ECFR’s research conducted through its team of researchers in the EU member states lends a uniquely pan-European perspective to some of the biggest strategic issues and choices Europeans need to confront. Since its inception in 2010 the network has contributed to ECFR flagship reports on European foreign and security policy, the EU27’s relations vis-à-vis global partners, as well as the internal governance and cohesion of the European Union.
The research is conducted individually and involves in-person and telephone interviews as well as desktop research such as analyzing government publications, speeches, official announcements, opinion polls, etc. Four to six research assignments are run per year. Each is guided by a specific questionnaire, developed by ECFR, that includes the questions and topics relevant for a given project.
Key to the role of Associate Researcher is the ability to work independently and acquire information first-hand from policy makers and experts on changing topics related to EU policy and European external affairs. ECFR Associate Researchers share a solid understanding of European (foreign) policy processes, institutions, and are familiar with navigating their national policy communities. Their work contributes background information and gives relevant context for drafting ECFR reports on each research topic.
ECFR’s pan-European research through its team of Associates relies on trust and confidentiality. Personal information or the identity of interviewees are neither disclosed to the public nor any third party as part of the research or the ECFR publications that are based on it.
Recent reports and publications
Recent ECFR special reports and publications, informed by research of the network, include:
- The old is dying and the new cannot be born: A power audit of EU-Russia relations
- EU Energy Deals Tracker
- Green peace: How Europe’s climate policy can survive the war in Ukraine
- European Sovereignty Index
- The European Sentiment Compass 2022
- Europe’s green moment: How to meet the climate challenge
- Moving closer: European views of the Indo-Pacific
- European Solidarity Tracker
- Deep sea rivals: Europe, Turkey, and new eastern Mediterranean conflict lines
- Mapping European leverage in the MENA region
- Independence play: Europe’s pursuit of strategic autonomy (PDF version)
- How to govern a fragmented EU: What Europeans said at the ballot box (PDF version)
- The 2019 European election: How anti-Europeans plan to wreck Europe and what can be done to stop it (PDF version)
- Eyes tight shut: European attitudes towards nuclear deterrence (PDF version)
- The nightmare of the dark: The security fears that keep Europeans awake at night (PDF version)
- Winning the normative war with Russia: An EU-Russia Power Audit (PDF version)
- The discreet charm of hypocrisy: An EU-Turkey Power Audit (PDF version)
- China at the gates: A new power audit of EU-China relations (PDF version)
- The transatlantic meaning of Donald Trump: a US-EU Power Audit (PDF version)
- The future shape of Europe: How the EU can bend without breaking (PDF version)
List of researchers
Sofia Maria Satanakis, Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES)
Sofia Maria Satanakis is responsible for scientific outreach at the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information. Satanakis is also a senior associated fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES). She first joined AIES in 2013 as a research fellow. Her research addresses European integration with a special focus on EU Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defence Policy. She also covers the Western Balkans. In 2017, she joined the Cologne Forum for International Relations and Security Policy (KFIBS e.V.) as part of the research group ‘Europe/EU’. She co-organises yearly conferences within the framework of ‘German-Austrian Debates on the Future of the EU’ for AIES and KFIBS e.V.
Vincent Gabriel, UCLouvain
Vincent Gabriel is historian and teaching assistant at the Catholic University of Louvain, where he lectures in geopolitics. His research focuses on reconciliation processes, and geopolitical and memory issues. He is currently working on a PhD thesis about teaching practices of conflictual pasts.
Marin Lessenski, Open Society Institute
Marin Lessenski is programme director of the European Policies Program at the Open Society Institute – Sofia. There, he is responsible for the ‘Catch-Up Index’, which measures the convergence or divergence of European countries along key economy, democracy, governance, and quality of life indicators, with a focus on central and eastern Europe. He holds an MA in southeast European studies from the Central European University, Budapest, and an MA in history from the University of Sofia. Previously, he was a Freedom House visiting fellow with the Hudson Institute’s Center for European and Eurasian Studies and the Center of National Security Studies. He has also participated in the Transatlantic Young Leaders programme at the Aspen Institute in Berlin. His research interests include EU foreign, security, neighbourhood, and enlargement policy; south-eastern Europe; and the Black Sea region.
