About us

Our mission, values, people and financing

Who we are
Friends of Europe is a leading think tank that connects people, stimulates debate and triggers change to create a more inclusive, sustainable and forward-looking Europe.

Friends of Europe was founded in 1999 by its Chairman Giles Merritt, an influential EU commentator and former Brussels correspondent of the Financial Times. The Co-Founder is Geert Cami, the Managing Director. 

It is an unusual think-tank in that it does not fit the mould of a group of researchers in a closed environment.

Friends of Europe opens its activities to all who are interested in Europe’s future. Our readers and debating partners are from the EU, its institutions and member governments, companies great and small, NGOs, civil society groups, industry associations, the press and academia.

Friends of Europe does not have an agenda other than making a contribution towards a better understanding of the challenges facing Europe, its citizens and the world. The distinguished members of our Board of Trustees share this aspiration, and help to make Friends of Europe what it is: a think-tank for EU debate that spans the spectrum of European political opinion.


Our management team

The running of Friends of Europe’s expanding work programme is handled day-to-day by the team, headed by:

  • Geert Cami, Co-Founder & Managing Director
  • Nathalie Furrer, Director of Programmes & Operations
  • Shada Islam, Director Europe & Geopolitics
  • Dharmendra Kanani, Director of Strategy
  • Adam Nyman, Director of Debating Europe

Mission

Shaping global change as an independent think tank for lively policy reflection and debate, producing concrete recommendations to tackle the evolving challenges of our times.


Vision

We are part of an independent and non-partisan alliance which also comprises Europe’s World, an influential policy journal and Debating Europe, an online citizens’ platform. We foster innovative ideas to craft fresh policies for a rapidly-changing world.


Values

Friends of Europe does not represent any national, religious, political, corporate nor NGO point of view, and will welcome all sides of a debate to defend their points of view. However, Friends of Europe also stands for a basic set of values, and we will therefore not offer speaking slots or partnerships to political parties, governments or corporations that go against the basic values which the EU stands for, and that we as an organisation strongly adhere to. Those values are included in article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union:

“The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

Friends of Europe plays a highly important role as a driving global force for debate and new ideas. Fundraising through partnerships and projects is of vital importance to ensure the strongest possible impact, participation and reach of our activities. By upholding these principles of ethics, transparency and operating guidelines as we secure our funding, we are able to maintain our integrity and reputation as one of Europe’s leading independent think-tanks.


Guiding principles

As an independent and neutral platform, Friends of Europe seeks to uphold Europe’s fundamental values of inclusiveness, solidarity, well-being and the environment, while facing global challenges. Our operational principles for debates and reports include:

  • Broad participation: We seek the widest-possible participation in terms of views, geographical diversity, demographics and kinds of stakeholders including NGOs and businesses, policymakers and thought leaders. Striving to include a cross-section of generations and walks of life. Seeking a confrontation of ideas and convergence of views by combining experience with youthful energy, to produce concrete solutions with the widest-possible support on which stakeholders can act.
  • Forge new solutions: We seek global solutions from our thought-provoking discussions, workshops, publications and online debates. To depart from navel-gazing and reach for blue sky thinking, towards a new Europe which is more innovative, original, interactive, dynamic, and fun. Solutions via thinking from scratch, out of the box, gloves off, in no-holds-barred discussions.
  • Transparency: A policy of openness regarding our organisation and its operations, including partners and participants in our activities and the financing of those activities. (See our separate section on Fundraising Guidelines)

For more information

Download our annual review

Board of Trustees
Etienne Davignon
President of Friends of Europe, Belgian Minister of State and former European Commission Vice-President

Etienne Davignon is one of the few statesmen in Europe who has been actively involved in EU affairs from the beginning, from his early role as Chief of Staff to Paul-Henri Spaak to today. He has held high-level positions in both the public and private sectors, including as Vice-President of the European Commission, President of the Société Générale de Belgique, first President of the International Energy Agency and through various board mandates.

Giles Merritt
Founder & Chairman

Giles Merritt founded Friends of Europe in 1999, and its policy journal Europe’s World in 2005. His career as a journalist spanned 15 years as a Financial Times foreign correspondent, the last five as Brussels Correspondent, and 25 years as a contributor of Op-Ed columns to the International Herald Tribune on European political and economic issues. In 2010 he was named by the Financial Times as one of 30 ‘Eurostars’ who most influence thinking on Europe’s future. His latest book is “Slippery Slope: Europe’s Troubled Future” (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Paul Révay
European Director of the Trilateral Commission

Paul Révay was the experienced European Director of the Trilateral Commission, a non-governmental, non-partisan discussion group which was founded to foster substantive political and economic dialogue across the world. He also works as a consultant on various topics.

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski
Member of the European Parliament, and Polish Minister for European Affairs (1991-1996, 2000-2001)

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski is a Polish diplomat and politician who is currently Member of the European Parliament. He was a Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which he also chaired for two years, and served as Vice President of the European Parliament. Prior to his career in Brussels, Saryusz-Wolski became the first Polish Minister for European when this office was created in 1991.

Marietje Schaake
Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with the United States

Marietje Schaake, a Dutch politician and Member of the European Parliament, serves on the International Trade committee and is the spokesperson for the ALDE Group on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Schaake also serves on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on Human Rights. She is the founder of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Digital Agenda for Europe. She has been called “Europe’s most wired politician” by the Wall Street Journal, “rising Dutch star” by CNN.

Jamie Shea
Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Division at NATO

Jamie Shea has occupied a number of senior positions at NATO across a wide range of areas, including external relations, press and media, and policy planning. As NATO’s Spokesman, he was the face of NATO during the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts. He later worked as the Director of Policy Planning in the private office of former Secretary General Rasmussen during the preparation of NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept. Shea is also a regular lecturer and conference speaker on NATO and European security affairs.

Javier Solana
President of ESADE Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (1999-2009) and Secretary General of NATO (1995-1999)

Javier Solana is president of the ESADEgeo Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics (Barcelona-Madrid). He is also distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution, senior fellow at the Hertie School of Governance (Berlin) and visiting professor at the London School of Economics, where he was awarded an Honorary Degree in 2010. From 1999 to 2009, Dr Solana was High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union. From 1995 to 1999, he was Secretary General of NATO. Prior to that, Dr Solana held several ministerial positions in the Spanish government, including that of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Anna Terrón
Chair of the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility and Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration of the Government of Spain (2010-2011)

Anna Terrón is a politician and currently Chair of the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility. Previously, she was a Member of the European Parliament for over a decade. She also served as the Secretary for the European Union within the Generalitat de Catalunya and as the Catalan Government Delegate to the European Union. Additionally, she held the position of Spanish Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration.

Frans Van Daele
Belgian Minister of State, former Chief of Staff to the King of Belgium and Head of Cabinet to the President of the European Council (2009-2012)

Frans Van Daele is a long-standing diplomat in the Belgian Foreign Service. He served as Chief of Staff to the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and Chief of Staff to His Majesty the King of Belgium. In his diplomatic career, he was Deputy Permanent Representative of the Belgian Mission to the United Nations in New York and Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the European Union in Brussels, amongst others.

Herman Van Rompuy
President of the European Council (2009-2014) and Prime Minister of Belgium (2008-2009)

Herman Van Rompuy is a Belgian and European politician. He began his career in Belgian national politics, becoming Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Budget and was later elected to the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, finally serving as Prime Minister of Belgium. Praised as a consensus-builder, Van Rompuy was chosen unanimously to become the first full-time President of the European Council.

Frank Vandenbroucke
Professor at the University of Amsterdam and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister (1994–1995)

Frank Vandenbroucke is a Belgian politician and professor at the University of Amsterdam. His current research focuses on the impact of the EU on the development of social and employment policy in the EU Member States. Previously, he was Minister for Foreign Affairs and, later on, for Social Security, Health Insurance, Pensions and Employment in the Belgian Government. Furthermore, Vandenbroucke is the Chairman of a High-Level Group convened by Friends of Europe, which produced the report “Unequal Europe – Recommendations for a more caring EU”.

