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 is an unusual think-tank in that we don’t fit the mould of a group of researchers in a closed environment.

We open our 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
John Bruton
Prime Minister of Ireland’s Rainbow Coalition government (1994-1997)
Pat Cox
President of the European Parliament (2002-2004) and former Irish TV journalist
Robert Cox
Senior Advisor to the European Community Humanitarian Office (1993-1998) and former European Commission Representative to Turkey
Daniel Daianu
Member of the Board of the National Bank of Romania and former Finance Minister of Romania
Alexander De Croo
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Digital Agenda and Trustee of Friends of Europe

Alexander takes significant action to maximise the growth potential of Belgium’s digital economy. Most notably, he initiated the establishment of an advisory board called “Digital Minds for Belgium”, made up of the country’s top ICT experts, and launched an ambitious action plan “Digital Belgium”, aimed at positioning the country as one of Europe’s top three digital member states. This digital revolution includes developing 1,000 new start-ups, creating 50,000 new jobs, and achieving an electronic government by 2020.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
President of the Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs, NATO Secretary General (2004-2009)
Mikolaj Dowgielewicz
European Investment Bank Representative to the EU institutions, and former Secretary of State for European Affairs and Economic Policy
Sorin Ducaru
Assistant Secretary General for emerging security challenges at NATO
Tanja Fajon
Member of European Parliament Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo
Monica Frassoni
Co-President of the European Green Party, and Member of the European Parliament (1999-2009)
Team
Alexandra Gerasimcikova
Programme Assistant

Alexandra is Programme Assistant at Friends of Europe focusing on Peace, Security and Defence. She holds a BA in International Relations and European Studies from the Metropolitan University Prague, and an MLitt in Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia Security Studies from the University of St Andrews. Prior to joining Friends of Europe Alexandra did an internship at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has also gained experience at the Forum 2000 Foundation in Prague, and has been a contributing analyst at a London-based risk consultancy. Her interests include insurgency and counter-insurgency, asymmetric warfare, foreign policy analysis, energy security and geopolitics. Alexandra is fluent in English, Czech and Russian, has a good knowledge of Spanish and basic skills in German and French.

José Gonçalves
Multimedia Manager

José is Multimedia Manager with more than 9 years of experience. He has worked with several organizations, political parties and public institutions in Portugal and Belgium. As a professional, José stands for an irreverent yet sustainable and effective communication.

Dr. Kirsty Hughes
Associate Fellow

Dr. Kirsty Hughes is an Associate Fellow at Friends of Europe. She has worked at a number of leading European think tanks and has published extensively on European and international politics including books, reports and as a journalist. She was also a senior political adviser in the European Commission, head of advocacy for Oxfam, and CEO at Index on Censorship.

Natasha Ibbotson
Senior Programme & Partnership Development Manager

As Senior Programme and Partnership Development Manager at Friends of Europe, Natasha is responsible for the implementation of several programmes, as well as relations with members and the development of partnership opportunities. She began her career working for a cultural organisation in Berlin before moving to Brussels to work for a grant-making fund and later an international trade association. She holds Master’s degrees in classical languages from the University of Oxford and European Union law from King’s College London.

Shada Islam
Director Europe & Geopolitics

Shada Islam is responsible for policy oversight of Friends of Europe’s initiatives, activities and publications. She has special responsibility for the Asia Programme and for the Development Policy Forum. Shada is the former Europe correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and has previously worked on Asian issues at the European Policy Centre. She is closely involved with initiatives to promote Asia-Europe exchanges including within the context of ASEM (Asia Europe Meetings). As a journalist, Shada also worked extensively on development questions including relations between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states as well as on world trade, including the Doha Round. Shada continues to write on EU foreign and security policy, EU-Asia relations and trade and development issues for leading Asian, European and international publications.

Patrick Janssens
Member of the Management Board
Dharmendra Kanani
Director of Strategy

Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Dharmendra Kanani was Director of Policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). He was the England Director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. Kanani has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sector and was advisor for numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.

 

Daniel Kopp
Communications Assistant

Daniel is Communications Assistant at Friends of Europe, working primarily on content management, website maintenance and social media. He holds a joint degree MA/MLitt in German and Comparative Literature from the University of Bonn and University of St Andrews. Previously, he had completed his BA in German, Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Philosophy at the University of Bonn and spent a year abroad at the University of Oxford. Prior to joining the team, Daniel has worked, amongst others, for the German news TV channel Phoenix and the NGO Beyond Borders Scotland in Edinburgh. He is fluent in German and English, with a good knowledge of French and basic skills in Persian and Russian.

Sophie Laurent
Senior Accounts & Administration Manager
Elza Lőw
Multimedia Executive

Elza Lőw is the Multimedia Executive at Friends of Europe. In this role she is responsible for preparing layouts of printed materials and visual identities for all Friends of Europe products, as well as creating the online communication materials, including videos and infographics. She started out her career working as a graphic designer in Hungary, most recently within one of Budapest’s leading advertising agencies. She attended the Photography Institution at the University of Kaposvár (Hungary).

Transparency Board
Financing

Our revenue

In 2016 Friends of Europe’s total revenue was €2,774,000. 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: €286,948 (10%)
  • Diplomatic missions, national, regional and local authorities: €798,958 (29%)
  • Corporate sector (companies and trade associations): €878,850 (32%)
  • Private non-corporate (foundations and NGOs): €312,536 (11%)
  • Participation fees ("Membership"): €496,706 (18%)

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: €500
  • SMEs, trade associations, chambers of commerce: €950
  • International organisations and diplomatic missions of G20 and European Economic Area (EEA) countries: €950
  • Diplomatic missions of non-G20/EEA countries: €750
  • Regional offices: €750
  • Foundations: €750
  • Corporations: €2,050

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.

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.

    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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