Open Europe

Open Europe

Open Europe is an influential[1][2] eurosceptic think-tank and interest group, founded in London by some UK business people, with offices in London and Brussels.[3] While Open Europe does not advocate British withdrawal from the European Union, it is critical of the process of European integration and has called for "substantial powers to be returned" to member states. However, Open Europe has also defended the EU Single Market and freedom of movement. In response to the strikes in Lincolnshire over foreign workers in 2009, it argued that “free movement has on balance been hugely beneficial for Europe”.[4] Open Europe was set up by some of the people behind the campaign against the UK joining the euro and the European Constitution.




Open Europe holds regular seminars and discussions on EU reform. Recent[when?] speakers at Open Europe events have included William Hague, David Lidington, Mark Hoban, John Bruton, Carl Bildt, Gisela Stuart, Sir Stephen Wall, Alberto Alesina, Vincent Cable, Otmar Issing, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Lord Myners, Elmar Brok, Mark Francois, Lord Trimble, Derk-Jan Eppink,and Professor John Gillingham.[5]

Open Europe regularly publishes original research[6] aimed at promoting new ideas among key EU policy makers, business people and academics.

In 2007, research by Open Europe claimed that 96 percent of the text of the Lisbon Treaty is the same as the rejected European Constitution, based on a side-by-side comparison of the two texts.[7]

The think tank has published several studies on the impact of regulation, including a study which it claims is one of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken of the cost of EU regulation, analysing more than 2,000 Impact Assessments. It estimated that in 2009, EU regulation introduced since 1998 cost the UK economy £19.3 billion, accounting for 59% of the total cost of regulation in Britain in that year.[8] The study also estimated the cumulative cost of EU regulation since 1998 at £124 billion, 71% of the total cost.[9]

Open Europe has published numerous studies on regulation of the financial markets. In 2009, the group published what was widely considered one of the first comprehensive impact assessments on the EU’s AIFM Directive on stricter regulation for hedge funds and private equity firms.[10][11] The study welcomed the Directive’s transparency provisions but argued that the proposal’s organisational requirements and rules on market access were “inconsistent with existing EU law and best market practice”. The Open Europe report also estimated that the hedge fund and private equity industry contribute €9.2 billion (£8.4 billion) in tax revenues to the EU economy every year.[12]

In an assessment of the EU’s Climate Action and Renewable Energy Package, the group claimed that hitting the EU renewables target will cost UK families up to £730 a year.[13] It recommended that the EU instead adopted overall targets for cutting carbon emissions, but then allowed for each member state to meet these targets in whatever way it considered the most cost-effective.[14][15]

The organisation has been an outspoken critic of the EU institutions’ various communication campaigns, claiming that they have a bias towards 'ever closer union'. In 2008, the group published research which claimed that the European Union spent more than 2.4 billion euros in that year on various communication and ‘citizenship’ initiatives[16]

In 2005, Open Europe published a study claiming that trade liberalisation and reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy would boost EU GDP as a whole by over 2 % - roughly equivalent to €200 billion.[17][18][19]

Over the years the organisation claims to have exposed numerous cases of EU waste and mismanagement involving EU subsidies, arguing strongly for wholesale reform of the EU’s Budget.[20][21] In the run-up to the elections for the European Parliament in 2009, it published a transparency ranking of all Members of European Parliament for the period 2004-2009.[22]

The organisation has conducted extensive polling on EU-related issues, both at a national level and a pan-European level, including the first poll[23] on the future of the European Union to be carried out in all 27 EU member states.[24] The poll found that 75% of people in the EU want a referendum on any new treaty which gives more powers to the EU.[25] Another poll (with a loaded question) showed that Irish voters ' they would be less likely to vote for Cowen and his party in an Irish general election if he decided to re-run the referendum',[26] having already rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in June 2008 (nevertheless, a second referendum with an increased turonout approved the Treaty by two to one. Independent opinion polls on either side of the referendum continued to show a negative view of Cowen and his party.) Another Open Europe poll conducted in the summer of 2009 showed 70% of Germans are against bailing out Ireland or Greece.[27]


The Irish government accused Open Europe of “meddling” in the Irish debate, claiming a poll of Irish voters showing they did not want to be made to vote a second time on the Lisbon Treaty was “biased”. Speaking during a debate with Open Europe’s Lorraine Mullally on Irish radio Newstalk, Europe Minister Dick Roche claimed the suggestion that Nicolas Sarkozy was reported to have said there should be a second referendum was “complete nonsense.” He denied there had been any discussion on a second referendum at that stage. However, a second referendum was held in the fall of 2009.

Peter Mandelson attacked the group in an interview in The Guardian. He said that the real agenda of the group was “less integration, less strength embodied in our single market and fewer opportunities to build our economic strength.” He argued that “Those are the people who are most insidious since they maintain a pretence of being open to Europe but actually want to lead Britain away from and out of Europe.”[28] Open Europe, however, has openly stood up for the basic single market, as it defended the basic principle of free movement within the EU, when responding to the confusion about the link between EU law and the strikes at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire in 2009.[29]

Daily Telegraph journalist Shane Richmond criticised an opinion poll carried out by Open Europe “I hate to say this, because I know and like the Open Europe people, but I think the bulk of their poll is not that useful, because the wording of their questions was not neutral enough.”[30]

See also

  • List of UK think tanks


  1. ^ "Fight!Fight!Fight!". The Economist (London). 24 May 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  2. ^ Mardell, Mark (26 June 2007). "a living treaty". BBC (London). Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Open Europe - about us
  4. ^ Persson, Mats (12 February 2009). "Keep European workers moving". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Cahill, Tom (20 September 2009). "Europe Fund Law ‘To Cost $2.8 Billion’ in Year One, Survey Says". Bloomber. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Walsh, Bryan (03 November 2008). "Will Green Progress Be Stalled by the Bad Economy?". Time (New York).,8599,1855081,00.html. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  15. ^
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  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Browne, Anthony (13 March 2007). "EU loophole allows city ‘farmers’ to reap millions in subsidy harvest". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  22. ^ Willis, Andrew (26 May 2009). "UK Labour MEPs to publish receipts". EU Observer (Brussels). Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  23. ^ main findings of the poll. Note that no information is given on sample size or sampling methods.
  24. ^ Poll press release Note that no information is given on sample size or sampling methods.
  25. ^ "EU leaders call for rapid reforms". BBC News (London). 25 March 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  26. ^ New Lisbon vote would be suicide for Cowen - The Observer, Sunday 27 July 2008
  27. ^ "Germans against bailing out Ireland, poll shows". The Irish Times (Dublin). 07 July 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  28. ^ Watt, Nicholas (17 March 2006). "New Labour will die if it is frozen in aspic". The Guardian (London).,,1732653,00.html. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ A strong constitution? : May 2006 : Shane Richmond : Technology : Telegraph Blogs

External links

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