Associate researchers

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:





List of researchers


Sofia Maria Satanakis, Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES)

Sofia Maria Satanakis is a senior research fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES). Her research covers the topic of European Integration with a special focus on the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). She also covers the Western Balkans, Greece, and Turkey as well as their bilateral relations. 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 is also co-organising yearly conferences within the framework of ‘German-Austrian Debates on the Future of the EU’ of the AIES and the KFIBS e.V.


Simon Desplanque, Université catholique de Louvain

Simon Desplanque is a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the Université catholique de Louvain. His research focuses on culture in international relations and US politics. He is also interested in Belgian foreign policy, a topic on which he has published numerous book chapters and papers.


Marin Lessenski, Open Society Institute

Marin Lessenski is program director of the European Policies Program of the Open Society Institute – Sofia, where 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 CEE. 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 been a participant in the Transatlantic Young Leaders Program of the Aspen Institute in Berlin. His areas of interest include EU foreign, security, neighbourhood and enlargement policy, southeastern 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, along with evaluating and supporting investments. Robin previously worked as a contributing editor for Index Publishing, where he had several responsibilities at the most-read Croatian news site While there, he wrote on European integration, southeastern European politics, and domestic politics. He holds a postgraduate specialisation in European project management from the Faculty of Political Sciences, an MA in applied linguistics, and an MA in Italian language and literature from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Zagreb. There, 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 (GLOPOL). He also serves as project coordinator at the Turkish-Cypriot Journalists Association, where he implements an EU funded civil society project titled ‘Possible: Stronger, freer and more ethical journalism.’ He received his BA in political science and public administration from Bilkent University in Ankara and holds a MSc in European politics from Birkbeck, University of London. Between 2007-2019 he oversaw the horizontal coordination of the harmonisation of the Turkish-Cypriot community with the European Union through the EU’s financial assistance and took an active part in the UN-led negotiation process for the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Czech Republic

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 also served as a director of strategic planning and analysis at the department of the ministry of foreign affairs of the Slovak Republic, a member of the programme council of the Czech-Polish Forum, and as a board member for several non-governmental organisations. He earned his MA in international trade and international politics from the faculty of international relations at the University of Economics, Prague, and has been lecturing 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 (DIIS) in Copenhagen. Her main areas of research 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.


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. He was an advisor to the Estonian government in the European Future Convention and as a researcher for several institutions, including the OSCE, SIDA, the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, the Latvia Institute of International Affairs, and Eurasia Group. He has lectures at the University of Tartu, the Estonian National Defence College, Ukrainian Diplomatic Academy, OSCE Border Management Staff College, and 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.


Mathilda Salo, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

Mathilda Salo is a specialist in research communications at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA). She holds an MA in political science from the University of Helsinki. Her master’s thesis examined the EU’s approach towards complex security sectors and violent non-state actors.


Léonard Colomba-Petteng, Sciences Po Paris

Léonard Colomba-Petteng is a PhD candidate at the Center for International Research (CERI) at Sciences Po Paris and the Institute for Strategic Research (IRSEM). His research focuses on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in the Sahel. He was also part of the EU-LISTCO project, a research programme funded by the European Commission, which investigated the challenges posed to European foreign policy by identifying risks connected to areas of limited statehood and contested orders. Previously, he was a visiting researcher at the Institute for European Studies of the Free University of Brussels. He teaches international relations at Sciences Po Paris.

Martin Quencez, German Marshall Funds of the United States

Martin Quencez currently serves as deputy director of German Marshall Funds of the United States’ (GMF) Paris office and research fellow in the ‘Security and Defense’ programme. His work includes research on transatlantic security and defence cooperation as well as US and French foreign policy, on which he regularly writes articles for the French and international press. He also taught transatlantic relations at the Euro-American campus of Sciences Po. Prior to joining GMF, he worked for the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. He is currently completing a PhD in contemporary history at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University.


Jule Könneke, Polis180/E3G

Jule Könneke has been president of Polis180 e.V., a Berlin-based grassroots think tank for foreign and European affairs since 2019, after having served as board member from 2017-2019. She is also a climate diplomacy researcher in E3G’s ‘Geopolitics, Diplomacy and Security’ team. In addition to climate diplomacy, she is interested in foreign policy, climate policy, European politics, and the implications of climate change for human, national, and international security. Since 2019, Könneke has been a member of the board of advisors of ‘netzwerk n e.V.’ and an ambassador of the Foundation for the Rights for Future Generations. Könneke holds a MA in political science from the University of Potsdam. She earned a BA in political science, international relations, and English from University of Würzburg, which included a year abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico.


