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European think tanks: Time for transnational cooperation

Fabian Zuleeg , Sophie Pornschlegel

Date: 17/11/2022
In recent years, the seismic shifts in the political, economic, and social environment in Europe have created growing challenges for think tanks. Crisis-driven politics and citizens' distrust of decision-makers increasingly affect their work. At the same time, the highly competitive marketplace has made the sector more vulnerable to vested interests, increasing the likelihood of producing poor and unethical policy advice. This could lead to a shift from think tanks’ positive role in democracy to a blurrier role in the policymaking sphere.

This state of affairs, however, is not irreversible. To secure the well-being of the sector and its positive impact on democracy, European think tanks should work more closely together. In this Jubilee Think Piece, Fabian Zuleeg and Sophie Pornschlegel argue that think tanks should invest in a more sustainable cooperation format, for instance, through the establishment of a European Think Tank House (ETTH) and a European Alliance of Independent Think Tanks (EAITT), which would act as the sector’s spokesperson towards decision-makers.

As the EPC prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary, this second Think Piece paves the way to our Jubilee Conference, which will be held in Brussels on Thursday, 1 December 2022. The conference’s theme will focus on the EU’s reckoning with power. As key players in the EU policy sphere, think tanks should acknowledge their power and influence on politics. They contribute to political agenda-setting, present recommendations to decision-makers, and bring new ideas and perspectives to the public sphere. However, to secure their future positive impact, think tanks in Europe should choose and pursue cooperation rather than competition.

Read the full paper here.

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