One of the major problems that confronts sensible policy making in Brussels is the complete lack of anything even approaching a serious political/intellectual climate.
Basically though there are hundreds of thousands of types based in Brussels to service the policy makers in the Commission, Council and Parliament - not to mention those other sub-institutions, the Committee of the Regions, the Economic and Social Committee and so on, all they ever do is talk to themselves.
Oh there are think tanks, true, but mostly of the funded by the EU to act as an adjunct to the EU. Given that he who pays the piper calls the tune then it is hardly surprising that organisations like, the Friends of Europe, or the Centre for European Policy Research and so on create vast reams of, ‘Well, you know, wouldn’t it be good if the EU controlled even more of our lives”.
Surely, you might ask, there are other, independent think tanks who do not rely on EU largesse.
Well yes, after 8 years in the Euro bubble I know of two and a half. However, essentially they are not up to the job.
Firstly and quite new is the European Enterprise Institute, which is small and generally inactive, though to be fair it is hosting the Nobel prize-winning economist, Edmund Phelps next week, an event I am looking forward to. However in its time of existence it has hardly registered in the policy making community.
Secondly, and more venerably we have the CNE. Now headed up by Stephen Pollard, this organisation is fixated on the pharma sector, due in large part to the historic links with Pfizer. Which is fine as far as it goes but leaves the vast expanses of non pharma elated activities unserviced. Also given the fundamentally illiberal approach of Pfizer’s ‘Some free Europe’ campaign that has this week been taken up by the Commission. I am pretty unhappy about the pharma activities today. Particularly since Pfizer has come to this position due to its new anti smoking drug, which it wants to become the EU standard.
The half is the Stockholm Institute, but as that is London based it cannot be described as a Brussels think tank, despite having regular events at the Amigo Hotel.
The reason I bring all this up? Well as the CNE is the biggest, oldest and best funded it does have a responsibility to take a lead in promoting market friendly ideas. One way that it has succeed in doing this is through the annual Capitalist Ball, which has taken place for the past few years in February, (having been founded by a chum, and Pyjamas media mainstay, Richard Miniter).
So what has happened to the key event on the Brussels pro-market forces, an event that has brought leading figures from around the world to Brussels. It has been postponed until October.
Bizarre, I have been on the mailing list for this event since the first year, and I have yet to be informed of the change.
So can some sensible people with a decent wodge of cash, who realise that the policy makers of Brussels are in desperate need of sensible advice, from an effective think tank.