Robin-Ivan Capar, Spitzberg Partners LLC
Robin-Ivan Capar is a media expert and policy analyst based in Zagreb, Croatia. As the head of the Zagreb office of Spitzberg Partners LLC, he covers the technology, media, and telecom sectors and works on the evaluation and support of investments. Robin previously worked as a contributing editor for Index Publishing, where he had several responsibilities at the most popular Croatian news site, Index.hr. He has previously worked as a consultant for RTL Croatia and Time Out Croatia. He holds a postgraduate specialisation in European project management and MAs in applied linguistics and Italian language and literature from the University of Zagreb, where he is also currently working on his PhD.
Hüseyin Silman, Global Policies Centre
Hüseyin Silman is the vice-president of the newly founded Turkish-Cypriot think-tank Global Policies Centre. He also serves as project coordinator at the Turkish-Cypriot Journalists Association, where he implements an EU-funded civil society project entitled ‘Possible: Stronger, freer and more ethical journalism.’ He holds a BA in political science and public administration from Bilkent University in Ankara and an MSc in European politics from Birkbeck, University of London. Between 2007-2019 he oversaw the horizontal coordination of the EU-funded harmonisation of the Turkish-Cypriot community with the European Union and played an active role in the UN-led negotiation process for the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Vladimír Bartovic, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy
Vladimír Bartovic is the director of EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy in Prague. In 2014, he was appointed as an external advisor on EU policies to the minister of foreign affairs of the Czech Republic. Previously, he served as a director of strategic planning and analysis at the Slovak Republic’s ministry of foreign affairs, a member of the programme council of the Czech-Polish Forum, and as a board member for several non-governmental organisations. He holds an MA in international trade and international politics from the University of Economics, Prague and lectures on topical EU issues at the Institute of Public Administration and the Czech National Bank. His main areas of expertise include EU affairs, enlargement, and foreign policy; economic development; the economic and monetary union; and Slovak foreign, domestic, and economic policy.
Christine Nissen, Danish Institute for International Studies
Christine Nissen is a researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies in Copenhagen. Her research interests include wider European security, Western interventionism, international relations theory, European integration, and national public policy. In particular, she studies multilateral security governance structures and how they affect European states. She holds a PhD from Roskilde University and an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Viljar Veebel, Baltic Defence College
Viljar Veebel is a researcher in the department of political and strategic studies at the Baltic Defence College in Tartu. He holds a BA and an MA in international relations and a PhD in political science from the University of Tartu. Previously, he was an advisor to the Estonian government in the European Future Convention and a researcher for institutions such as the OSCE, SIDA, the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, the Latvia Institute of International Affairs, and Eurasia Group. He has lectured at the University of Tartu, the Estonian National Defence College, the Ukrainian Diplomatic Academy, the OSCE Border Management Staff College, and the Estonian Diplomatic Academy. His main areas of competence cover Russian military doctrine and strategic ambitions, concepts and models of deterrence for small nation states, and hybrid warfare.
Tuomas Iso-Markku, Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Tuomas Iso-Markku is a Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
Gesine Weber, German Marshall Fund of the United States (Paris) & King’s College London
Gesine Weber works as program coordinator at the Paris Office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and is conducting doctoral research at the department of defence studies at King’s College London. Her research addresses European security and defence with a particular focus on new formats of defence cooperation, EU-UK relations, the E3 (France, Germany, UK), and Europe’s role on the geopolitical chessboard. She regularly publishes and speaks on these topics in French, British, and German media. Gesine previously worked as a consultant on China for the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation and as a parliamentary advisor on security and defence for a German member of parliament. She holds an MA in European affairs from SciencesPo Paris and an MA in political science from Freie Universität Berlin. She has also studied Mandarin at the Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Stephan Naumann works as a officer on EU political education at planpolitik GbR in Berlin, where he is responsible for project management and product development for innovate simulation-game based EU
political education formats. He also works independently as a researcher and consultant, where he focuses on German and European foreign and security policy, particularly in the EU’s Southern neighbourhood. He has extensively worked on German EU policy in positions at the Institut für
Europäische Politik, Global Bridges e.V., the FiFo Institute for Public Economics and at the Bertelsmann Stiftung. He holds an MA in International Relations from the Freie Universität Berlin and a BA in
International Relations as well as Philosophy of the Social Sciences from the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, and speaks fluent German, English, Spanish, French, and Dutch.
