ECPA's end of an era as Spencer successor sought

BRUSSELS: The well-known former Conservative MEP who has run the European Centre for Public Affairs (ECPA) since its establishment in the mid-1980s is to step down from his executive director role in June next year.

Tom Spencer
Tom Spencer

ECPA – a think-tank and networking organisation primarily aimed at senior public affairs pros – organises regular conferences, mainly in Brussels, and research-based events. Spencer has run ECPA with his wife, Liz, also an expert in EU affairs, since it formally launched in 1987.
In a note to ECPA’s members, Spencer wrote: ‘Liz and I conceived the idea of ECPA in the mid-Eighties and have greatly enjoyed our associations with it. We remain convinced that an independent, neutral, not-for-profit organisation devoted to "recording, analysing and improving the conduct of public affairs" continues to have a place.'
Spencer, who was an MEP from 1979-1984 and then 1989-1999, continued: ‘I intend to concentrate on global public affairs, which fits with my interest in global governance. To that end, the officers of ECPA have asked me to lead a global public affairs working group to explore how we might make a contribution to public affairs professionalism at a global level in the way that we did in the European context in the 1990s.
‘ECPA’s strength is the extraordinary commitment of the members. Their passion to explore the inner-working of PA has been a constant inspiration. It has been a privilege to work with some of the brightest professionals in Europe. Their continued support will power ECPA in its next phase.’
Spencer will also continue as visiting professor of PA at Brunel and Chester universities. Asked about recent ECPA successes, Spencer drew attention to work on the implications of the Lisbon Treaty: “Our recent management board seminar in Brussels showed how a deep understanding of institutional change, combined with the shared experience of practitioners, can yield new insights. This is ‘wikiPA’ at its best. It was a real pleasure that much of our recent debate has drawn on the energy of ECPA 2.0, our recently formed grouping for the next generation of practitioners.”
Recruitment firm Ellwood & Atfield (E&A) is working pro bono to help find Spencer’s successor. E&A director Ben Atfield is leading the search. The aim is to announce the new executive director before ECPA’s annual conference on 2 March.

2nd November 2010 by Ian Hall

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