Androulla Vassiliou
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth (2010-2014)

Androulla Vassiliou is a Cypriot politician. Previously, she was the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth and Commissioner for Health. She is also very active in social and cultural fields particularly within the UN and EU. In Cyprus, she was twice elected to the Cyprus House of Representatives and represented the Parliament to the Convention for the Future of Europe as an alternate member.

Team
Transparency Board
Financing

Our revenue

In 2017 Friends of Europe’s total revenue was €3,644,249. This money was contributed through participation fees ("memberships"), institutional and governmental subsidies, and contributions to costs of events, reports or other projects.

Types of revenue

  • Membership guarantees participation at all our debates, hard copies of our reports, and finally, networking opportunities. It goes without saying that Friends of Europe does not represent the interests of its members, most of whom in any case have competing or conflicting interests, and in that respect it is worthwhile stating that Friends of Europe members are paying an annual ‘participation fee’ without any other prerogative or role in the governance of Friends of Europe.
  • Project sponsorship provides associated visibility linked to a specific project (such as a report or debate), and a possible speaking slot or op-ed contribution, with independence and balance of opinion contractually guaranteed by Friends of Europe.
  • Programme/pillar partnership offers visibility and input into our annual work programme for a specific pillar or programme, again with independence and balance of opinion contractually guaranteed by Friends of Europe.

Revenue breakdown

The breakdown per source of funding is as follows:

  • European and international institutions: €473,228 (13%)
  • Diplomatic missions, national, regional and local authorities: €1,764,397 (48%)
  • Corporate sector (companies and trade associations): €558,000 (15%)
  • Private non-corporate (foundations and NGOs): €345,123 (9%)
  • Participation fees ("Membership"): €503,501 (14%)

Membership guarantees participation at all our debates, copies of our reports, and networking opportunities. Friends of Europe does not represent the interests of its members, who pay an annual ‘participation fee’ without any other prerogative or role in the governance of Friends of Europe.

Membership fees are among the lowest in Brussels so as to stimulate as wide and heterogeneous membership as possible. Memberships are not ‘personal’, so any person employed by a member organisation can attend our debates and receive copies of our major reports.

Annual membership fees are as follows:

  • NGOs: €525
  • SMEs, trade associations, chambers of commerce: €998
  • International organisations and diplomatic missions of G20 and European Economic Area (EEA) countries: €998
  • Diplomatic missions of non-G20/EEA countries: €788
  • Regional offices: €788
  • Foundations: €788
  • Corporations: €2,150

VIP members receive visibility in our reports and at our debates, and are invited to roundtable discussions for reduced audiences. Prices range between €1,750 (NGOs) and €6,850 (corporates).


For project-related partnerships, Friends of Europe has opted from the beginning for transparent and open communication. All partners are systematically credited on the website and in our reports.

Project-related partners receive two key advantages: visibility in the communications campaign surrounding a debate or a report, and an opportunity to speak at an event or write for a report/publication.

Friends of Europe offers a platform to people from all backgrounds and opinion, including government and institution leaders, NGOs and lobbyists of all shapes and colours, but the editorial independence and the guaranteed balance of discussions are the exclusive responsibility of Friends of Europe, as contractually enshrined.

We write balanced reports or debate programmes, and bring in voices that disagree with one another. It is only by confronting ideas that Europe will find the best solutions for the challenges of our times.

It should be stressed that the objective of Friends of Europe’s activities is to foster discussion and debate among the EU’s leaders and citizens on the issues that shape their future and to debate and circulate useful ideas for a more forward-looking, inclusive and sustainable Europe, not to push any specific political or business interest.


For the full details of revenues coming from Friends of Europe’s membership/participation fees, click here.

For the full details of other revenues, click here.

For the full details on Friends of Europe’s registration to the Transparency Register please click here.

The Transparency and Independence Board helps define, refine and verify our credentials in terms of financial transparency and independence.

For the latest declaration of the Transparency and Independence Board, click here

Fundraising guidelines

Financing is an essential part of any organisation’s existence, and Friends of Europe relies on it to be able to ensure the broadest possible platform for debate, reflection and analysis. To uphold our mission as an independent think-tank, we adhere to the following basic principles of independence and transparency.

