On the occasion of the tenth birthday of leading independent Brussels think-tank the European Policy Centre (EPC), EPC director and founder Stanley Crossick tells EURACTIV that Brussels still has much to learn from the US think-tank landscape.
Stanley Crossick points in particular to a recent ‘Charlemagne’ article in The Economist, which suggested that Brussels badly needs a far more open debate about policy ideas.
“Charlemagne is rightly critical of the relatively passive role of Brussels think-tanks,” Crossick explains. “EU decision-making lacks the underpinning of the type of public policy debate that exists in Washington…political, think-tank and business leaders in Washington interchange within a single “class”, whereas they form three permanently separate groups in Europe.”
According to Crossick, while EPC has remained true to its ‘mission statement’, John Monnet’s axiom ‘Thought cannot be divorced from action’, the influential networking organisation that EPC represents today “was not uppermost in our minds at the outset”.
“Our objective was to promote further European integration generally and influence EU policies specifically, but not on behalf of special interests. EPC has always been an independent think-tank and is not a representative organisation…We recognised the importance of underpinning our public policy advocacy with sound analysis by able in-house professionals.”
As to the future, Crossick wants the potential of think-tanks, academic institutions and all the other constituents of the civil society to be harnessed to reach out to EU citizens. But, he warns: “They have to have financial support. Unfortunately, the current financial regulations do not permit effective funding.”