In the months leading up to United Kingdom's 2016 European Union membership referendum, many "independent" think tanks espoused studies against Brexit.
However, these UK-based, pro EU campaigners and their research remain closely linked to Brussels through financial funding.
The European Commission's tactic of shelling out millions to pro-EU lobby groups, or Euro "sock-puppets," is documented as early as March 2013.
In the Institute of Economic Affairs' publication on "Euro Puppets: The European Commission's Remaking of Civil Society," Christopher Snowdon wrote the idea of initiating a "civil dialogue" with a public weary of Brussels emerged in the mid-1990s. It is regarded as a way of boosting the EU's legitimacy.
Since then, the EU is offering enormous financial support to think tanks such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies (£726,959), Chatham House (£25,000 - £49,999), Euclid Network (€139,999), and close to 40 other organizations in the UK.
Guido Fawkes GuyNews' video on "EU Sock Puppets Revealed," prove these think tanks provide evidence against leaving the EU. Described as "independent," the groups receive substantial sums of money from Brussels. In the video, the Euclid Network is quoted saying "we fully support the European Project."
According to "Sock Puppets: How The Government Lobbies Itself and Why," it creates a "sock puppet" version of civil society, giving the illusion of grassroots support for greater European integration, larger EU budgets and more EU regulation.
There is a clear bias towards centre-left organizations, particularity groups that share the Commission's environmentalist agenda.
The Green 10 represent the largest of Europe's environmental lobby groups, but other like-minded ecological organizations also receive EU funding. From our research, these groups include The Forest Trust (€32,625), North Sea Advisory Council (€300,000), Low Impact Fishers of Europe (€268,696), and dozens of others.
The organization, Friends of the Earth, is quoted as saying "the future wellbeing of people in these islands will be better if we are part of the European Union" in Guido Fawkes GuyNews' video. It's a recipient of €7,499,196 from the Commission.
Many of the pro EU, environment-oriented groups are backed by anti-immigrant donors. A report by Gaia Fawkes indicates American multi-millionaire Fred Stanback, who backs controversial anti-immigrant and population control campaigns, funds green charities in Britain through a charitable foundation. The charity, "Foundation for the Carolinas," allocated funds to the following groups:
- $6,000,000 to Friends of the Earth;
- $3,000,000 to Greenpeace;
- $2,000,000 to the Dogwood Alliance (a US organisation that worked with Friends of the Earth on a major campaign to shut down biomass plants and other related energy businesses in the U.K).
Beyond the general funding of think tanks based on parliamentary membership, funds aren't allocated to right-leaning groups such as New Direction, the Hayek Institute, and European Coalition of Economic Growth. As such, there is no funding for organizations that question the Commission's path towards centralization.
It is to be noted that these funds are derived from money the United Kingdom gives to the EU every single year.
Over the years, the EU is becoming more ambitious by launching programs such as "Europe for Citizens." With a budget of €229 million set through 2014-2020, it "gives citizens the chance to participate in making Europe more united, to develop a European identity, to foster a sense of ownership of the EU, and to enhance tolerance and mutual understanding."
By engaging in lobbying of politicians and the public through sock puppet civil-society groups, the EU is blurring the lines between fact and fiction.
Take a look at the Bruges Group's spreadsheet detailing over 40 organizations in the UK who are currently sponsored by the EU: