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European Council on Foreign Relations
European Council on Foreign Relations
Abbreviation ECFR
Organisation Think tank
Formation 2007
Headquarters London
Offices Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Sofia, Warsaw
Director Mark Leonard

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is a pan-European think tank which conducts research and promotes debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values-based foreign policy. It was launched by fifty prominent Europeans in October 2007.

ECFR's founding members include former European prime ministers, parliamentarians, business leaders, public intellectuals, and activists, all committed to increasing the EU's role on the world stage. The initiative is headed by Executive Director Mark Leonard, and has offices in five European capitals - Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, and Sofia.

The organisation is supported by billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, along with Sigrid Rausing, the Spanish foundation FRIDE, the Italian UniCredit Group, and the Bulgarian Communitas Foundation. ECFR is not formally associated with or linked to the American Council on Foreign Relations.

ECFR was named the world's "Best New Think Tank in the last five years" by Foreign Policy magazine in its January/February 2009 edition.[1]


Research and work


Statement of Principles

The European Council on Foreign Relations was established on 2 October 2007, with its fifty founding members all endorsing the following Statement of Principles:

  • When faced by the great powers of today and the rising giants of tomorrow, individual European countries regard the world as beyond their control. But if it speaks with one voice, the European Union can help shape the world order.
  • It is only by acting together that European Union countries can effectively pursue their common interests, from combating climate change to reducing poverty, from defending human rights and averting genocide to stopping the spread of deadly weapons and addressing the causes of violent extremism.
  • The European Union's foreign policy should be backed up with all of Europe's economic, political, cultural and, as a last resort, military power. Our commitment to strong and effective multilateral institutions must be matched by a drive to increase European influence within them.
  • Starting with the European Union's neighbours, the best way to secure peace and prosperity is to honour existing commitments to countries seeking membership and to encourage political reforms with more generous offers of economic opportunity and political cooperation.
  • European transformative power can reach beyond its immediate neighbourhood. The European Union should leverage the world's largest single market and most generous aid budgets to promote the values we believe in, both in other parts of the world and in multilateral institutions

Research strategy

Informed by these principles, ECFR has developed a strategy with three distinctive elements that define its activities:

A pan-European Council: ECFR has brought together a distinguished Council of over one hundred Members - politicians, decision makers, thinkers and business people from the EU's member states and candidate countries - which meets twice a year as a full body. Through geographical and thematic task forces, members provide ECFR staff with advice and feedback on policy ideas and help with ECFR's activities within their own countries. The Council is chaired by Martti Ahtisaari, Joschka Fischer and Mabel van Oranje.

A physical presence in the main EU member states: ECFR, uniquely among European think-tanks, has offices in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris and Sofia. In the future ECFR plans to open offices in Rome, Warsaw and Brussels. Our offices are platforms for research, debate, advocacy and communications.

A distinctive research and policy development process: ECFR has brought together a team of distinguished researchers and practitioners from all over Europe to advance its objectives through innovative projects with a pan-European focus. ECFR's activities include primary research, publication of policy reports, private meetings and public debates, ‘friends of ECFR' gatherings in EU capitals and outreach to strategic media outlets.

This research is organised around four core programs:

  • Institutions, Money and Power explores how the European Union and its member countries increase their global reach, how the EU should pursue its interests and values through trade and aid policies, and the ways in which European civilian and military capabilities can be deployed with greater effectiveness in the world’s conflict zones.
  • Russia and Wider Europe examines how the EU can recast its relationship to its eastern neighbours and a resurgent Russia and explores what can be done to use the prospect of EU membership and economic, military and political cooperation to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law, resolve frozen conflicts and lessen the threat of energy dependence.
  • Asia programme analyses how the EU could pursue more effective strategies in its relations with Asia, engaging China, India and Japan on global issues like energy and climate change, development and human rights, nuclear proliferation and global governance. The programme also publishes as a joint Asia Centre and ECFR project a bi-monthly analytical survey of Chinese news and debate entitled "China Analysis".
  • Democracy, Human Rights and Justice investigates ways in which the EU and its member states can promote the values of democracy, human rights and justice across the spectrum of Europe's engagement with the world. The programme also publishes various case studies on European promotion of democracy and human rights as part of an ECFR-FRIDE joint project.


