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Inspired by institutions such as The Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Adam Smith Institute, Institute of Economic Affairs etc., CEPOS was founded on March 11, 2004 by a number of high-profile representatives of Danish academia, business, media, and the arts, including former Defence Minister, Chamberlain, at Her Majesty’s Court, and Master of the Royal Hunt, Bernt Johan Collet, who became Chairman of the Board.
Other prominent co-founders include former Prime Minister Poul Schlüter, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, university professors Nicolai Juul Foss, Jesper Lau Hansen, Bent Jensen, and Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard. Also included are well-known journalists Bent Blüdnikow and Samuel Rachlin and cultural personalities such as Bent Fabricius-Bjerre and Michael Laudrup. Martin Ågerup was hired in 2005 as the think-tank's CEO.
During the summer of 2004, the new Board managed to bring in the necessary grants and contributions from foundations, corporations, and individual sponsors. At a meeting on October 2, 2004, the founders confirmed their decision to establish the think-tank, CEPOS. The official opening of CEPOS took place on March 10, 2005 at Hotel D'Angleterre.
CEPOS is dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of a free and prosperous society by supporting tax-cuts, limited government, and private enterprise as well as vital cultural and political institutions. The research of CEPOS supports a civil society consisting of free and responsible individuals and fosters policies, institutions and culture that is supportive of a free market economy, the rule of law, and a civil society consisting of free and responsible individuals.
CEPOS is dedicated to furthering personal and economic freedom and the rule of law in Denmark, and is recognized by the Danish state as an official research institution, a title only given to institutions that produce knowledge of equal quality to that of Danish universities. It is a known advocate of school choice, a more open immigration policy, lower taxes and less regulation, and a known opponent of increased public surveillance, anti-terrorism laws that curtail civil liberties and criminalizing victimless crime. CEPOS produces both academic research and policy analyses on a wide range of issues, including education, immigration, legal reform, taxation, regulation and the public sector. It hosts numerous conferences each year and has attracted high-level speakers, including Robert Barro, George Borjas, Nobel Laureate Edward Prescott, Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, Sir Nigel Lawson and many others.
CEPOS has been described as a leading and serious voice in the Danish debate on taxation, regulation, and welfare, as well as on schools, education and integration. It is frequently quoted in the media, with over 5000 media clips amassed over its years in operation, and was described by the Danish business magazine BNY in 2007 as being "in charge of the public debate".
In 2006, CEPOS launched CEPOS University, a free course taught by university professors, industry leaders and former statesmen in the underlying philosophical, sociological and economic ideas behind classical liberalism, and the various theories behind the free market. Admission is highly competitive. The University of Copenhagen, University of Southern Denmark and Copenhagen Business School all consider CEPOS University a merit-awarding class on level with official academic classes.
CEPOS is a five-time winner of the highly prestigious Atlas Economic Research Foundation and John Templeton Foundation awards given to the best think tanks around the world. It was awarded the 2006 Templeton Freedom Award, given an Honorable Mention in the 2007 Templeton Freedom Award Grant and received the 2007 Templeton Freedom Prize for Initiative in Public Relations. It was awarded second place in the 2008 Sir Anthony Fisher International Memorial Award for the best book published by a think tank and won the 2009 Fisher Venture Grant Award.
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- "Berlingske Nyhedsmagasin nr. 26 2007 'CEPOS sidder på den offentlige mening'AERF". bny.dk.
- "Level of Economic Freedom". Free the World. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
- "Atlas Economic Research Foundation press release". http://www.atlasusa.org/V2/main/page.php?page_id=729.