The latest addition to the flourishing landscape of EU think tanks originated in an idea launched by France and Germany during the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Elysée Treaty. In the final declaration for this anniversary, Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac expressed their intention to create a "European Centre for International Economy".
Two years later, the new think tank had secured 5 million euros of financial support from 12 EU member states and 18 corporations and was presenting itself to the Brussels press corps. BRUEGEL (also a reference to the Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the elder) will focus its activities on international economics in three main areas: macroeconomics and international finance; markets and regulation; and trade, migration and development. Former competition commissioner Mario Monti has been appointed as chairman of the board of BRUEGEL and French economist Jean Pisani-Ferry as its director.
BRUEGEL will have a challenge establishing itself in a growing market of EU think tanks. A recent in-depth analysis by Notre Europe of the EU research landscape found 36 EU-specific research organisations already specialising in European policy issues. With strong financial support from member states and business, BRUEGEL will have to prove it can be independent and deliver new 'out-of-the-box' thinking.
According to the Notre Europe report, EU think tanks have not yet "fully found their place in European policy-making: the value they add is not perceived clearly, they are seen as moderately useful, and even sometimes elitist. Overall, they are believed to have a limited impact on policies and public opinion. Some of the more established thinks tanks in Brussels include the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), the European Policy Centre (EPC) and Friends of Europe. In recent times many new think thanks have been set up. A number of these work outside Brussels [several of them being EurActiv content partners or occasional contributors].