Open Europe

Open Europe

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Open Europe is an influential eurosceptic
EuroSceptic is the second album of British singer Jack Lucien. It was released in October 2009.Due to being an album influenced by Europop, it features songs with parts in different languages...

 think-tank and interest group, founded in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 by some UK business people, with offices in London and Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

. While Open Europe does not advocate British withdrawal from the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, it is critical of the process of European integration
European integration
European integration is the process of industrial, political, legal, economic integration of states wholly or partially in Europe...

 and has called for "substantial powers to be returned" to member states
Member State of the European Union
A member state of the European Union is a state that is party to treaties of the European Union and has thereby undertaken the privileges and obligations that EU membership entails. Unlike membership of an international organisation, being an EU member state places a country under binding laws in...

. However, Open Europe has also defended the EU Single Market and freedom of movement
Freedom of movement
Freedom of movement, mobility rights or the right to travel is a human right concept that the constitutions of numerous states respect...

. In response to the strikes in Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

 over foreign workers in 2009, it argued that “free movement has on balance been hugely beneficial for Europe”. Open Europe was set up by some of the people behind the campaign against the UK joining the euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 and the European Constitution.


  • Lord Leach of Fairford is Open Europe's Chairman. Lord Leach has been closely involved with the EU debate in the UK for over a decade. He is the former Chairman of the campaign group Business for Sterling.
  • Derek Scott, Vice Chairman, was an economic advisor to Tony Blair
    Tony Blair
    Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

     from 1997–2003 and is currently a visiting professor at London's Cass Business School.
  • Michael Spencer
    Michael Spencer
    Michael Alan Spencer is a British businessman; the chief executive of ICAP plc, the world's largest interdealer broker...

     is a former member of the board of the Conservative Party
    Conservative Party (UK)
    The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

    . Spencer is also the founder and Chief Executive of ICAP
    ICAP (company)
    ICAP plc is a UK based voice and electronic dealer broker and provider of post trade risk services, the largest in the world carrying out transactions for financial institutions rather than private individuals...

    , the world's largest interdealer broker. He is also currently the owner of spread betting
    Spread betting
    Spread betting is any of various types of wagering on the outcome of an event, where the pay-off is based on the accuracy of the wager, rather than a simple "win or lose" outcome, such as fixed-odds betting or parimutuel betting. A spread is a range of outcomes and the bet is whether the outcome...

     firm City Index and the chairman of stockbroking
    Stock broker
    A stock broker or stockbroker is a regulated professional broker who buys and sells shares and other securities through market makers or Agency Only Firms on behalf of investors...

     firm Numis Securities.
  • Simon Wolfson
    Simon Wolfson
    Simon Wolfson, Baron Wolfson of Aspley Guise is a British businessman and currently chief executive of the clothing retailer Next and a Conservative life peer...

     is Chief Executive of Next
    Next (retailer)
    Next plc is a British retailer marketing clothing, footwear, accessories and home products with its headquarters in Enderby, Leicestershire, England. The company has over 550 stores throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and 50 franchise branches in Europe, Asia and the Middle East...

  • A list of supporters can be found on the website:


Open Europe holds regular seminars and discussions on EU reform. Recent speakers at Open Europe events have included William Hague
William Hague
William Jefferson Hague is the British Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State. He served as Leader of the Conservative Party from June 1997 to September 2001...

, David Lidington
David Lidington
David Roy Lidington PC is a British Conservative Party politician, who has been Member of Parliament for Aylesbury since 1992...

, Mark Hoban
Mark Hoban
Mark Gerard Hoban MP is a British Conservative Party politician and the Member of Parliament for Fareham, and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.-Early life:...

, John Bruton
John Bruton
John Gerard Bruton is an Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 1994 to 1997. A minister under two taoisigh, Liam Cosgrave and Garret FitzGerald, Bruton held a number of the top posts in Irish government, including Minister for Finance , and Minister for Industry, Trade,...

, Carl Bildt
Carl Bildt
, Honorary KCMG is a Swedish politician, diplomat and nobleman. Formerly Prime Minister of Sweden from 1991 to 1994 and leader of the liberal conservative Moderate Party from 1986 to 1999, Bildt has served as Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs since 6 October 2006...

, Gisela Stuart
Gisela Stuart
Gisela Gschaider Stuart is a German born, British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston since 1997.-Early life:...

, Sir Stephen Wall
Stephen Wall
Sir Stephen Wall, GCMG, LVO is a retired British diplomat who served as Britain's ambassador to Portugal and Permanent Representative to the European Union.-Biography:...

, Alberto Alesina
Alberto Alesina
Alberto Francesco Alesina is an Italian political economist. He has published much-cited books and articles in major economics journals.-Background and professional life:...

, Vincent Cable
Vincent Cable
Dr. John Vincent "Vince" Cable is a British Liberal Democrat politician and economist who is currently the Business Secretary in the coalition cabinet of David Cameron. He has been Member of Parliament for Twickenham since 1997....

, Otmar Issing
Otmar Issing
Otmar Issing is a German economist, presintent of the Center for Financial Studies and former member of the board of the Deutsche Bundesbank and of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank . He is advisor for Goldman Sachs...

, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen , informally Poul Nyrup, born 15 June 1943), was Prime Minister of Denmark from 25 January 1993 to 27 November 2001 and is currently President of the Party of European Socialists . He was the leader of the governing Social Democrats from 1992 to 2002...

, Lord Myners, Elmar Brok
Elmar Brok
Elmar Brok is a German Member of the European Parliament and the former Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was elected on the CDU ticket and sits with the European People's Party group...

, Mark Francois
Mark Francois
Mark Gino Francois is a British Conservative Party politician. He is the Member of Parliament for Rayleigh and Wickford.-Early life:...

, Lord Trimble, Derk-Jan Eppink,and Professor John Gillingham.

Open Europe regularly publishes original research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 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.

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. The study also estimated the cumulative cost of EU regulation since 1998 at £124 billion, 71% of the total cost.

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. 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.

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. 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.

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

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.

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. 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.

The organisation has conducted extensive polling on EU-related issues, both at a national level and a pan-European level, including the first poll on the future of the European Union to be carried out in all 27 EU member states. The poll found that 75% of people in the EU want a referendum on any new treaty which gives more powers to the EU. Another poll (with a loaded question) showed that Irish voters ' they would be less likely to vote for Cowen
Brian Cowen
Brian Cowen is a former Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 7 May 2008 to 9 March 2011. He was head of a coalition government led by Fianna Fáil which until 23 January 2011 had the support of the Green Party and independent TDs.Cowen was also leader of Fianna Fáil from 7 May...

 and his party
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 in an Irish general election if he decided to re-run the referendum', 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.


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
Dick Roche
Dick Roche is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He was a Teachta Dála for the Wicklow constituency, and also served in Seanad Éireann from 1992 to 1997.-Early and private life:...

 claimed the suggestion that Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

 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
Peter Mandelson
Peter Benjamin Mandelson, Baron Mandelson, PC is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament for Hartlepool from 1992 to 2004, served in a number of Cabinet positions under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and was a European Commissioner...

 attacked the group in an interview in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

. 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.” 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.

Daily Telegraph journalist Shane Richmond criticised an opinion poll
Opinion poll
An opinion poll, sometimes simply referred to as a poll is a survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence...

 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.”

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