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Christmas message from the EPC's Management Team

General news / NEWS
Fabian Zuleeg , Maral Bedrossian , Ricardo Borges de Castro , Georg Riekeles , Emma Woodford , Elizabeth Kuiper , Janis Emmanouilidis

Date: 21/12/2023
Our focus for 2024 – to do even more to speak truth with power.

We draw to a close another year in an era when think tanks are needed more than ever. Why? Because we are in an incredibly difficult situation. The political economy of European integration and our democratic systems are not working anymore at a time of fundamental transitions and challenges.

At the global level, it was heartening to see that nations can still come together around key issues such as the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework and a commitment to transition away from fossil fuels. However, we are still faced with the permacrisis, not enough commitment to combat climate change, the watershed of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the tragic situation in the Middle East, to name but a few. Each of them by themselves would be a tremendous challenge, but in combination, they require a need to tackle trade-offs, set strategic priorities, and consider what we are, and what we are not, going to do together.

So far, we are not acting strategically or decisively enough. We are still talking about policies in pre-crisis mode, and there are topics we dare not talk about – the taboos at the national and European levels. Whenever we talk about concrete actions, for instance, reforms to EU financing or decision-making, (national) political constraints predominate, which means we are collectively not doing what is needed.

And it will not get easier: We anticipate for years to come that the populists will focus on an unholy trinity of topics: migration will still be high on the agenda, as well as the distributional costs of climate change mitigation. In addition, support for Ukraine will also be under attack by the populists, so we need to consider how we shore up the current consensus of action.

Potentially, the global environment will be even more challenging. For example, what will happen in the US if we have a second Trump presidency? What effect might that have on support for Ukraine? How would that affect the urgent measures needed to mitigate the climate crisis? Why are we not talking about this? Because we are not prepared for that discussion. It is too uncomfortable to face.

It is a stark picture, but it needs to be faced. It should no longer be about how the current challenges and the necessary actions affect us. It is about what we are doing for the next generations. The choices we make now will determine whether their interests and values can still be defended.

This means there is a lot to do for think tanks, as this strategic discussion is not taking place anywhere else. We are extremely proud of the fact that at the EPC, we can have and are having these strategic, transboundary and transversal discussions and, in collaboration with our think tank partners, are strengthening how we speak truth with power.

We would like to thank all the participants who attended our events throughout the year – we held almost 200 events. We would also like to thank the ‘consumers’ of our analysis, recommendations, and advice, our Governing Board, the Strategic Council, and EPC’s Senior Advisers and Academic Fellows. A special thank you to our President Brigid Laffan and our Honorary President Herman Van Rompuy. Also, to express our gratitude to our supporters, strategic partners, foundations and members, who enable us to do what we do, your support is much appreciated.

And, of course, the EPC team, who are the foundation that makes all of this work. We look forward to working on these crucial issues together and doing even more to speak truth with power in 2024. On that note, it only remains for us to wish you all a joyous and restful festive season and a happy new year.

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