Elles is the son of Diana Newcombe Elles, Baroness Elles and her husband, Neil Patrick Moncrieff Elles. He served as the MEP for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire from 1984 to 1989 and the MEP for Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire East from 1994 to 1999. He has represented the South East in the European Parliament since 1999. Elles has special responsibility for the Conservative Party for the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
He was educated at Eton College and the University of Edinburgh where he graduated with a BSc in agriculture. He became a European MP after an eight-year career as a civil servant with the European Commission, initially as a Tokyo Round negotiator and latterly as Assistant to the Deputy Director General of Agriculture.
Member of the European Parliament
Elles served six terms in the European Parliament, his principal Committee being the Budgets Committee for the whole 30 year period. He was overall rapporteur on the EU budget for the years 1996 and 2007. He was also a substitute member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Budget Control Committee during this period. He founded the Thames Valley European Forum, now renamed the South East Conservative European Network (SECEN) of which he is currently Chairman.
Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN)
In 1992 he founded the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN). The purpose of TPN is to help build bridges between the EU and US involving business and policy-makers on both sides of the Atlantic, feeding in ideas, for example, to create the new transatlantic agenda (NTA) in 1995 and, more, recently putting forward suggestions to strengthen transatlantic partnership through the completion of the transatlantic market from 2008 onwards. This has now led to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP) under negotiation between the Eau and the U.S. since February 2013. James is currently Chairman of the Network.
European Internet Foundation (EIF)
In 2000, the European Internet Foundation (EIF) was launched by Elles and two other parliamentarians as co-founders. The purpose of the European Internet Foundation is to help encourage European political leadership in the development of active public policies that respond to the political, economic and social challenges of the worldwide digital revolution. The EIF aims to ensure that the European Union remains open to developments in the digital economy and benefits fully from it, through enhanced global competitiveness and social progress. It's most recent contribution to long-term thinking was contained in its document "The Digital World in 2030: what place for Europe?" in which it called for completing the Digital Single Market (March 2014). He remains a member of the EIF Steering Committee.
European Ideas Network (EIN)
In August 2002, Elles founded the European Ideas Network (EIN), an open network think-tank on a European scale for the Centre Right. He stepped down as Chairman of the Network in March 2008.
European Strategy and policy Analysis System (ESPAS)
Elles laid the foundation for creating the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) by tabling two budget amendments in 2010 and 2012. Their purpose was to establish an inter-institutional system looking closely at long-term trends with a view to providing foresight, feeding in principal ideas into strategic policy-making. It is governed by a Steering Group where all EU institutions are represented at Secretary-General or substitute level meeting on a regular basis where Elles is Honorary President.
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