European Council on Foreign Relations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

European Council on Foreign Relations
European Council on Foreign Relations - logo.svg
Abbreviation ECFR
Formation 2007; 11 years ago (2007)
Type Think tank
Headquarters London
Region served
Mark Leonard[1]

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is a pan-European think tank with offices in seven European capitals.[2] Launched in October 2007, it conducts research and aims to promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values based foreign policy.

ECFR was founded by Mark Leonard together with 50 European politicians, business leaders, public intellectuals and activists.[3] ECFR has offices in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Warsaw and Sofia and is led by its Director, Mark Leonard and CEO Alison Wallace. ECFR's Council brings together over 160 influential Europeans from 27 countries.

ECFR was established in 2007 by a council of fifty founding members, chaired by Martti Ahtisaari, Joschka Fischer, and Mabel van Oranje, with initial funding from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Communitas Foundation, Sigrid Rausing, Unicredit and Fride.[4]

National offices[edit]

ECFR has offices in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Warsaw and Sofia, with London serving as headquarter. When ECFR was founded in 2007, the Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris and Sofia offices were opened at the same time. The Rome office was opened in 2010, the Warsaw office in September 2011.

Programmes, publications and events[edit]

The think tank's research is broadly divided into four programmes. These are Asia & China, Wider Europe, European Power and Middle East & North Africa.[5] In addition, ECFR's fellows regularly publish policy papers on subjects that fall outside of these parameters. ECFR staff regularly publishes analysis and commentary in major European newspapers.[6][7][8][9] ECFR also has an ongoing project entitled The Reinvention of Europe. ECFR publishes individual policy reports, briefs, and memos, which are downloadable for free from the ECFR's website. It has three regular publications, the annual European Foreign Policy Scorecard, that started in 2011;[10][11] China Analysis (quarterly) and an annual review of the EU and human rights at the UN. ECFR's national offices hold regular events such as seminars, ginger groups and publication launches. Guest speakers at ECFR London's invitation-only ‘Black Coffee Mornings’ have included Douglas Alexander, Louise Arbour, Joseph Nye, Pauline Neville-Jones, and George Robertson.[12]

Asia & China[edit]

The Asia & China programme explores how the EU could pursue more effective strategies in its relations with China on global issues like energy and climate change; development and human rights; nuclear proliferation and global governance. The programme publishes China Analysis, a quarterly analytical survey of foreign policy news and debate within China, in conjunction with Asia Centre. The programme is directed by François Godement.

Wider Europe[edit]

The Wider Europe programme examines the EU’s relationships with its eastern neighbours, including Russia and Turkey. It examines 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.

Middle East and North Africa[edit]

ECFR's Middle East and North Africa (MENA) programme, headed by Daniel Levy, was founded in 2011 in response to the dramatic regional developments popularly dubbed as the ‘Arab Spring’. The programme’s establishment centred on the understanding that in light of these seismic changes, Europe would need to strategically re-think its relationships with its Middle Eastern neighbours in order to be on “the right side of history”.[13]

The MENA programme asserts that its mission is to contribute to a new set of policies that support the democratic momentum in the region; transform conflict and security debates to de-escalate crises and where possible drive peace-building solutions; reset EU-MENA relations; guide EU member states in their pursuit of the new opportunities while encouraging them to play a more active diplomatic problem-solving role.[13]

To this end the programme produces analysis and policy recommendations in the forms of publications, contributions and op-eds in the international media, blog posts, videos, and podcasts, in addition to convening events and private briefings across Europe and the region.[13] Publications produced by the programme have included: how the EU can play a leading role in supporting pluralism after the North African revolutions;[14] an outline of the regional stances and diplomatic strategies on the conflict in Syria;[15] a power audit of Europe's North African relations;[16] how Europe can help Lebanon to avoid a descent into chaos;[17] the urgency of reform in Jordan;[18] and the need to reset European relations with Algeria.[19]

In summer 2012 the MENA programme set up a project to focus solely on the Israel/Palestine conflict. This sub-project works in a similar way to the MENA programme, and seeks both to generate awareness about the dangers of the current impasse and better understand the conflict’s roots, but principally it aims to explore ways in which to re-think, re-frame and create a stronger basis for progress on Israel-Palestine. Its first publication “Europe and the Vanishing Two State Solution” was released in May 2013, authored by ECFR’s Senior Policy Fellow Nick Witney.[20]

The European Foreign Policy Scorecard[edit]

Every year, ECFR publishes a European Foreign Policy Scorecard which assesses European foreign policy performance. The first Scorecard was published in 2011. The Scorecard grades Europe's ability to project its influence abroad across 80 policy issues, grouped into six chapters – relations with China, relations with the US, relations with Russia, relations with Wider Europe, multilateral issues and crisis management. The Scorecard is published as a hard copy report and online.