Policy Papers

Policy Briefs


Board and Council Members

The Council on Foreign Relations meets twice a year to discuss how to advance its objectives through innovative projects with a pan-European focus. The current board of the Council is: Martti Ahtisaari (co-chair), Emma Bonino, Joschka Fischer (co-chair), Timothy Garton Ash, Diego Hidalgo, Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard, Alain Minc, Andrew Puddephatt (representing Sigrid Rausing), Aleksander Smolar, and Mabel van Oranje (co-chair).

The council has over one hundred members, from the following countries:


  • Hannes Androsch, Founder, AIC Androsch International Management Consulting
  • Gerald Knaus, Chairman, European Stability Initiative and Open Society Fellow
  • Albert Rohan, former Secretary General for Foreign Affairs
  • Wolfgang Schüssel, Chairman, Parliamentary Group of the Austrian People's Party and former Chancellor


  • Etienne Davignon, President, Friends of Europe and former Vice President of the European Commission
  • Jean-Luc Dehaene, Member of European Parliament and former Prime Minister;


  • Svetoslav Bojilov, Founder, Communitas Foundation and President of Venture Equity Bulgaria Ltd
  • Ivan Krastev, Chair of Board, Centre for Liberal Strategies
  • Nickolay Mladenov, Defense Minister and former Member of European Parliament
  • Christine Ockrent, CEO, Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France


  • Vesna Pusić, MP, President of the National Committee for Monitoring the EU Accession Negotiations and Professor of Sociology, University of Zagreb

Czech Republic

  • Simon Panek, Chairman, People in Need Foundation
  • Karel Schwarzenberg, former Foreign Minister


  • Asger Aamund, President and CEO, A. J. Aamund A/S and Chairman of Bavarian Nordic A/S
  • Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Chairman, Baltic Development Forum and former Foreign Minister
  • Hans Hækkerup, Chairman, Defence Commission and former Defence Minister; Helle Thorning Schmidt, Leader of the Social Democratic Party


  • Mart Laar, MP and former Prime Minister of Estonia


  • Martti Ahtisaari, Chairman of the Board, Crisis Management Initiative and former President of Finland
  • Jaakko Iloniemi, CEO, UNIFIN and former Executive Director, Crisis Management Initiative
  • Olli Kivinen, Writer and columnist
  • Alexander Stubb, Foreign Minister
  • Erkki Tuomioja, MP and former Foreign Minister


  • Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution and Center on International Cooperation (New York University) and former Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations at the UN
  • Pierre Hassner, Research Director emeritus, CERI (Sciences-PO)
  • Lionel Jospin, former Prime Minister
  • Pascal Lamy, Honorary President, Notre Europe and Director-General of WTO and former EU Commissioner
  • Alain Minc, Head of AM Conseil and former chairman, Le Monde
  • Dominique Moisi, Senior Adviser, IFRI
  • Pierre Moscovici, MP; former Minister for European Affairs
  • Diana Pinto, Historian and author
  • Jean Pisani-Ferry, Director, Bruegel and Professor at Universite Paris-Dauphine
  • Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund and former Finance Minister


  • Roland Berger, Founder and Chairman, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants GmbH
  • Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Member of European Parliament
  • Hans Eichel, MP and former Finance Minister
  • Joschka Fischer, former Foreign Minister and vice-Chancellor
  • Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Minister of Economics and Technology
  • Annette Heuser, Executive Director, Bertelsmann Foundation Washington DC
  • Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference; Global Head of Government Affairs Allianz SE
  • Caio Koch-Weser, Vice Chairman, Deutsche Bank Group and former State Secretary
  • Hildegard Müller, President, BDEW Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft
  • Cem Özdemir, Leader, Bündnis90/Die Grünen (Green Party)
  • Ruprecht Polenz, MP and Chairman of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Michael Stürmer, Chief Correspondent, Die Welt
  • Andre Wilkens, Head of Strategic Communications, UNHCR


  • Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations and Director of European Studies Centre, University of Oxford;
  • Loukas Tsoukalis, Professor, University of Athens and President, ELIAMEP


  • Tibor Dessewffy, President, DEMOS Hungary; István Gyarmati, President and CEO, International Centre for Democratic Transition
  • George Soros, Chairman, Open Society Institute


  • John Bruton, European Commission's Ambassador to the USA and former Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland


  • Giuliano Amato, former Prime Minister and vice President of the European Convention
  • Emma Bonino, Vice President of the Senate and former EU Commissioner
  • Massimo D'Alema, President, Italianieuropei Foundation and former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
  • Marta Dassù, Director General International Activities, Aspen Institute Italia
  • Gianfranco Dell'Alba, Director, Confederation of Italian Industry (Confindustria), Brussels office and former Member of European Parliament
  • Gianfranco Fini, President, Chamber of Deputies and former Foreign Minister
  • Leoluca Orlando, MP and President, Sicilian Renaissance Institute
  • Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, President, Notre Europe and former chairman of IMF and former Minister of Economy and Finance
  • Giuseppe Scognamiglio, Head of Institutional and International Relations, UniCredit


  • Sarmite Elerte, Chairperson, Baltic to Black Sea Alliance (BBSA) and former Editor-in-chief of daily newspaper Diena
  • Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia



  • Ian Buruma, Writer and academic
  • Steven Everts, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General/High Representative for Energy and Foreign Policy
  • Michiel van Hulten, Managing Director, Burson-Masteller Brussels office and former Member of European Parliament
  • Rem Koolhaas, Architect, urbanist, and Professor at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
  • Dick Oosting, Europe Director, International Centre for Transitional Justice
  • Mabel van Oranje, CEO, The Elders
  • Gijs de Vries, Member of the Board, Netherlands Court of Audit and former EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator


  • Marek Belka, Director, European Department, International Monetary Fund and former Prime Minister of Poland
  • Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, President, Bank Pekao SA and former Prime Minister of Poland
  • Helena Luczywo, Deputy Editor-in-chief, Gazeta Wyborcza
  • Andrzej Olechowski, former Foreign Minister
  • Dariusz Rosati, Member of European Parliament and former Foreign Minister
  • Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Chairman of the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and former Foreign Minister
  • Aleksander Smolar, Chairman of the Board, Stefan Batory Foundation


  • Jaime Gama, Speaker of the Parliament; former Foreign Minister
  • Teresa Patrício de Gouveia, Trustee to the Board of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and former Foreign Minister
  • Fernando Andresen Guimarães, Adviser to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso
  • Antonio Vitorino, Lawyer and former EU Commissioner


  • Pavol Demeš, Director, German Marshall Fund of the United States(Bratislava)
  • Miroslav Lajčák, Foreign Minister, former High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia Herzegovina


  • Manuel Castells, Professor, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of Southern California
  • Diego Hidalgo, Co-founder of Spanish newspaper El País and President, FRIDE
  • Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Member of European Parliament and former Minister of Justice
  • Marcelino Oreja Aguirre, Member of the Board, Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas and former EU Commissioner
  • Ana Palacio, Senior Vice President for International Affairs and Marketing, AREVA and former Foreign Minister
  • Narcís Serra, Chair of CIDOB Foundation and former Vice President
  • Carlos Alonso Zaldivar, Ambassador to Brazil


  • Urban Ahlin, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and foreign policy spokesperson for the Social Democratic Party
  • Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister, Sweden
  • Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation
  • Nicola Clase, Associate, Weatherhead Center, Harvard University and former State Secretary
  • Anna Ibrisagic, Member of European Parliament; Daniel Sachs, CEO, Proventus
  • Pierre Schori, Director General, FRIDE, Chair of Olof Palme Memorial Fund and former SRSG to Cote d´Ivoire


United Kingdom

  • Charles Clarke, MP and former Home Secretary
  • Robert Cooper, Director General for External and Politico-Military Affairs, Council of the EU
  • Andrew Duff, Member of European Parliament
  • Brian Eno, Musician and Producer
  • Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies, Oxford University
  • Anthony Giddens, Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics
  • Heather Grabbe, Executive Director, Open Society Institute - Brussels
  • Mary Kaldor, Professor, London School of Economics
  • Glenys Kinnock, Minister for Europe and former Member of European Parliament
  • Mark Leonard, Executive Director, European Council on Foreign Relations
  • Adam Lury, CEO, Menemsha Ltd
  • Chris Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University and co-chair of the International Crisis Group and former EU Commissioner
  • Andrew Puddephatt, Director, Global Partners & Associated Ltd.
  • Sigrid Rausing, Founder, Sigrid Rausing Trust
  • George Robertson, former Secretary General of NATO
  • Sir Stephen Wall, Chairman of the Federal Trust, Vice Chair of Business for New Europe and former advisor to Tony Blair
  • Shirley Williams, Professor Emeritus, Kennedy School of Government and former Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords

See also

External links



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