in 2005, in 2012 he presented it with the "International Think Tank of the Year Award" at the Prospect 2012 Think Tank Awards hosted annually by Prospect magazine. The judges "questioned whether its analysis gave way at times to ideology," but commended the think-tank for its "astute recommendations" on EU reform, concluding that "it has produced steady, perceptive commentary on the eurozone."[58]

See also


  1. ^ a b
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  5. ^ "Open Europe's launch - 20 October 2005"
  6. ^ "Meet the Open Europe team" (Retrieved January 31, 2014)
  7. ^ "Meet the Open Europe team" (Retrieved October 3, 2015)
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External links

  • British Library archived page
  • Open Europe Website
  • blog of Mats Persson, Open Europe's director, hosted by The Daily Telegraph

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