The European Policy Centre (EPC) a key Brussels based think tank, has announced that Brigid Laffan will succeed Herman Van Rompuy as its president.
Van Rompuy has decided to step down from his active position as the President of the EPC after serving in that capacity for seven years. However, he will continue to be involved with the EPC, and took on the role of Honorary President beginning on December 1.
Following a long career in Belgian and EU politics, which includes his role as Prime Minister of Belgium and the first permanent President of the European Council, Herman has, says the EPC, “dedicated his time, expertise, and intellectual power to serving as EPC President in 2015.”
The EPC said, “His Presidency has been marked by growth for the EPC, not only in size but, more importantly, in influence and impact, to which he has been a major contributor. It has always been a great pleasure to work with Herman, unerringly helpful, polite, humble, and always willing to go the extra mile for the EPC. Underneath it all, there has been his immense understanding of European politics from which the EPC has benefitted across many policy areas and in the context of the many crises the EU has faced since 2015. His knowledge as a political practitioner at the highest level is irreplaceable, and we are grateful that he has agreed to stay on as Honorary President.”
Reflecting on his time at the EPC, he says: “A few months after the end of my mandate as president of the European Council, Janis and Fabian asked me to become president of the EPC. I immediately saw a win-win in it. I could transfer my ideas and experiences to a wider audience and to insiders. During my tenure in the EU, I kept in touch with think tanks and the EPC in particular. The presidency was neither operational nor ceremonial: an ambiguity that suited me perfectly. It turned out to be seven beautiful years of friendship, intellectual exchange, and loyalty. The highlight was the book we produced together with Jacki Davis as moderator. I felt the time had come to pass on the presidency. Brigid Laffan is more than an excellent choice. I, myself, remain loyal to the EPC as Honorary President.”
Laffan, Emeritus Professor at the European University Institute,has been a voice in the academic debate on numerous issues central to European integration
The EPC added, “Having Brigid as President of the EPC will ensure that we will continue to be at the forefront of the European debate, and we are looking forward to engaging with Brigid in the many projects and discussions we are planning at this crucial time in European history.”
On her new role, she adds: “It is truly an honour to follow Herman as President of the EPC. We worked closely and productively together as co-chairs of the High-Level Advisory Group at the Conference on the Future of Europe. I am therefore delighted that he will continue his association with the EPC as Honorary President. I have always valued the work of the EPC as one of Brussels’ premier think tanks. As Europe enters uncharted and turbulent waters, the work of analysis and debate is needed now more than ever. Think tanks, such as the EPC, are critical brokers of knowledge and incubators of new ideas. I look forward to working closely with colleagues to support evidence-based analysis of the big issues facing Europe.”
David O’Sullivan, Chair of the Governing Board at the EPC says: “Herman Van Rompuy has been a wonderful President at the EPC, and has made an enormous contribution to our work. We will miss him greatly, although we hope to still draw upon his wisdom. Our new President, Bridget Laffan, as well as being the first woman to hold the office, brings with her a lifetime of acclaimed academic work on European affairs, together with a distinctive public voice, which makes her uniquely qualified to assume the role.”
Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Executive of the EPC, reflects: “It has been an honour and a pleasure to work closely with Herman over the last years. Together with Janis, I have particularly enjoyed our many discussions on the current and long-term issues in European integration, from Brexit to the permacrisis, the watershed of Russia’s war of aggression to the future of European integration. I very much hope we will continue to find occasions for such discussions in the future. At the same time, I wholeheartedly welcome Brigid as our new President. I am looking forward to working with her and focusing even more on the long-term and ‘big picture’ thought leadership that Europe needs at this precarious moment in its history.”
Janis A. Emmanouilidis, Director of Studies of the EPC, commented: “Working and constantly exchanging views with Herman over the past seven years has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. His profound understanding of national and European politics and his intellectual clarity and wisdom have been an immense source of inspiration and always provided a clear compass during the many storms that the EU has gone through. In addition, Brigid Laffan’s appointment as the EPC’s new president is a great honour. Given her extensive knowledge of the EU and our years of working together, I am confident that she will be an excellent source of guidance for all of us at the EPC.”