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The European Policies: point of view of the CEPS

Marco INCERTI, Head of Communication and Research Fellow, Centre for European Policy Studies CEPS

Could you please present your organisation and your particularity as a think tank?

CEPS is one of the longest-established European think tanks. It is celebrating this year its 25th Anniversary, and at the beginning of 2008 it was ranked as one of the top ten global think tanks by an independent American survey conducted by Prof. Jim McGann, of the University of Pennsylvania. CEPS also received the EPAD “Think Tank of the Year” Award for 2008, following a vote by 800 public affairs professionals in Brussels. Lire_La_Suite

Could you please present your organisation and your particularity as a think tank?

CEPS is one of the longest-established European think tanks. It is celebrating this year its 25th Anniversary, and at the beginning of 2008 it was ranked as one of the top ten global think tanks by an independent American survey conducted by Prof. Jim McGann, of the University of Pennsylvania. CEPS also received the EPAD “Think Tank of the Year” Award for 2008, following a vote by 800 public affairs professionals in Brussels.

Its two defining characteristics are the priority that it gives to research (as opposed to mere analysis of current affairs and organisation of events), and its independence, which is guaranteed by an articulated financial structure. With regard to research, CEPS has a large in-house staff of over 50, from 20 different nationalities, a majority of them holding a Ph.D. We have then set up and coordinate as many as 8 research networks of institutes and individuals from all over Europe and beyond. Through these assets, we carry out substantial studies on all of the EU policy areas .



As you work on different topics related to the European Union, do you think that the European Funding Programmes are really helpful for reaching the European Goals, notably the European Growth?



European Funds are obviously useful to boost the economic growth of the receiving countries, especially when it comes to projects that are of a transnational nature. However, what is fundamental is the capacity of the recipients (administrations and other bodies) to properly manage these funds, and put them to a good use. In recent years, the EU has started applying a ‘conditionality’ principle to its various funds, using them as incentives to foster best practices as well as economic growth at the member states’ level, and withholding them when there is evidence of mismanagement or incapacity to absorb the monies. These changes, aimed at fine-tuning the funding schemes, are to be welcomed.



EU faces many challenges, for example the Energy one. Do you think that the EU Energy Policy is relevant regarding the current situation?



Energy policy is clearly going to remain at the top of the agenda over the coming years. The EU is the first international organisation to have adopted an Emissions Trading Scheme under the Kyoto Protocol, and our research shows that it could stand to gain significant economic benefits from the scheme. Building on that experience, and in line with the desires of its citizens – expressed in poll after poll, the EU is trying to take a leading role in shaping the post-2012 international climate change regime. Renewable energies are going to play an important part in that. In this respect, new forms of cooperation with the US could develop once the Obama Administration officially takes office. Alongside these developments, the emphasis with regard to the EU Energy policy will continue to be on its foreign policy/geopolitical dimension: it will clearly affect the way the EU interacts with the countries which are part of its Neighourhood Policy and Central Asia Strategy. Most of all, energy will undoubtedly remain one of the key issues in the relationships between the EU and Russia. Against this background, it is not surprising that the European Commission should be planning to split its Energy and Transport Directorate General, to create a standalone Energy DG.



In which extend does an organisation as yours participate in dealing with European issues?



CEPS strives to be at the core of EU policy-making. Our motto is ‘Thinking Ahead for Europe’, and we constantly try to put it into practice by anticipating future trends and their impact on the EU fields of action. All of our numerous publications contain policy recommendations addressed to the decision-makers, indicating them what in our view, and on the basis of our research, would be the best solutions to adopt to bring Europe forward. We discuss these ideas with policy-makers both in private and public meetings in order to increase the possibility that they will be taken on board. Moreover, the large majority of our publications are available for free downloading from our website (most of them are regularly downloaded for thousands of times), which helps bringing our proposals into the public debate. Finally, we have a fruitful cooperation with the most important European media, who regularly call on our experts to comment on current affairs and elucidate complex technical issues. In turn, they contribute to giving wider visibility to our ideas, bringing them closer to the citizens in their respective member states.

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