The Slovenia Times

What Europe needs is THINK


Seen as a "bridgehead" to the EU (via investment and production of goods "made in the EU") (Liu 2013; Simurina 2014), a channel to facilitate business contacts, build social networks and diminish the costs of doing business in CEE (Kong 2015), a way to obtain support in the relevant EU institutions and forums (Kaczmarski and Jakóbowski 2015), a "tool for building a positive image of China" in the region (Kaczmarski and Jakóbowski 2015), a means of coordinating China's policy towards CEE (Kong 2015; Kaczmarski and Jakóbowski 2015). The 16+1 Platform indeed raises a number of eyebrows and leaves both politicians and businessmen sleepless at night - both due to the anticipation of their cooperation and the risk they take while dealing with a far too little understood, far-away partner they have not cooperated with in the past.

A number of events, workshops and roundtables have shown that the players in the EU need a strong basis of knowledge and research in order to effectively manage their decision-making, be it governments, businesses or associations. We Build Europe, an international research network has recognised this need and established the 'THINK Initiative', a collaborative, needs-based research project through which various research partners contribute with their analysis, research and policy recommendations.

The THINK Initiative was established to spark and lead the discussion about proactive strategies for the EU and neighbouring regions, and brings to the debate a young, creative and academic perspective in order to develop joint strategies and common responses.




THINK Initiative: conducting high-quality research, building diverse coalitions and proposing cross-sectoral strategies.

The network works toward increasing information exchange and cooperation between European players (Europe and neighboring regions) to address challenges and shape Europe. It addresses the challenges of strategic decision-making in Europe by connecting researchers with governments, companies, social and cultural NGOs, journalists and the public at large, through a series of roundtables, research coalition building, crowdsourcing analysis and an online social network platform.



Ingo Mayr-Knoch presents the THINK Initiative at the policy discussion "Europe at the Crossroads" organised by the Centre for European Perspective at Jable Castle in December 2018. 


Ingo Mayr-Knoch, CEO of the THINK Initiative, explains: "The Initiative revolutionises the way strategies are developed - too often we see how different sectors, various interested parties do not exchange the information they gather, nor do they brainstorm, plan, or THINK together. This can very well be seen in the case of China - we have a number of different parties engaged on the topic, from big corporations to SMEs, from governments to municipalities and local communities, from international organisations to local NGOs. And yet they are unable to put together a coherent strategy. The THINK Initiative serves to exchange information, assess the situation, looks at the challenges and opportunities, and develops more creative strategies."

Over 400 strategy creators are currently involved in the policy recommendations development cycle and the Centre for European Perspective, a government-established foundation from Slovenia with its headquarters at Jable Castle near Ljubljana, is among them, addressing the challenges and opportunities that the 16+1 Platform brings to the CEE region.

The research to date shows that the CEE countries lack both the national and a common foreign policy strategy towards China. At the same time, the EU has barely developed its own comprehensive strategy to address the influence of China in the CEE region, although it recently issued an EU-wide strategy "Connecting Europe with Asia" (EEAS 2018). Research results will be available in January 2019.


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