Blog Post

Bruegel’s commitment to transparency: the think tank as fish tank, not gas tank

Understanding who funds think tanks, and to what end, is an important part of maintaining the reputation our sector has for independence. It is also just as important to know what that funding is intended to achieve.

By: Date: February 19, 2015 Topic: Banking and capital markets

Once again Bruegel has been awarded Five Stars by Transparify for the transparency of its funding (which is available to the public through our website and Annual Report). Since Transparify’s assessment last year, there has been a significant overall improvement in the global think tank sector towards sharing funding sources with the public. We welcome this development, as the level of transparency in our sector affects the reputation of us all.

Understanding who funds think tanks, and to what end, is an important part of maintaining the reputation our sector has for independence. Even think tanks motivated by a particular political stance, doctrine or dogma benefit from transparency and the opportunity to demonstrate sufficient independence from their funders. After all, they also want to be able to present evidence-based policy suggestions and instigate legitimate and productive debate. It is, therefore, appropriate to mention that there is so much more than can and should be done to increase transparency in our sector and thereby demonstrating sufficient independence to take a legitimate role in the policy-making process.

Understanding where funding comes from is a good start, but only a start. It is also just as important to know what that funding is intended to achieve. Being transparent about governance structures and funding arrangements directed at anything other than core funding should also be disclosed to the public. As a voter and a member of the public, I would naturally want to know for what certain funders were paying, should I be at all skeptical of their motivation. If funder or think tank is unwilling to share this information, both should reflect on why – the public certainly will!

Whilst money ‘makes the world go around’ we should also recognise that it’s not the only motivation in life. Being transparent about funding and spending is not sufficient to be convincing in one’s aspiration to be a public good. We must also be transparent about what motivates our researchers: their own political leanings, their nationalities, the other parties they work with and any other relevant motivating factors. It’s no longer enough for think tanks to say “Trust me, I’m smart”. We must allow the public to make the judgment of how trustworthy we are and indeed, how smart! (Bruegel has researchers and managers make annual public declarations of outside interests covering a number of areas, as well as having them agree to a statement of integrity.)

In Bruegel’s approach to transparency, we accompany these declarations with a more sophisticated conversation on independence. When we are transparent about who funds us, for what and to what extent; when we are transparent about what motivates us as a group and individuals, we can begin a conversation about independence that acknowledges we cannot remain in an ivory tower and expect to produce ideas that will work. We should (and do) converse with funders and other stakeholders. We should engage with policy makers, academics, markets and civil society. We can also, in the digital world, more easily enter dialogues with the public. But all that should be done from the exposure of a fish tank, rather than the gas tank, so you, our consumer, can see everything that’s going on.

 


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

Read article
 

Blog Post

The EU needs transparent oil data and enhanced coordination

The EU lacks the coordination structure and transparent data necessary to most effectively navigate an embargo on Russian oil.

By: Agata Łoskot-Strachota, Ben McWilliams and Georg Zachmann Topic: Global economy and trade, Green economy Date: May 16, 2022
Read article
 

Blog Post

Now is not the time to confiscate Russia’s central bank reserves

The idea of confiscating the Bank of Russia’s frozen reserves is attractive to some, but at this stage in the Ukraine conflict confiscation would be counterproductive and likely illegal.

By: Nicolas Véron and Joshua Kirschenbaum Topic: Banking and capital markets, Global economy and trade Date: May 16, 2022
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

May
18
09:30

Adapting to European technology regulation: A conversation with Brad Smith, President of Microsoft

Invitation-only event featuring Brad Smith, President and Vice Chair of Microsoft who will discuss regulating big tech in the context of Europe's digital transformation

Speakers: Maria Demertzis and Brad Smith Topic: Digital economy and innovation Location: Bibliothéque Solvay, Rue Belliard 137A, 1000 Bruxelles
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

May
18
14:30

Is China’s private sector advancing or retreating?

A look into the Chinese private sector.

Speakers: Reinhard Bütikofer, Nicolas Véron and Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global economy and trade Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read about event
 

Upcoming Event

May
19
15:00

Three data realms: Managing the divergence between the EU, the US and China in the digital sphere

Major economies are addressing the challenges brought by digital trade in different ways, resulting in diverging regulatory regimes. How should we view these divergences and best deal with them?

Speakers: Susan Ariel Aaronson, Henry Gao, Esa Kaunistola and Niclas Poitiers Topic: Digital economy and innovation, Global economy and trade Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

May
25
14:30

How can we support and restructure firms hit by the COVID-19 crisis?

What are the vulnerabilities and risks in the enterprise sector and how prepared are countries to handle a large-scale restructuring of businesses?

Speakers: Ceyla Pazarbasioglu and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Macroeconomic policy
Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

[Cancelled] Shifting taxes in order to achieve green goals

[This event is cancelled until further notice] How could shifting the tax burden from labour to pollution and resources help the EU reach its climate goals?

Speakers: Niclas Poitiers and Femke Groothuis Topic: Green economy, Macroeconomic policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 12, 2022
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

May - Jun
31-1
10:30

MICROPROD Final Event

Final conference of the MICROPROD project

Speakers: Carlo Altomonte, Eric Bartelsman, Marta Bisztray, Italo Colantone, Maria Demertzis, Filippo di Mauro, Wolfhard Kaus, Steffen Müller, Gianluca Santoni, Verena Plümpe, Andrea Roventini, Valerie Smeets, Nicola Viegi, Markus Zimmermann and Javier Miranda Topic: Macroeconomic policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Working Paper

Inclusive growth

Is the workforce ready for the jobs of the future? Data-informed skills and training foresight

For many newly emerging jobs, labour-market mismatches prevail as workers and firms are unable to apply precise occupation taxonomies and training lags behind workforce needs. We report on how data can enable useful foresight about skill requirements and training needs, even when that data has not been collected for this express purpose.

By: Fabian Stephany and Rosemary Luckin Topic: Inclusive growth Date: May 11, 2022
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

How are crises changing central bank doctrines?

How is monetary policy evolving in the face of recent crises? With central banks taking on new roles, how accountable are they to democratic institutions?

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, Benoît Coeuré, Pervenche Berès, Hans-Helmut Kotz and Athanasios Orphanides Topic: Macroeconomic policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 11, 2022
Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

Insights for successful enforcement of Europe’s Digital Markets Act

The European Commission will enforce digital competition rules against big tech; internally, it should ensure a dedicated process and teams; externally, it should ensure cooperation with other jurisdictions and coherence with other digital policies.

By: Christophe Carugati and Catarina Martins Topic: Digital economy and innovation Date: May 11, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

The cost of China's dynamic zero-COVID policy

What does zero-COVID mean for both China and the global economy?

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global economy and trade Date: May 11, 2022
Load more posts