Centre for European Reform

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The Centre for European Reform is a lobby group closely associated with the American Enterprise Institute and the (NATO-funded) Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom. CER is a former member of the Stockholm Network of neoliberal think tanks, the Centre was listed as a member in early 2009 but in May 2010 Catherine Hoye confirmed that they had left the network.[1][2]

14 Great College Street Photo: Tamasin Cave
14 Great College Street Photo: Tamasin Cave

Brexit meetings

In November 2016, after the UK voted to leave the EU, CER met with Oliver Robbins, the Prime Minister's Europe Adviser in the Department for Exiting the European Union for a discussion on the impact of Brexit.[3] Robbins met CER's Charles Grant again in February 2017.

Atlanticist lobby group

The CER lobbies for various Atlanticist[4] positions and works with the lobbying firm APCO, which was set up by cigarette giant Philip Morris to prove - through junk science - that cigarettes are good for you.

APCO lobbies for various US companies that work in Europe. These include Shell, Exxon, CEFIC (chemical industries association), Ford Motor Company, Microsoft, Boeing and Monsanto. Issues have included EU/US trade negotiations, EU chemical policy, transport, defence, corporate governance, emissions legislation and food biotechnology.

Their site also says that they do "grassroots outreach":

While in Washington... led a $50 million a year global information program on genetically modified foods. The campaign integrated different communications tools - from advertising and opinion research to media relations, consumer marketing, online advocacy and grassroots activism - in multiple markets around the world, including North America, Europe and Japan.[5]

APCO have also been doing 'European crisis work for WorldCom.' [6]

Peter Mandelson speaks frequently at their meetings, [7] and they are funded by WPP, the Economist, Pearson, German Marshall Fund of the US and a group of banks and arms companies connected to the directors. Thought of as a 'New Labour think tank', the CER was set up by Nick Butler, now Group Vice President for Policy Development, BP p.l.c., member of the World Economic Forum and Executive of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). Butler, a former right-wing labour MP was a key figure in setting up BAP and remains chair of the CER's advisory board. As a strategic policy adviser to BP (which fund the CER as a conduit), he is a former Labour candidate and friend of Jonathan Powell, Blair's chief of staff. He is part of the Executive of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (who administer BAP in the UK).

Intelligence connections

The CER seem to have both UK and US intelligence connections as part of the UK's role as an agent for the US in the EU. CER's main man, Charles Grant, former Defence Editor of The Economist, writes on UK/US intelligence and works closely with the FO, collaborating with individuals such as Roger Liddle and Mark Leonard (at the Foreign Policy Centre). He was on the official list of approved Labour Party Candidates, leaked to The Independent. [8] [9]

Grant is also on the British Council with Lord Dennis Stevenson and is another of his proteges (he wrote articles on the Blue Arrow affair in which Stevenson was involved, for The Economist). He has also written with Prospect magazine editor, David Goodhart. He attended a 24/11/02 'informal group of Businessmen and politicians' initiated by Lord Weidenfeld which included Peter Mandelson, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Lord Douglas Hurd, Baroness Margaret Jay, Lord Tugendhat and the curious Michael Maclay. [10]

As has been noted in Private Eye 1031, Maclay, worked at LWT under John Birt and Mandelson, a career Foreign Office official he is a special advisor to Carl Bildt. McLay was also an early member of BAP and is involved in Hakluyt: the strategic intelligence firm, many of whose directors were formerly senior figures in MI6. [11] Sir Anthony Hammond, the former Treasury solicitor who conducted the official inquiry into the Hinduja passports affair (and let Mandelson off the hook) has a salaried position as the official legal adviser to Hakluyt.

Demos' Ian Hargreaves is on the CER board with Baroness Elizabeth Smith - the wife of the late Labour leader. She has, since 98, been on the board of Hakluyt who spied on environmental groups for oil companies, including BP. Smith is an advisor for BP Scotland. Hargreaves is on the board of Greenpeace and Hayklut spied on Greenpeace. If you look at the others on the CER board you see BP well represented. Shell fund Demos and their offices are across the road. Demos Trustee, Andrew Mackenzie is their Treasurer and also BP group vice president for chemicals. Hakluyt also spied on Anita Roddick's 'Body Shop' and Roddick is also on the Demos Board.[12] [13]

The Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom was formed in 1994 when the British Atlantic Committee and Peace Through NATO (PTN) joined forces. PTN was the group used by then Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine to undermine CND. The Hakluyt connection (and the Demos connections: Hargreaves, Haskins) with the CER (which is a partner with the Atlantic Council of the American Enterprise Institute) are a slight indication that perhaps there are continuities in Demos with anti-Left operations dating back to Heseltine, Lord Carrington and Brian Crozier's days. The CER's founder Nick Butler brought funding from BP and RTZ to help in BAP's aim to groom the future Labour leadership because: 'The traditional British left-wing remained deeply suspicious of the United States, particularly on foreign policy and security issues. The British American Project (BAP) was made to counter this suspicion and encourage admiration for US-style 'market forces''. [14] [15]

According to Paul Foot: 'Butler has been an ideological pillar of New Labour ever since he wrote a book with Neil Kinnock in 1987 trying to persuade people to vote Labour because the party had changed its attitude to shareholders and had been converted to the case for making money for nothing.' [16]

Advisory board


The advisory board listed in the CER Annual Report 2002 includes:[17]

Other times


Shared Office

CER's office was 29 Tufton Street, Westminister, which they shared with the Tory Reform Group which contains: Michael Heseltine, Kenneth Clarke, Lord Hunt, Lord Hurd, Chris Patten, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Sir Tim Sainsbury and a host of other top Conservatives. The office is also used by the Action Centre for Europe which gathers together: Lord Carrington, Lord Howe, Lord Brittan, Kenneth Clarke, Stephen Dorrell, Chris Patten, Lord Hunt and so on. The Conservative Group for Europe (much the same line-up) are also tucked in there. At number 11, the European Movement's offices are down the road and so are those of the Social Market Foundation.

As of 2007 their address is just round the corner at 14 Great College Street Westminster London SW1P 3RX UK


The Centre is funded by the private sector. Members include: Accenture | Access Industries | APCO Europe | AstraZeneca | BAT | Berwin Leighton Paisner | Boeing Company | BP | British Bankers' Association | BT | Citigroup | Chubb Investment Services | Clifford Chance | Daily Mail and General Trust | Deutsche Bank AG | EADS | EDS | The Economist | Euromoney | German Marshall Fund of the US | GlaxoSmithKline | Goldman Sachs | Group 4 Securicor | JP Morgan | KPMG | Lockheed Martin | Merck | Merrill Lynch Holdings Ltd | Morgan Stanley | Rolls-Royce | Telecom Italia | Tesco | Thales | Royal Bank of Scotland | Time Warner Europe | UBS AG | Unilever | United Parcel Services


  1. Stockholm Network Website Think Tank Details, Accessed 20-January-2009
  2. Catherine Hoye, RE:Stockholm Network, Centre for European Reform, E-mail to Steven Harkins 10-May-2010, 11:43am
  3. Oct-Dec 2016 senior officials meetings data, DexEU website, accessed Jan 2018
  4. Atlanticism is a philosophy of cooperation among Western European and North American nations (specifically the USA and Canada) regarding political, economic, and defense issues.
  5. Apcoworldwide, Apco brochure, Accessed 20-January-2009
  6. Apcoworldwide, Apco brochure, Accessed 20-January-2009
  7. Centre for European Reform, Annual Report 2002, Accessed 19-January-2009
  8. Leaked Labour Candidate List, Charles Grant, Accessed 20-January-2009
  9. Centre European Reform, Charles Grant Biog, Accessed via webarchive 20-January-2009
  10. Dead URL Dead URL
  11. Donald Macintyre, Foreign affairs advisers remain decisive players: Donald Macintyre examines the role of a key group of civil servants, The Independent, 9-September-1994, Accessed 20-January-2009
  12. Maurice Chittenden and Nicholas Rufford, MI6 'Firm' Spied on Green Groups, Commondreams Newscentre, Accessed 20-January-2009
  13. Burkes Scotland, Baroness Smith Profile, Accessed via webarchive 20-January-2009
  14. Andy Beckett, Friends in High Places, The Guardian, 6-November-2004, Accessed 20-January-2009
  15. Dead Hyperlink Dead Hyperlink
  16. Paul Foot, Big Business and Government:Tony Blair’s well oiled machine, News Review, Socialist Review, No.245, October 2000, p.5., Accessed 20-January-2009
  17. Advisory Board members, CER Annual Report 2002, published 2003, accessed 10 May 2010
  18. Qinetiq Website, About Qinetiq, Accessed 20-January-2009
  19. Michael Harrison, BAA flies in Hargreaves to spearhead runways campaign, The Independent, 27-July-2002, Accessed 20-January-2009