Press release: ECFR’s new governance and new focus

  • Board members Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag; and Lykke Friis, former minister of Climate and Energy, former minister for Gender Equality in Denmark, and current German correspondent for the Danish daily Berlingske Tidende join Carl Bildt as ECFR co-chairs.
  • ECFR co-chairs Emma Bonino, former foreign minister and former minister for International Trade and European Affairs of Italy; and Mabel van Oranje, chair of Girls Not Brides – The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, officially step down from the ECFR Board and join Martti Athisaari and Joschka Fischer as Chairs Emeriti. The entire ECFR community thanks them for their exceptional service and commitment to the ECFR.
  • Council member Marta Dassù from Italy, senior director of European Affairs at The Aspen Institute and council member Franziska Brantner, member of the German Bundestag, join the ECFR Board.
  • ECFR increases focus on two programs, specifically on responding to populism in Europe and in the European Parliament elections in May, and in strengthening Europe’s sovereignty and capacity to have its own foreign policy

As Europe and the world undergo dramatic changes, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is also evolving.  With the change above, we are renewing our governance, reaching out to new audiences, and particularly expanding our impact in Germany.  Our work is similarly moving into new areas.  We have new projects that to explain the role of foreign policy in European domestic politics and in the rise of populism. We are actively exploring new methods to unlock Europe’s hidden internationalist majority and sustain coalitions for a progressive, united European foreign policy. To understand what those coalitions should do, we have also developed a project to protect European sovereignty by defining European interests on the world stage and develop a hard-headed strategy for achieving them. In an age of increased geo-political competition, we seek to ensure that Europe can be a global actor, not just a plaything of other powers.

With these two projects, ECFR’s work will focus on countering the rise of populism in Europe, reaching a broader constituency in foreign-policy decision making, and preparing Europeans to come together and develop a habit of thinking for themselves. The projects also offer an opportunity to build new relationships that will increase ECFR’s impact at a time when expertise is often devalued or mistrusted. Foreign policy can no longer be considered in isolation from domestic policy. There is a need to build a domestic constituency for constructive international engagement and to connect foreign policy to the dreams and desires of Europe’s population.  ECFR, along with its new board partners is at the forefront of that effort.

Mark Leonard, director and founder of ECFR, said:

“Since ECFR’s earliest beginnings, Mabel and Emma have been at the very heart of ECFR’s success. Their energy, enthusiasm and belief in ECFR’s mission have helped bring us forward leaps and bounds over the years and we would not be the organisation we are today without their dynamism and leadership.”

Carl Bildt, ECFR co-chair, has said:

“I am extremely pleased that Lykke Friis and Norbert Röttgen will now join our ECFR board also as co-chairs during the coming years. They bring expertise and experience that will further increase the weight of our voice in the important debate about the future of the EU as a global actor.”


Media enquiries:

For comments and interview requests, please contact ECFR’s communications director, Ana Ramic, at [email protected] T: +49 (0)30 3250510-27 M: +49 (0)151 65114216; ECFR’s communications team at [email protected].

About ECFR:

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is a pan-European think-tank that aims to conduct cutting-edge independent research in pursuit of a coherent, effective, and values-based European foreign policy.

With a network of offices in seven European capitals, over 60 staff from more than 25 different countries and a team of associated researchers in the EU 28 member states, ECFR is uniquely placed to provide pan-European perspectives on the biggest strategic challenges and choices confronting Europeans today. ECFR is an independent charity and funded from a variety of sources. For more details, please visit:  

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.

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