ECFR's Council and Board[edit]

ECFR's Council currently has over 170 members,[21] each serving a renewable three-year term. The membership includes former prime ministers, presidents, European commissioners, current and former parliamentarians and ministers, public intellectuals, business leaders, activists and cultural figures from the EU member states and candidate countries.[22] The Council meets once a year as a full body to discuss how to advance its objectives. In addition, groups of council members form various geographical and thematic task forces, which provide ECFR staff with advice and feedback on policy ideas and assist with ECFR's activities within their own countries. The council is currently chaired by Carl Bildt (co-chair), Emma Bonino (co-chair), Mabel van Oranje (co-chair), and Martti Ahtisaari (chairman emeritus). The other members of the board are Timothy Garton Ash, Lykke Friis, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Ivan Krastev, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Ana Palacio, Andrew Puddephatt, Norbert Röttgen, Aleksander Smolar, and Javier Solana.


ECFR is a private not-for-profit organisation that relies on donations.[23] It was established with the support of Open Society Foundations, Communitas Foundation and Fundación Para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE). Its partners and funders are foundations, corporations, governments and individuals.


ECFR regularly publishes comment and analysis pieces on foreign policy issues on its website. The site also houses a blog, ‘Whose World Order?’, on which ECFR staff and experts write about the organisation's work, international affairs and Europe's place in the world. ECFR also publishes podcasts in English and occasional podcasts in French, German, Italian and Spanish.[24] ECFR's Madrid office has its own Spanish-language blog. ECFR has a Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Awards and recognition[edit]

ECFR was named "Best New Think Tank in the World" for 2009 and 2010 by the University of Pennsylvania's annual Global "Go-To Think-Tanks" report.[25][26]

ECFR has received Prospect Magazine's "Think Tank of the Year Awards" in 2015 (EU international affairs Think Tank of the Year),[27] 2014 (UK International Affairs Think Tank of the Year),[28] and 2010 (British-based think tank dealing with non-British affairs Think Tank of the Year).[29]

In 2011, the academic responsible for compiling the University of Pennsylvania rankings, Dr James G. McGann, wrote in a book on global think tanks: “The fact that ECFR attempts to pursue policy advice and research through a pan-European focus means that it is free from the national restrictions of operating with one particular state framework in mind. In this sense, it is able to prescribe solutions and recommendations that benefit Europe as a whole and perhaps to a much greater extent than if they had done so with only, for example, the interests of Germany or France in mind. A framework that incorporates all the various workings and desires of each of the affected actors is far more likely to be successful from a long-term standpoint than one that attempts to resolve a regional or global issue by pushing for a solution that only benefits or alleviates the concerns of an individual state.”[30]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Erlanger, Steven, "For Europe, There’s a New Threat in Town: The U.S.", New York Times, February 2, 2017. Retrieved 2017-02-02.
  2. ^ ECFR About
  3. ^ FT (subscription)
  4. ^ "About ECFR | European Council on Foreign Relations". 2015-02-06. Retrieved 2017-10-31. 
  5. ^ "ECFR Programmes page". Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Buras, Piotr. "Das wäre Europas Kapitulation" [That Would be Europe's Capitulation]. Zeit Online (in German). Die Zeit. 
  7. ^ "Europa hat Griechenland geopfert" [Europe has Sacrificed Greece]. Die Zeit (in German). 3 February 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "¿Hay demasiados inmigrantes en tu país?". 
  9. ^ "An uneasy peace that will tear the global economy asunder". 
  10. ^ "Brookings' web page". Archived from the original on 31 May 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  11. ^ "La UE fracasa en su relación con Turquía" [The UE fails in its relationship with Turkey]. El País (in Spanish). 5 April 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "ECFR News page". 
  13. ^ a b c "About the Middle East and North Africa Programme",
  14. ^ Dworkin, Anthony, "The struggle for pluralism after the North African revolutions", 27 March, 2013.
  15. ^ "Syria",
  16. ^ Dworkin, Anthony, and Nick Witney, "A Power Audit of EU - North Africa relations",, 17 September, 2012.
  17. ^ Barnes-Dacey, Julien, Lebanon: Containing spillover from Syria,, 10 September, 2012.
  18. ^ Barnes-Dacey, Julien,"Jordan: Reform before it’s too late",, 10 April, 2012.
  19. ^ Dennison, Susi, "A ‘reset’ with Algeria: the Russia to the EU’s south",, 13 December, 2011.
  20. ^ "Europe and the vanishing two-state solution",, 9 May, 2013.
  21. ^ "ECFR Council page". Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  22. ^ "The European Council on Foreign Relations: New Think Tank Hopes to Put Europe Back on the Map". Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  23. ^ "ECFR About page". Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  24. ^ "ECFR multimedia". Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  25. ^ McGann, James. "The Global "Go-To Think Tanks" Report 2009". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  26. ^ McGann, James. "The Global "Go-To Think Tanks" Report 2010" (PDF). University of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  27. ^ ""Think Tank of the Year Awards—the winners" in Prospect Magazine". Prospect Magazine. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  28. ^ ""ECFR wins Prospect UK International Affairs Think Tank of the Year award" in ECFR". ECFR. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  29. ^ ""Think Tank of the Year Awards—the winners" in Prospect Magazine". Prospect Magazine. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  30. ^ McGann, Sabatini (2011). Global Think Tanks: Policy Networks and Governance. UK: Routledge.