EPICENTER

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The EPICENTER, or the European Policy Information Center, was launched in 2014.

It is a collective of eight European think tanks, which provides a "free-market perspective" in European policy debates on topics including public health.[1]

Background

The eight think tanks in the collective, as of January 2018, were:[1]

  • Civismo, Spain
  • Institut Economique Molinari (IEM), France
  • Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in the UK (which received tobacco company funding, see section below)
  • Instituto Bruno Leoni (IBL), Italy
  • Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LMFI) (which received funding from Philip Morris International in 2017 to undertake "research and awareness activities, exploring the scope and drivers of illegal trade in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland.[2]) For more information, go to PMI IMPACT
  • Timbro, Sweden
  • Centre for Political Studies (CEPOS), Denmark
  • Civil Development Forum (FOR Foundation), Poland

Established and Funded by Institute of Economic Affairs

Image 1: EPICENTER Funding Disclosure 2016 Financial Year (source: Lobbyfacts.eu, accessed January 2018)

EPICENTER has been accused of being opaque about the origins of its funding.

Following repeated complaints by European watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory,[3][4] EPICENTER finally declared in January 2018 that it was entirely funded by the IEA (see Image 1).[5][6]

The IEA is a right wing think tank partly-funded by tobacco companies. For more information about its relationship with the tobacco industry, also see:

Key EPICENTER staff work for the IEA:

  • Christina Stewart-Lockhart: Founder and Chief Executive, and Director of Programmes at the IEA.[1]
  • Diego Zuluaga: Director, and Head of Financial Services and Tech Policy at the IEA.[7]
  • Adam Bartha: Events & Outreach Manager, and Programmes Assistant at the IEA.[8]

Criticised EU Tobacco Control Measures

EPICENTER has criticised the EU Tobacco Products Directive for "curbing innovation and variety" in e-cigarettes, and further claiming that the legislation "will prove counterproductive" and "is not backed by substantial evidence".[9]

Innov8 Europe

EPICENTER organises Innov8, an annual conference held in Brussels, which aims to: "focus on a number of different aspects of innovation and will comprise of important discussions on how European policy should move forward." [10]

The October 2016 event included a session on 'Innovation in harm reduction' and speakers included:[11]

The 'Nanny State Index'

In March 2016, EPICENTER launched the so-called 'Nanny State Index', designed by Christopher Snowdon, to show "the worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape".[12] The Nanny State Index appears to be a counter-initiative to the Tobacco Control Ranking Scale, an initiative first launched by the European Cancer Leagues in 2006, which monitors the implementation of tobacco control policies at country-level across Europe.[13]

In 2016 and 2017, EPICENTER presented the updated Nanny State Index at a conference in Brussels. In March 2017, event speakers included:[14]

  • Ben Townsend, Vice President and Head of EU Affairs at Japan Tobacco International (JTI)
  • Members of European Parliament: Daniel Dalton, Gunnar Hökmark
  • Sinclair Davidson
  • Frederik Roeder, Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC)

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant Link

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Epicenter webpage, About Epicenter, undated, accessed January 2018
  2. Philip Morris International, Selected projects: first funding round], 7 September 2017, accessed January 2018
  3. Corporate Europe Observatory, Thinking Allowed, Thinking allowed? How think tanks facilitate corporate lobbying, 5 July 2016, accessed January 2018
  4. Corporate Europe Observatory, EU lobby register still failing to live up to transparency promise, 16 November 2017, accessed January 2018
  5. European Policy Information Center (EPICENTER), Lobbyfacts.eu, undated, accessed January 2018
  6. EU Transparency Register, Registrant: European Policy Information Center, last updated 23 January 2018, accessed January 2018
  7. Institute of Economic Affairs, Diego Zuluaga, undated, accessed January 2018
  8. Institute of Economic Affairs, Adam Bartha, undated, accessed January 2018
  9. D. Zuluaga, Tobacco harm reduction and the new TPD. Wednesday Briefing No. 4, EPICENTER, May 2016, accessed January 2018
  10. Innov8 Europe, About, Innov8 Europe website, undated, accessed January 2018
  11. Innov8 Europe, Schedule, Innov8 Europe website, undated, accessed October 2016
  12. The Nanny State Index, EPICENTER, 2017, accessed January 2018
  13. L. Joossens, M. Raw, The Tobacco Control Scale: a new scale to measure country activity], Tobacco Control, 2006; 15(3): 247-253
  14. The Nanny State Indez 2017: Speakers, undated, accessed January 2018