Friends of Europe

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Friends of Europe is a not-for-profit think tank, that since 1999 has stimulated discussion and new thinking on political, economic, social and environmental issues that confront Europe and the world. It is located at Square de Meeus 5-6, Brussels.


The organisation was established in 1999,[1] and takes the position that it has no declared political or national bias and is independent of EU institutions[2] (although it does receive some funding from them). Its stated goal is to foster open discussion and stimulate new thinking on the issues facing Europe and its citizens.[3]
Rettman assessed FoE as having an "openly pro-integration position" about the European Union.[5]


Friends of Europe's self-declared mission statement is:
"Friends of Europe – Les amis de l'Europe is a leading think-tank that aims to stimulate thinking on key global and European political challenges. Our insightful and timely publications and animated debates provide access to sharp analysis and information. We promote the confrontation of ideas that is vital to policymaking and encourage wider involvement in Europe’s future."[6]
According to FoE, the organisation's activities focus on six thematic areas: Future Europe, Global Europe, Security Europe, Smarter Europe, Greener Europe and Quality Europe.

Board of trustees[edit]

Giles Merritt, Secretary-General of Friends, 2010
Friends of Europe's board of trustees is composed of people who have contributed to the European project. Its President is Étienne Davignon, a Belgian Minister of State and former vice-president of the European Commission. Trustees include:[7]
Friends of Europe's Secretary-General is Giles Merritt, a former Brussels correspondent of the Financial Times.[8]


In 2014, Friends of Europe’s total revenue was €2,516,969. This money was contributed through membership fees, institutional and governmental subsidies, and contributions to costs of events, reports or structural support to their activities.
The breakdown per source of funding is as follows:
  • Corporate sector (companies and trade associations): €711,228 (28,3%)
  • Diplomatic missions, national, regional and local authorities: €658,640 (26,2%)
  • Contributions from members: €547,686 (21,8%)
  • Private non-corporate (foundations and NGOs): €374,809 (14,9%)
  • European and international institutions: €224,606 (8,9%)
Membership guarantees participation at all its debates, hard copies of our reports, the right to suggest topics and finally, networking opportunities. Friends of Europe does not represent the interests of its members who in fact pay an annual “participation fee” without any other prerogative or role in the governance of Friends of Europe.
Membership fees are the lowest in Brussels so as to stimulate as wide and heterogeneous membership as possible. Memberships are not “personal”, so any person employed by a member organisation can attend our debates and receive hard copies of our major reports. NGOs pay €500 per year; SMEs, trade associations, chambers of commerce, international organisations and diplomatic missions of G20 and European Economic Area (EEA) countries pay €950. Diplomatic missions of non-G20/EEA countries, regional offices and foundations pay €750 a year, while corporations pay €2,050.
VIP members receive visibility in its reports and at our debates, and are invited to roundtable discussions for reduced audiences. Prices range between €1,750 (NGOs) and €6,850 (corporates).
For project-related partnerships (debates or reports), Friends of Europe has opted from the beginning for a transparent and open communication. All partners are systematically credited on the website and in our reports. Project-related partners receive two key advantages: visibility in the communications campaign surrounding a debate or a report, and an opportunity to speak out or write in them. Friends of Europe offers a platform to people from all backgrounds and opinion, including NGOs and lobbyists of all shapes and colours, but the editorial independence and the guaranteed balance of discussions are the exclusive responsibility of Friends of Europe, as contractually enshrined.
Friends of Europe itself does not push for or against particular policies and most certainly does not represent any interests. Friends of Europe is solely responsible for the intellectual balance and quality of any project: we write balanced reports or debate programmes, and bring in voices that disagree with one another. It is only by confronting ideas that Europe will find the best solutions for the challenges of our times.
In April 2009 European Commissioner for Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud Siim Kallas publicly criticised Friends of Europe for not registering in the European Commission's "voluntary lobbyists register."[9][10]Kallas maintained that think tanks, such as Friends of Europe, were an important source of visibility of indirect interest representation at the EU level, and that Friends was explicitly marketing visibility for sponsors. Secretary-General Giles Merritt responded that the organisation made its sources of funding public on its website, and was not promoting any particular interests. He suggested the creation of a separate register for think tanks. Since the creation of the "Transparency Register", Friends of Europe is registered.

Europe's World[edit]

Europe's World is an independent policy journal established on 4 October 2005 by the organization along with 50 leading European think tanks. Published three times yearly in English, it is a pan-European publication that offers policymakers and opinion-formers across Europe a platform for presenting ideas and forging consensus on key issues.[11]
Carl Bildt called the journal "An ambitious attempt to stimulate the European as well as global debate on European issues".[12]
Europe's World is edited by Friends of Europe's Secretary-General, Giles Merritt.


External links[edit]