Sunday

16th May 2021

UK and Hungarian thinktanks least transparent in EU

A handful of thinktanks in Britain and Hungary rank among the least transparent in terms of income, according to a new report out Tuesday (17 February) by the Tbilisi-based Transparify.

Researchers evaluated funding disclosure levels of 37 think tanks throughout the EU and found five out of the seven most opaque were based in the UK and Hungary.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Transparify: 'More than a hundred institutions disclose little or no information on who funds them' (Photo: Jessie Hodge)

They rated, using a five star scale, “the extent to which think tanks publicly disclose through their websites where their funding comes from.”

A five star rating means the thinktank lists donors, identifies funding amounts, and sources of projects.

Three of the thinktanks evaluated are based in Brussels: Bruegel (5 stars), International Crisis Group (4 stars), Centre for European Policy Studies (3 stars).

UK and Hungary rankings

The least transparent of the bunch is the UK’s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

Each received a zero star for providing no relevant information. The UK’s LSE IDEAS got a single star.

In Hungary, the worst performers are Political Capital, with a zero, and the Eotvos Karoly Institute, with one.

The best-ranked UK-based thinktank is the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) with four stars.

Hungary’s best performer, the Budapest Institute for Policy Analysis, received two stars.

‘Steepest decline registered worldwide’

Transparify’s survey looked at a total of 169 think tanks in 47 countries. Gains were broadly made in the US when compared to its first report out last year.

But one UK-based thinktank, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), plummeted from five stars to only two.

ODI’s drop is “the steepest decline registered worldwide”, notes the report.

According to ODI’s annual 2013-2014 report, turnover rose from £18.5 million in 2010–2011 to £28 million in 2013–2014.

It notes that more than 20 percent of its funding comes from the private sector, foundations and other non-governmental sources, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PriceWaterhouse Coopers and Coffey International.

Hans Gutbrod, executive director of Transparify, described ODI’s disclosure last year as “exemplary”.

“This year our raters couldn’t find comparable information, we checked again in order to see if we had missed anything,” he told this website.

Gutbrod said they contacted ODI to verify the lack of information but received no response.

“We got in touch with them again, which is slightly unusual because normally we validate once, you can’t actually expect to validate many times over, not least because transparency is not meant to be a goose chase or a treasure hunt,” he said.

ODI, for its part, says it publishes their audited accounts on their website on an annual basis, which they file with their regulators the Charity Commission and Companies House.

"These accounts are also publicly available through the Charity Commission website and contain a significant amount of information on our strategy, activities, financial performance and major donors,” Karl Askew, ODI's finance director, told this website in an email.

Transparify’s own donor gets zero stars

Meanwhile, Transparify has ranked its own US-based donor, Open Society Foundations, as last among the think tanks surveyed in the United States.

Transparify received just under $40,000 from the donor group.

“Open Society is not as transparent as we’d recommend think tanks and organistations to be,” said Gutbrod.

“We think it illustrates the integrity of our approach that our donor doesn’t come out too well,” he added.

Ranking of most transparent European think tanks

The following European think tanks received five stars and are considered ahighly transparent when it comes to donations.

1.Bruegel - Belgium

2.European Centre for Develop & Policy Management - Netherlands

3. Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) - Sweden

4. Center for the Study of Democracy - Bulgaria

5. Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) - Germany

6. Norwegian Institute for International Affairs (NUPI) - Norway

7. Policy Association for an Open Society (PASOS) - International

8. Stockholm Int’nal Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) - Sweden

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

EU condemns Slovenian PM's harassment of journalist

Slovenia's populist prime minister Janez Janša attempted to discredit a Brussels reporter after she published a critical article about the state of media freedoms in the country. The European Commission condemned the PM's language - but refrained from naming him.

News in Brief

  1. No EUobserver newsletter on Friday 14 May
  2. Germany stops Facebook gathering WhatsApp data
  3. Italy rebuts reports of EU deal with Libya
  4. MEPs demand EU states protect women's reproductive rights
  5. At least nine dead in Russia school shooting
  6. Bulgaria interim government appointed until July election
  7. German priests defy pope to bless same-sex couples
  8. New EU public prosecutor faults Slovenia

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU aims at 'zero pollution' in air, water and soil by 2050
  2. French police arrest Luxembourg former top spy
  3. Vaccine drives spur better-than-expected EU economic recovery
  4. Slovenia causing headaches for new EU anti-graft office
  5. 'No place to hide' in Gaza, as fighting escalates
  6. EU chases 90m AstraZeneca vaccines in fresh legal battle
  7. Fidesz MEP oversees FOI appeals on disgraced Fidesz MEP
  8. Belgium outlines summer Covid relaxation plans

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us