Transparency: Friends of Europe openly credits all partners, and is transparent as to sources of its funding in relation to our various projects. We maintain open and direct visibility for all our partners.

Opposing views: Friends of Europe maintains partnerships with organisations and governments that clearly have opposing views. Offering a speaking slot to partners does not pose a problem in this respect, on condition that other relevant points of view are equally represented.

Editorial Independence: Friends of Europe remains at all times independent in its approach to any given policy issue. This principle is also legally enshrined in any contract with a partner: “Editorial and intellectual independence and the balance of events/reports shall at all times remain exclusive responsibility of Friends of Europe”

    Fundraising objectives

    Inclusiveness: Friends of Europe’s main objective in fundraising is to finance the widest possible participation in high-quality debates and reports, combining the best available research, facts & figures. We aim to bring together all sides of a debate, and a spectrum of opinion that is as wide as possible. This includes conflicting political opinions, corporate as well as civil society and NGO voices, and a variety of specialists and media from throughout the world.

    Communication: Friends of Europe’s activities are backed by our communications powerhouse to seek maximum exposure for its projects and therefore also for its authors, speakers and partners. That communication includes the publication and dissemination of articles and reports on our activities, available to our members and partners, the media and the general public. Adequate funding for this effort is highly important.

    Reach: We aim to engage a wider audience beyond the “establishment” and the “Brussels bubble”, in an effort to inform people and fight political apathy and voter absenteeism. This is why we seek to expand paid partnerships across Europe and the world to extend our reach.

    Independence and Transparency Board

    To ensure the openness and independence of our organisation, Friends of Europe has created a panel of people from various walks of life to consider any potential issues. The board meets at least once a year in Brussels and whenever it is deemed useful.

    The Transparency and Independence Board helps define, refine and verify our credentials in terms of financial transparency and independence.

    For the latest declaration of the Transparency and Independence Board, click here

    As stated above, Friends of Europe welcomes as wide an array of opinions as possible, and we do not shy away from provocative exchanges between different stakeholders. However, we wish to clarify the following restrictions we have imposed on ourselves:

    1. Representatives from extremist parties which advocate racism, violence, or which have values that go against basic European values as delineated above, are not invited to write in our reports, to speak at our debates or to support our activities financially.
    2. In line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a legally binding international treaty that aims to reduce the damaging health and economic impacts of tobacco consumption, Friends of Europe refrains from working with the tobacco industry.
    3. While arms manufacturers can become members of Friends of Europe, a few limitations do apply. Friends of Europe will not offer them a high profile as partners of projects, nor accept partnership money from them. As listed in SIPRI’s most recent annual report on arms producing and military services, we define “arms manufacturers” as any company having more than 50% of its sales coming from arms. (SIPRI = Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)
    4. Non-EU countries are eligible partners in an effort to engage in fruitful discussions that may help in certain cases at sharing best practices, or improving democratic and human rights conditions, as long as our intellectual credibility or that of a project are not endangered.
      Frequently asked questions
      What is Friends of Europe’s Mission and what are Friends of Europe’s objectives?

      Friends of Europe’s mission is to shape global change as an independent and non-partisan think tank, known for lively policy reflection and debate. We are convinced that the evolving challenges of our times, which are increasingly global, can best be tackled by Europeans working closer together in a spirit of partnership and solidarity, while respecting Europe’s adagio “unity in diversity”.

      We want to stimulate fresh thinking about the challenges facing Europe and its citizens in a globalised world. To this end, we bring together opposing views and opinions into common dialogue, always with the aim of challenging old assumptions, provoking genuine debate and often producing concrete policy recommendations.

      While we do not represent any specific political nor corporate viewpoint, Friends of Europe aims to provide readable and credible background information not least to our younger generations on the main challenges facing our continent and its citizens, and to present, juxtapose and debate the main – often competing – solutions proposed by the main actors. We actively engage citizens in diverse policy discussions with our leaders, and we hope to thus modestly contribute to fighting voter absenteeism, political apathy, and extremism.

