The Stockholm Network

The Stockholm Network is a corporate lobbying company and network of European "market-oriented" think tanks. Its clients include Pfizer, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and Schering-Plough Corporation.

It was was founded in September 1997 by young British journalist Helen Disney in collaboration with six institutes:

1. Centre for the New Europe (CNE, Brussels),
2. Edmund Burke Foundation (Netherlands),
3. Timbro (Sweden),
4. Circulos de Empresarios (Spain),
5. Paradigmes (France)
6. Social Market Foundation (Great Britain).

The Stockholm Network describes itself as "Europe's only dedicated service organisation for market-oriented think tanks and thinkers" and employs seven people in its London office. Led by director Helen Disney, the Stockholm Network produces a weekly e-newsletter and a flow of expensive, glossy publications, such as the "State of the Union" report on "Market-oriented reform in the EU" and the newsletter 'Eye on Europe'.

The discourse of the Stockholm Network is far more strategic and media savvy than most radical neoliberal think tanks, whose ideological zeal often prevents them from reaching a larger audience. Layers of mainstream rhetoric conceal the Network's ideological agenda, where virtually every aspect of society is to be left to unregulated markets.
It is only during internal workshops that the undiluted free market fundamentalism of the Stockholm Network is revealed.

This means that the explicit agenda of the Network is not so obvious, and may explain why there appear to be some unlikely members. Another reason may be that the Stockholm Network uses a very flexible definition of "members".

For example, the European Policy Centre (EPC), one of the leading think tanks in Brussels, was listed as a member of the Stockholm Network, but without having given its consent. The same goes for Initiative Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft (INSM), a German think tank advocating neoliberal reforms under the slogan "New Social Market Economy". INSM only agreed to an exchange of links but features as a member in Stockholm Network publications.

Fundraising to win the battle of ideas

A conference organised by the Stockholm Network earlier this year, provided an opportunity to see how think tanks perceive their own role within politics and their plans to increase their corporate funding. It highlighted the increasing confidence of these groups who see an expanding space for their ideas in the current political climate.

In February 2005, around 50 people from across Europe attended the Stockholm Network's "Workshop for European Think Tanks" entitled "Selling Yourself". In an up-market hotel in central Brussels, they heard Tim Evans of the Centre for the New Europe (CNE) explain that "free market conservatism" and "anarcho-capitalism" is a product of huge value to corporations and foundations that want to promote these ideas. In his opening pep talk, Evans called on the assembled think tanks to aim for nothing less than winning the "battle of ideas". The Brussels-based CNE, known for its annual Capitalist Ball (an invitation-only event held in a luxurious venue in central Brussels), plays a key role in the Stockholm Network.

As well as providing a network function, the Stockholm Network is a think tank itself. It regularly organises debates in Brussels, often under the title "the Amigo Society". These debates, held in Hotel Amigo in central Brussels, focus on issues like (the commercialisation of) health care and (the costliness of) social security, public pension systems and other features of the welfare state. The Stockholm Network also co-hosts events in London and other cities all around Europe. Debates in London, often held in association with the Economist magazine, have titles such as "An apology for capitalism?" (referring to corporate social responsibility, which the Stockholm Network finds unnecessary). Speakers and special guests at recent Stockholm Network events included pro-globalisation guru Johan Norberg, Dutch Social Security Minister Hans Hoogervorst and then European Commissioner Bolkestein.

Helen Disney is the private owner and Director of The Stockholm Network as well as Market House International. She has a strong background in think tanks and the media. Formerly an editorial writer for The Times and an editorial writer and commentator for the Daily Express, she continues to write regularly on a range of public policy topics for newspapers, magazines and websites.

Cuttings include the Daily Express and Sunday Express, Public Finance, Public Service Magazine, and The Sprout, a satirical Brussels-based magazine, as well as regular weekly entries for the Centre for the New Europe's health weblog, CNE Health.

She also makes regular appearances on TV and in radio debates including 'Heart of the Matter', 'Kilroy', BBC News, BBC Radio Scotland , Radio 4's Talking Politics and the BBC World Service.

Since 1997, she has been Director of the Stockholm Network, a unique service organisation of over 100 European market-oriented think-tanks. The Network acts as a one stop shop for organisations seeking to work with Europe 's most innovative policy experts and thinkers.

Helen also undertakes consultancy work on public policy issues for corporate clients.

From 1996-2000, she worked at the Social Market Foundation, an independent pro-market think-tank in Westminster , where she was Deputy Director and Editor of The Review, a quarterly journal.

