BEPA – an overview of its history
BEPA’s roots lie in the Commission’s Forward Studies Unit, established in 1989 as a small 'think tank' staffed with EU officials reporting directly to the Commission President at the time, Jacques Delors.
Monitoring and evaluating European integration were the Unit’s primary tasks. Like today’s BEPA experts, its analysts studied long-term prospects and structural tendencies, developed in collaboration with an external network of research institutes specialised in long-term forecasting and planning.
In May 2000, Romano Prodi transformed the Forward Studies Unit into the Group of Policy Advisers (GOPA). The Group remained under the President’s direct authority and secured new resources from within and outside the Commission. He entrusted it with four specific domains: economics, social affairs, foreign affairs, and dialogue with religions and humanisms.
When José Manuel Barroso took up his first mandate as President of the European Commission in 2004, the group of dedicated advisers was maintained. However, GOPA was restructured to meet the needs of the new President more effectively. It was renamed the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA), and was structured around three teams: political, economic and societal.
President Barroso’s second term in office (2010-2014) brought new changes: BEPA's mission and structures were adjusted to better meet future challenges. Its three thematic teams were reorganised into two teams – Outreach and Analysis – dedicated to BEPA’s two core competences, namely dialogue with stakeholders outside the Commission and policy advice.
BEPA’s latest complete restructuring is also reflected in the change of logo. Today a stylised owl, a symbol of wisdom, hope and vigilance throughout the ages and within different cultures, now represents the Bureau's new image.