You may have learnt already that the Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA) has recently received the news that its application for a 2014-2017 operating grant under the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Commission was not selected. This development has come as a great surprise and disappointment for all involved, since TEPSA is a unique network organisation doing excellent work in promoting knowledge and discussion on EU matters in all member states of the European Union and other interested countries.
TEPSA is unique because it is composed of European Studies Institutes in all the member states of the EU and candidate member states. It also includes a number of associate members that are of pan-European nature. TEPSA organises a variety of activities, joint activities in a broad range of EU policy domains such as the Pre-Presidency Conferences –conferences in the capital of the incoming Presidency of the Council of the EU- and joint projects of all kind. The aim being to stimulate discussion on EU policies, to conduct research on topical subject matters and to stimulate interactions among researchers, policy makers and other interested persons. TEPSA also pays special attention to training young people, future researchers and policy makers. Many young people have benefitted from the TEPSA experience, either by participating in various TEPSA activities such as summer schools, professional skills trainings and seminars. Moreover, cooperation in a bilateral context, between TEPSA member institutes, takes place on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, as a non-profit organization and in view of the multitude of activities, TEPSA cannot function without financial support from external sources. In fact, TEPSA has been able to profit for a long time from a structural support by the European Union. Now, imagine that such a precious network would disappear from the stage. It would be a terrible loss, not only for the member institutes but also, I dare to say, for the member states and, even, for the European Union as such. Indeed, in practice TEPSA really fulfils a crucial role to bring EU cooperation closer to the ordinary citizen and in translating national policy debates to the EU scene.
Therefore there are enough reasons to do our utmost to allow TEPSA to continue its activities. We all must act now, the Board, the Brussels based staff and the partner institutes themselves. The Board has already discussed a variety of options. TEPSA’s member institutes in the capitals will reflect about possibilities to intervene at the political level in their country and to inform relevant partners. Also options are in the making to actively look for alternative financial resources for TEPSA, for example by outsourcing tasks from TEPSA members to the TEPSA office in Brussels. Apart from these ideas the Board would welcome initiatives taken by others aiming to allow TEPSA to continue working.
While trying to obtain the needed support, TEPSA will continue its flagship activities like the TEPSA Pre-Presidency Conferences and its bi-monthly Newsletter (TEPSA’s Pre-Presidency Conference in Riga will take place on 4 and 5 December and the Pre-Presidency Conference in Luxembourg in the first week of June 2015). The situation furthermore allows TEPSA to reflect about its core objectives and added value. In doing so, it is TEPSA’s ambition to open new horizons for its future.