She has edited a number of think-tank publications including The Sex-Change Society by Melanie Phillips, published by the Social Market Foundation, and Europe's Welfare Burden , and Breaking Down the Barriers published by Civitas: The Institute for the Study of Civil Society for the Stockholm Network.

Helen is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, Women in Journalism and the Women Writers Network. She holds a degree in French and Italian from Bristol University and speaks conversational Spanish.

Nicole Gray Conchar is Director of Development at Market House. Her career in public policy and think tank fundraising spans more than ten years. From 1992 to 1998, she was Director of Sponsor Services at the Cato Institute in Washington DC, responsible for raising high dollar contributions from individuals and for executing major donor events around the world. She moved to New York City in 1998 to become Development Director at School Choice Scholarships and, concurrently, Membership Director at the Manhattan Institute. In 2000, she became Director of Development at the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York and served as its interim President.

She took leave of absence from the public policy and think tank world on two occasions to work on Steve Forbes' 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns, helping to raise over one million dollars of funding for each campaign.

Prior to relocating to the United Kingdom in 2003, Nicole was founding Executive Director of the Donald & Paula Smith Family Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to defend free speech and a free society. This is achieved through the critical examination of ideas and the sponsoring of public policy debates and related activities in the New York City area.

Nicole Gray Conchar is Development Director at the International Policy Network, and founder of the Donald & Paula Smith Family Foundation.

Members of the Network
The London-based think-tank Civitas, which also acts as the Network's administrative centre, Timbro a free market think-tank in Stockholm, Paradigmes a pro-market consultancy in Paris and The Centre for the New Europe (CNE), a pan-European think tank based in Brussels. Participants in Stockholm Network events are high-profile politicos and thinkers, including government officials, Ministers, MPs, policy experts, journalists, academics, philanthropists and business leaders.

In Sweden members include:
1. Timbro
2. Ratio Institute
3. Eudoxa
4. Captus


"The Stockholm Network is a cooperative group of European free-market think tanks which aims to create the preconditions for a "reform-minded" and "well-informed" debate on the European welfare state." 2000

On its website the groups states that it "brings together more than 131 market-oriented think tanks from across Europe, giving us the capacity to deliver local messages and locally-tailored global messages across the EU and beyond."

"The Stockholm Network is funded by a wide range of individuals, corporations and foundations. A mixture of for-profit and not-for-profit organisations, some SN supporters are the world's largest global enterprises."

"The Stockholm Network does not have a board. Privately owned by Helen Disney, the organisation is structured to avoid the bureaucracy and factionalism that sometimes comes from more complicated arrangements. Instead, we consult informally with other think tank leaders, patrons and supporters on a regular basis to receive feedback on our work and ideas for future development."

The Network is interested in ideas which stimulate economic growth and help people to help themselves. We promote policies which create the social and economic conditions for a free society. These include:
* Reforming European welfare states and creating a more flexible labour market.
* Creating competition and choice in healthcare, through reform of European health systems and markets.
* Creating a market in which world class education can flourish.
* Emphasising the benefits of globalisation and creating an understanding of free market ideas.

Publicising Think Tank Activities

We asked our members by what means they publicise their think tank activities. The results showed that 47% of our members publicise via blogs, and 23% use RSS Feeds and 7% stream their events live over the Internet.

"2007 our work is kindly supported by many sponsors, both corporate and private":

Amazon EU
Beacon Books
Bertrams Books
BGN Distributie
Blackwell’s Book Service UK
Blackwell’s Business & Law Bookshop
Bookshop J Story Scientia
Burson Marsteller
Civita A/S
Coronet Books Inc
Daunt Books
Dawson Books
DEA S.p.A.
The Economist
Eli Lilly
Elisa Kangaskoski
Erasmus Booksellers
EU Bookshop
EU Observer
European Bookshop Ltd
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Fachbuchhandlung fur Sprachen
FSF Ltd - Public Finance Magazine
The Fund for American Studies
Gardners Books
General Healthcare Group
Hannay Booksellers
Heffers Booksellers
Hill & Knowlton
Holt Jackson Book Co.
Institute of Directors
KLIO Bookshop
Kueper International
LCS Consulting
Lehmann - Mulheim
Marsh Inc
Massman International
McDermott Will & Emery
The Merck Foundation
Merck Sharp and Dohme
Motion Picture Association
Nuffield Hospitals
Patrick Barbour
Pfizer Inc.
Pfizer UK
Precise Public Affairs
Progress & Freedom
Schering Plough AB
Schweitzer Sortiment Wien
Starkmann Ltd
Strassner GmbH
TSO Bookshop
Uitgevrerij Peeters
UST Public Affairs
VeriSign Inc


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