      Does Friends of Europe have any political, religious, corporate or other affiliations?

      Friends of Europe does not represent any national, religious, political, corporate nor NGO point of view, and will welcome all sides of a debate to defend their points of view.

      Does Friends of Europe advance any interests?

      We do not advance any specific policy or business interest. Friends of Europe does stand for a basic set of values that we as an organisation strongly adhere to. Those values are enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union.

      “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

      Friends of Europe believes in a more integrated Europe that works together in a spirit of partnership and solidarity to tackle today’s challenges for our continent and its citizens. We stimulate debate about diverse policy options on concrete issues and reach out to actively engage a wider audience, not least of younger generations, so as to fight voter apathy, absenteeism and extremism.

      Has Friends of Europe signed up for the EU’s transparency register?

      Yes – from the moment the original 'Register of Interest Representatives' (known as the 'Lobby Register') was modified to become a 'Transparency Register' with a specific heading for think tanks, we signed up immediately (number 99436366768-45).

      Can everybody become involved in Friends of Europe’s work?

      As stated above, Friends of Europe welcomes as wide an array of opinions as possible, and we do not shy away from provocative exchanges between different stakeholders. However, we wish to clarify the following restrictions we have imposed on ourselves:

      a) Representatives from extremist parties which advocate racism, violence, or which have values that go against basic European values as delineated above, are not invited to write in our reports, to speak at our debates or to support our activities financially.

      b) In line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a legally binding international treaty that aims to reduce the damaging health and economic impacts of tobacco consumption, Friends of Europe refrains from working with the tobacco industry.

      c) While arms manufacturers can become members of Friends of Europe, a few limitations do apply. Friends of Europe will not offer them a high profile as partners of projects, nor accept partnership money from them. As listed in SIPRI’s most recent annual report on arms producing and military services , we define “arms manufacturers” as any company having more than 50% of its sales coming from arms. (SIPRI = Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

      d) Third countries are eligible partners in an effort to engage in fruitful discussions that may help in certain cases at sharing best practices, or improving democratic and human rights conditions, as long as our intellectual credibility or that of a project are not endangered.

      Is Friends of Europe a pro-EU propaganda machine?

      Not at all. Indeed, we are probably one of the most critical think tanks in Brussels of the EU institutions.
      Friends of Europe holds the genuine belief that, in a globalised world, states have no choice but to collaborate on many issues. Friends of Europe is an advocate of the European project, believing in a Europe of partnership and solidarity, though our board members, who represent a range of different political affiliations and backgrounds, have different ideas about how best to achieve this.

      We encourage plurality and debate, but we believe that “Europe” needs to find the answers to cross-border problems instead of being seen as the problem. Eurosceptic political parties and individuals are welcome to contribute to our debates and reports.

      Who sets the agenda for Friends of Europe? How is Friends of Europe governed?

      The overall political direction and priorities are decided upon by the Board of Trustees, which meets at least twice a year.

      The operational agenda of debates, reports and other projects falls under the direct responsibility of the Management of Friends of Europe.

      Our Transparency and Independence Board helps define, refine and verify our credentials in terms of financial transparency and independence.

      Who finances Friends of Europe and how (in)dependent is Friends of Europe of its financial backers?

      We rely on a variety of sources and forms of support, including institutional, governmental and corporate support, as well as funding from foundations (see also “Fundraising guidelines”).

      Friends of Europe’s independence is guaranteed by its variety of sources and forms of support (through organisation of membership fees and sponsorships for our activities).
      Members pay an annual “participation fee” without any other prerogative or role in the governance of Friends of Europe.

      The contracts for sponsorships are clear – just as for a cultural or sporting event – that we offer broadly two things: visibility/logo, and a place to take part in the event. Editorial balance remains our exclusive responsibility, as can be testified by attending our events and reading our reports that are all available on this website.

      Speakers never receive a fee at our debates, and our editorial balance and opposing views are guaranteed at all times, not least when representatives of Friends of Europe members or sponsors are speaking at debates.
      Friends of Europe applies its fundraising guidelines and any partnership seen to endanger the intellectual credibility of a project will be refused.

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