George Tzogopoulos, Democritus University of Thrace
George Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics, international relations, and Chinese affairs. He is a senior research fellow at the Centre International de Européenne and visiting lecturer at its European Institute. He teaches international relations and energy international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. Tzogopoulos recently joined the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies as a research associate, where he also moderates a series of online debates on international themes.
Zsuzsanna Végh, European University Viadrina
Zsuzsanna Végh is a research fellow at the Comparative Politics Chair of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). Previously, she worked at the Center for European Neighbourhood Studies at the Central European University and at the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs. Her research interests include Hungary’s EU and foreign policy, Central European cooperation (including Visegrad), the EU’s external relations, and the radical right in Europe.
Harry Higgins, European Parliament
Harry Higgins is a policy and communications advisor at the European Parliament, with a focus on international trade and development policy. He holds an MA in European political and governance studies from the College of Europe in Bruges, where his thesis centred on the global politics of corporate taxation.
Alberto Rizzi, ECFR-Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo
Alberto Rizzi is a pan-European fellow at the Rome Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. His research interests focus mainly on European economic policies, international trade, and the geopolitics of energy and infrastructures. Rizzi has extensive experience in research, having worked at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, the European Army Interoperability Centre, the Italy-China Foundation, and the Italian Embassy in Tallinn. He holds a BA in international and European studies from the University of Milan and an MA in international politics and regional dynamics from the same institution. He later completed an advanced master’s in EU economic governance at the Institute for European Studies of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
Aleksandra Palkova, Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA)
Aleksandra Palkova is a researcher at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs and a senior laboratory assistant at Riga Stradins University, where she analyses problems within the EU, provides support in research, publications, project management, and the organisation of international conferences. Palkova is currently a master’s student and holds a BA in political science from Riga Stradins University. She was also an exchange student at Western University in the Netherlands. She has organised more than 20 international conferences, frequently commented on current events on radio and television, and supported in the development of Latvian Radio 1’s ‘Diplomatic Lunch’ programme. Her research interests include the political and institutional processes of the EU, Japanese foreign policy, and politics in Central Asia.
Justinas Mickus, Eastern Europe Studies Center
Justinas Mickus is a policy analyst at the Lithuanian Government’s Strategic Analysis Center (STRATA) and an associate analyst at the Eastern Europe Studies Center (EESC). His research focuses on the processes of European integration, with a special focus on the EU’s trade, investment, and competition policy. He also covers questions related to Nordic-Baltic cooperation in the context of European and transatlantic politics. Before joining STRATA and EESC, Justinas worked for the Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis and the Liechtenstein Institute of Self-Determination at Princeton University. He graduated from Princeton University in 2020 and obtained an MPhil from the University of Cambridge in 2021.
Tara Lipovina, University of Luxembourg
Tara Lipovina is a doctoral candidate in social sciences at the University of Luxembourg. She researches gender coherence in development policy, specifically looking at the impact of European integration on gender equality in EU candidate countries. She also works for a development organisation in Luxembourg as a project manager. Tara holds an MA in European governance from the University of Luxembourg and a BA in political science, with a focus on international relations and diplomacy, from the University of Montenegro and Heidelberg University.
Daniel Mainwaring, Independent Global Policy Researcher
Daniel Mainwaring is an independent foreign policy consultant and researcher based in Malta. He holds an MA in global policy studies from the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Among other recent positions, he has served as an advisor to the Maltese Ministry for Foreign Affairs and a researcher for the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, and he is a regular contributor to Oxford Analytica. His research interests include irregular migration policy and Mediterranean relations.
