On Tuesday, June 18th, the students of the GT European Union program visited Bruegel, an economic think tank based in the city of Brussels. When the students arrived, they were greeted with refreshments and snacks, which they all enjoyed.

The group was then led into a large briefing room, and spent the next few hours learning from Secretary General Matt Dunn about what Bruegel does and how they are influential in the European Union.

Bruegel is a European think tank established in 2005, and the name Bruegel stands for Brussels European and Global Economic Laboratory. Their mission includes helping to shape European economic policy with a focus on European macroeconomics, global economics and governance, and an emphasis on policy recommendations. Bruegel uses open and fact-based research, analysis, and debate to improve the quality of economic policy while being independent and nondoctrinal. They are inspired by leading US nonpartisan think tanks, but there are many differences between Bruegel and US think tanks such as the Brookings Institute.

For instance, Bruegel is funded by both public and private organizations. Their independent research agenda is set collectively by members and other stakeholders. There are three categories of members: state, corporate, and institutional; their members include 18 EU Member states, 34 international companies, and 14 international institutions. Bruegel is a non-profit organization classified as AISBL under Belgian law. They are non-partisan with a strong emphasis on public transparency and accountability, and they have an inbuilt balance of stakeholder representation that allows them to be non-partisan. For example, no organization can provide funding that is more than 4.5% of Bruegel’s annual budget, ensuring that no one member has significantly more influence over the think tank. The board is half-elected and half-appointed with 3-year mandates.

In terms of Bruegel’s research, they provide an annual report of research activity to members and have an annual collective exercise to set the agenda for the research. They also have bilateral consultations with the members on a draft programme, and board decisions are based on feedback collected on the programme. Execution of the research programme is carried out independently, and all of Bruegel’s outputs have a strategic design. In order to completely commit to transparency, Bruegel is also evaluated every three years by an independent committee, and the evaluations are published to their website.