Stockholm Network

The Stockholm Network was a pan-European think tank and network located in London. In addition to its own policy research, it was an umbrella organisation for market-oriented think tanks in Europe. It had over 130 member organisations.


The organisation was founded in 1997 by Helen Disney in response to the growth in market-oriented think tanks across Europe, with the aim of providing a forum for sharing, exchanging, and developing pan-European public policy research. Interested in ideas which stimulate economic growth and help people to help themselves, it promotes and raises awareness of policies which create the social and economic conditions for a free society. Its stated goals include:

  • Reforming European welfare states and creating a more flexible labour market
  • Updating European pension systems to empower individuals
  • Ensuring more consumer-driven healthcare, through reform of European health systems and markets
  • Encouraging an informed debate on intellectual property rights as an incentive to innovate and develop new knowledge in the future, whilst ensuring wide public access to such products in the present
  • Reforming European energy markets to ensure the most beneficial balance between economic growth and environmental quality.
  • Emphasising the benefits of globalisation, trade, and competition
  • Creating an understanding of free market ideas and institutions


The Stockholm Network was founded in 1997 by Helen Disney, a former journalist and deputy director of the Social Market Foundation. It began with a small group of like-minded think tanks after planning meetings in London and Stockholm. It initially had staff of three people including Sacha Kumaria and Nicole Gray Conchar, who had previously worked as a fundraiser for numerous think tanks including the Cato Institute and the International Policy Network (IPN).

In 2008 four think tanks, out of a membership of over 130, chose to leave the voluntary membership of the Network. They are the Institute of Economic Affairs the International Policy Network, the Hayek Institut and the Venezie Institute. In 2009 The Adam Smith Institute, also left and membership was withdrawn from the Libertarian Alliance and Nurses for Reform.[1] New members include the Ohrid Institute in Macedonia, the Murray Rothbard Institute in Belgium, and Innoval in Germany.

The Stockholm Network has made efforts to be transparent regarding the sources of its funding,[2] and has advocated that other think tanks should also list their funders on their websites. This would make accusations of potential conflicts of interest, or lobbying, which can be impossible to either corroborate or refute (given their often unattributed and/or unverified nature) less likely.

The Stockholm Network acts as a broad church of market-oriented think tanks with a variety of viewpoints—some of whom disagree on policy issues. The Stockholm Network has not attempted to deflect or ignore criticism of its activities, such as the recent debate over its Carbon Scenarios project, but has openly acknowledged it and sees this intellectual debate as an important part of the work of a think tank.[3]


Currently, the Stockholm Network has three programmes: The Health and Welfare Programme, the Intellectual Property and Competition Programme and the Energy and Environment Programme. Each was developed in order to further the objective of the Network in searching for practical market-oriented solutions to the endemic problems Europeans face today.

The Stockholm Network Intellectual Property & Competition Programme was established in January 2005 and aims to achieve four key objectives:

  • First, to make the field of intellectual property more mainstream and accessible to the general public
  • Second, to increase the interaction between specialists focusing on different aspects of intellectual property rights
  • Third, to encourage discussion, as well as debates, on different IP issues
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, to promote European competitiveness

The Stockholm Network Energy and Environment Programme was created in early 2005 in order to promote a practical market-oriented approach to environmental problems. Environmental problems are critical issues for the general public and for policy makers alike. The Stockholm Network work in this programme recognises the importance of environmental policies in safeguarding future prosperity and endeavours to produce practical solutions—solutions that recognise economic realitie— to environmental policy dilemmas.

The Stockholm Network's Health and Welfare Programme was established at the end of 2005. The programme has the following key aims and objectives:

  • To provide a comprehensive resource on European think tank initiatives in health and welfare
  • To promote competition and choice in healthcare, through reform of European health systems and markets
  • To promote more flexible labour markets in Europe
  • To promote market-oriented reform of Europe's failing pensions systems


Some anti-globalisation groups have criticised the SN for receiving corporate funding or being a "corporate-funded campaigning group".[4]

More recently, similar criticisms have also been voiced:

Alex Singleton (Daily Telegraph/Globalisation Institute):[1]

"It [the Stockholm Network] called on the government 'to formulate a cohesive and creative industrial policy to reverse the current trend of decline and international displacement in pharmaceutical manufacturing,' even though free marketeers normally campaign against the whole concept of having industrial policies, believing that decisions about what to invest in should be left to the market."

Johan Norberg (Cato Institute/ex-Timbro):[5]

"Alex Singleton reveals that the free-market group Stockholm Network demands more government funding and subsidised energy prices for the pharmaceutical industry, so that they can cope with the financial crisis. What´s next? Will free-marketeers demand nationalisation of the drug companies in return for preferred shares?"

Stockholm Network Director, Helen Disney, responded as follows:[1]

"The Stockholm Network is not calling, and never would call, for a 'bail out' of the UK pharmaceutical industry. These words are not used anywhere in the paper being cited."

"The report is far from being in favour of state intervention. In fact, the authors argue for reducing corporation tax, simplifying tax rules and reducing legislation and regulation. The reference to industrial policy concerns ideas for making the UK economy more competitive in global markets."


  1. ^ a b c Singleton, Alex (2009-01-19). "Free-market network demands bail-out for pharmaceutical industry". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  2. ^ "Inspiring Growth: The Stockholm Network Annual Report 2007/08" (PDF). Stockholm Network. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  3. ^ "Media Coverage". Stockholm Network. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  4. ^ "Covert industry funding fuels the expansion of radical rightwing EU think tanks". Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  5. ^ Norberg, Johan (2009-01-22). "Do you have something for a sudden headache?". JohanNorberg.Net. Retrieved 2012-04-26.

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