Niels van Willigen, Leiden University
Niels van Willigen is an associate professor of international relations in the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University. His professional interests include theories of international relations, foreign policy analysis, and security studies – particularly peace operations, arms control, and European security. His publications have appeared in journals such as the in European Journal of International Relations, International Peacekeeping, and East European Politics. Van Willigen coordinates the Jean Monnet Network ‘Reconceptualizing European Power in an Age of Turmoil’. He is also involved in educational programs for foreign policy and defence professionals and is regularly invited to expert meetings at foreign policy and defence institutions.
Adam Balcer, College of Eastern Europe
Adam Balcer is programme director at the College of Eastern Europe in Wrocław and lectures at the Centre for East European Studies at the University of Warsaw. He has published several books, and many reports and articles on central-eastern Europe and the Black Sea region in various languages.
Lívia Franco, Catholic University of Portugal
Lívia Franco is a professor and senior researcher at the Institute for Political Studies at the Catholic University of Portugal. Her research interests include contemporary international politics, European politics, and Portuguese foreign policy. She regularly commentates on these subjects in national and international media outlets. Her latest publications include “Edge of the Atlantic: Portugal’s Presidency of the EU Council” (2021), and “Crisis Presidency: How Portuguese leadership can guide the EU into the post-covid Era” (2020) with Susi Dennison.
Oana Popescu-Zamfir, GlobalFocus Centre
Oana Popescu-Zamfir is the director and founder of GlobalFocus Center, an independent foreign policy and security think-tank, and a Europe’s Futures fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. She is also an international consultant, media commentator, writer, and lecturer. Previously, she was the state secretary for EU Affairs in the Romanian government and a foreign policy adviser to the president of the Romanian senate (current NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana), programmes director of the Aspen Institute Romania, and senior editor of the Romanian edition of Foreign Policy magazine. Her expertise covers geopolitics and security in the EU/NATO neighbourhood, transatlantic relations, global political risk and strategic analysis, shifting models of governance, hybrid threats, EU affairs, democratisation and democratic resilience, and influence operations. Oana was a Fulbright scholar at Yale University and completed executive studies at Harvard University and the University of St Andrews.
Matej Navrátil, Institute of Political Science, Slovak Academy of Sciences
Matej Navrátil is a research fellow at the Institute of Political Science of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and is also affiliated with Comenius University, from which he received a PhD. His research interests include organisation theory, the European Union, foreign and security policy of the EU, and the Europeanisation of the Balkans. Previously, he was a visiting scholar at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. In his PhD dissertation, Navrátil explored institutional and administrative changes in ministries of foreign affairs in selected countries as a consequence of Europeanisation beyond EU borders. He has co-authored two book chapters for international scholarly volumes published in the Hague Journal of Diplomacy, and released several working papers focusing on the EU’s role in crisis management and foreign policy in general.
Marko Lovec, University of Ljubljana
Marko Lovec is a research fellow and associate professor of international relations at the University of Ljubljana, faculty of social science. He specialises in European integration and central Europe. He has authored a number of reports on Slovenian foreign policy and domestic politics.
Astrid Portero, Independent Political Analyst
Astrid Portero is an independent political and international relations analyst. She holds a BA in political science from Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She has written about Brexit, international geopolitics, and European politics for various Spanish media outlets and has contributed to radio and digital commentary on European issues. Her research interests include national identity, democracy studies, European integration, the rise of extreme-right parties in Europe, and geopolitics.
Amna Handzic, Swedish Institute for International Affairs
Amna Handzic is a programme manager of the Europe Programme at the Swedish Institute for International Affairs.
Euan Carss, King’s College London
Euan Carss is an Economic and Social Research Council funded PhD candidate at King’s College London. He holds an MA (Hons) in international relations from the University of Edinburgh, an MSc in crisis and security management from Leiden University in The Netherlands, and recently completed an MA in European studies at King’s College London. His doctoral research focuses primarily on issues of trust in international relations, particularly the meta-theoretical underpinnings of the concept and its useful application in terms of the foreign and security policy of the EU towards nearby non-member states.