A History of IEEP

A truly European institute, IEEP has had a presence in several European countries, and is now based in London and Brussels.

Our expertise of European policy 
 making stretches back for more 
 than 30 years.


The original Institute for European Environmental Policy was founded in Bonn, Germany in 1976 by the European Cultural Foundation. From the outset it was understood that the European Community would come to have a pivotal role in shaping and driving forward environmental policy in Europe. If this process was not to be dominated by national governments and the formal European institutions there would need to be robust and well informed independent thinking and active engagement by civil society. The Institute was created to play a role in this new world, with the freedom to pick themes and topics as it chose.

The first director was Konrad von Moltke, a committed internationalist, who believed that an institute based solely in Bonn was only an initial step and that to be truly European it was necessary to have a presence in several European countries. He opened an IEEP office in Paris in 1978 and in London in 1980, with Arnhem (in the Netherlands) following not long after. The Institute established a monthly bulletin initially in French and then also in English called 'The Environment in Europe', distributed mainly to officials, NGOs and both national and European parliamentarians, who were taking a growing interest in this subject. The network of IEEP offices tackled a wide range of research topics and policy questions and was active in the emerging European debate; not least the challenge of framing suitable environmental objectives for the Treaty of Rome.

The Institute in London

For the first two years, the London office was run as a joint venture with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) itself founded by Barbara Ward and in the same premises as the fledgling Earthscan. The founding director was Nigel Haigh who was one of the first to appreciate how far national policies would be moulded by the rapidly expanding portfolio of European legislation. He maintained a strong overview of European policy and was creator and editor of the Manual of European Environmental Policy, the Institute's flagship publication.

The early intent of the London office can be judged from four projects that were planned in the first six months:

  • a comparison of public enquiries in Britain and France
  • a study of the effects of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on wetland drainage in France, Britain, Netherlands and Ireland
  • a critique of a major European freight forecasting study, and
  • an extended essay on the impact of EEC environmental legislation in the UK

As the Institute established a presence in a growing circle of countries the original structure became unwieldy. Separate legal entities sharing the name were established in a total of six countries, with London given the freedom to grow as a freestanding institute from 1990. The Bonn office divided in due course with the then Director Ernst von Weizsäcker, heading the newly established Wuppertal Institute and Andreas Kraemer, founding a new organisation, Ecologic, in Berlin. The friendship between IEEP and Ecologic is still in place and we are partners in several projects today.

The Contemporary Institute

As partners in different countries took their own paths, IEEP in London became the hub and in due course the only member of the original family of institutes, taking on a distinctive European personality in the process. Our interests grew beyond environmental policy to cover agriculture, fisheries, climate and energy, regional development, transport and aspects of international affairs. David Baldock, who had a background in energy and in agriculture policy and had worked closely with Nigel Haigh to build up the Institute from small beginnings, became Director in 1998. He opened the Brussels office, which is an integral part of the Institute in 2001, headed by Patrick ten Brink, a well known environmental economist. A presence was established in Finland in 2008 and the Institute has a growing network of contacts and partners with whom it works closely in a range of European countries.

Key Events

  • 1976

    IEEP Founded

  • 1978

    Paris office opened

  • 1980

    London office opened

  • 1983

    ‘The Environment in Europe’ Bulletin first published

  • 1990

    IEEP London established as a separate legal entity

  • 2001

    Brussels office opened

  • 2010

    IEEP Manual published online