Friends of Europe

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Friends of Europe is a not-for-profit think tank for European Union policy analysis and debate. It is located at 4 Rue de la Science, Brussels, with its sister think tank, Security & Defence Agenda (SDA).


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 are to foster open discussion and to stimulate new thinking on the issues facing Europe and its citizens.[3]

The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, an agency of the European Union, uses the acronym FoE.[4]

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: competitive Europe, the future of Europe, Global Europe, Greening Europe, International Development and Social Europe.[7]

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 Etienne Davignon, a politician, businessman and former vice-president of the European Commission. Trustees include:[8]

Friends of Europe's Secretary-General is Giles Merritt, a former Brussels correspondent of the Financial Times.[9]


In 2009, Friends of Europe's annual budget was 1,707,116.[3]

The funding source breakdown was as follows:

  • European and international institutions (EU, OECD, IMF, World Bank, etc.): €428,940 (24.0%)
  • Diplomatic missions, national, regional and local authorities: €196,895 (11.7%)
  • Corporate sector (companies and trade associations): €952,840 (56.7%)
  • Private non-corporate (foundations and NGOs): €128,441 (7.6%)

The European Commission contributed the largest sum of money through a mixture of structural support and project-support (the European Commission was the only partner that contributed more than 5% of the annual budget).

Out of all NGOs and think tanks, Friends of Europe received the tenth largest amount of funding from the European Commission in 2010 at €192,000.[5]

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."[10][11] 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. Friends of Europe is now registered.

Europe's World[edit]

Europe's World is an independent policy magazine established on 4 October 2005 by the organization along with 50 leading European think tanks. Published three times yearly in both English and French, 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.[12]

Carl Bildt called it "An ambitious attempt to stimulate the European as well as global debate on European issues".[13]

Europe's World is edited by Friends of Europe's Secretary-General, Giles Merritt.


  1. ^ "European think tanks and the EU" (PDF). Berlaymont paper (2). September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Friends of Europe asbl [1]
  3. ^ a b Friends of Europe website - "About us"
  4. ^ List of applications granted. Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. [2]
  5. ^ a b EU-funded think tanks defend their credibility. Andrew Rettman. EUobserver (29 Jan 2010) [3]
  6. ^ Friends of Europe website
  7. ^ Friends of Europe website - "What we do"
  8. ^ Friends of Europe website - "Trustees"
  9. ^ Friends of Europe website - "Team"
  10. ^ Think-tanks should join EU lobby register, Kallas insists. (27 Apr 2009) [4]
  11. ^ The dodgy side of Brussels think-tanks. Charlemagne. (17 Apr 2009) [5]
  12. ^ About Europe's World
  13. ^ "Bildt Comments: Europe's World". 2005-10-05. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 

External links[edit]