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 (CIFE) 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. George recently joined the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) as a research associate, where he is also moderating 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 of the Central European University and at the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs. Her research interests include Hungarian, EU, and foreign policy, Central European cooperation, including Visegrad, the EU’s relations with its Eastern neighbourhood, and the radical right in Central Europe.


Andrew Gilmore, Institute of International and European Affairs

Andrew Gilmore is the deputy director of research at the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin. He leads the work of the IIEA’s UK project group, including its extensive Brexit events and publications programme. He also oversees the IIEA’s foreign policy, enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy research and event programmes. He is the author or co-author of several books, articles, and policy briefs for the IIEA and other organisations.


Marco Saracco

Marco Saracco is an independent political and international relations analyst. Previously, he was a pan-European fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. He holds an MA from the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, and an MA in international relations from the University of Bologna. His main areas of interest and research are Italian and European foreign policy and the nexus between geopolitics and economics.


Karlis Bukovskis

Karlis Bukovskis is a researcher and the deputy director at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA). He is the author of numerous articles and scientific editor of several books. Bukovskis is also an assistant professor at Riga Stradins University, where he focuses on global political economy, the international financial system, and the European Union. He acquired his MA degrees from the University of Latvia and the University of Helsinki, and a doctoral degree (Dr. sc. pol) in international politics from Riga Stradins University. Bukovskis has dealt with European Union institutional, political, and economic developments while serving at the ministry of foreign affairs of Latvia, at the secretariat of the Latvian presidency of the Council of the European Union, where he developed the presidency’s six-month work program, and at the ministry of finance of Latvia. He also produces and co-hosts a program discussing global politics and economics at Latvian Radio 1.

Aleksandra Palkova, Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA)

Aleksandra Palkova is a junior researcher at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA) and a senior laboratory assistant at Riga Stradins University, where she analyses problems within the European Union, provides support in research, publications, organising international conferences, and project management. Palkova is a current master’s student and received a BA in political science from Riga Stradins University in 2020. She also was an exchange student at Western University in the Netherlands. Previously, she 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 scientific and academic interests include the political and institutional processes of the European Union, Japanese foreign policy, and politics in Central Asia.


Justinas Mickus, Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis

Justinas Mickus is an associate analyst at the Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis (VIPA). His research centres on the processes of European integration, with a special focus on EU commercial and competition policy. He also covers questions related to the Nordic-Baltic cooperation in the context of European and transatlantic politics. Before joining the Vilnius Institute, Mickus worked for the Liechtenstein Institute of Self-Determination at Princeton University. He graduated from Princeton University in 2020 and is currently pursuing MPhil at the University of Cambridge.


Cassiopée Thuin, University of Luxembourg

Cassiopée Thuin is a doctoral student in political sciences at the University of Luxembourg. She is writing her thesis on microfinance impact with a specific focus on investment practices and local impact in the field. She is also working for the Luxembourg Microfinance Development Fund as an investment analyst. Cassiopée holds an MA in European governance from the University of Luxembourg and a double BA in international management from Dublin City University and ESB Business School in Reutlingen, Germany.


Daniel Mainwaring, Independent Global Policy Researcher

Daniel Mainwaring is an independent foreign policy advisor 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 been an advisor to the Maltese ministry for foreign affairs and a researcher for the International Centre for Migration Policy Development. He is a regular contributor to Oxford Analytica. His primary research interests are 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 appeared, amongst others, 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’ (RENPET). He is also involved in educational programs for foreign policy and defence professionals and is regularly invited for expert meetings at foreign policy and defence institutions.


Adam Balcer, University of Warsaw

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, 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 main areas of interest include contemporary international politics, European politics, transatlantic relations, and Portuguese foreign policy. She regularly serves as commentator on these subjects in national and international media outlets. Her latest publications include “Crisis presidency: How Portuguese leadership can guide the EU into the post-covid Era” (2020) and “The instinctive multilateralist: Portugal and the politics of cooperation” (2019), both with Susi Dennison.


Radu Magdin, Smart Link Communications

Radu Magdin is an international analyst, consultant, and think tanker. He worked as an honorary advisor to the Romanian prime minister and advised the Moldovan prime minister on a range of strategic issues, from political strategy and communications to reforms implementation and external affairs. He was a NATO Emerging Leader with the Atlantic Council of the United States (2014), a Forbes Romania Trendsetter (2014), and a Warsaw Security Leader (2015). Magdin has a PhD on resilience to Russian information operations. Since 2019, he has also been lecturing at Romania’s National School of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA) on “Global Competition and Strategic Communications” and “Global Communication Campaigns”. Magdin serves as a national contact point for the European Commission’s IDEA advisory service.


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, where he received his PhD. His primary focus is on issues of organisation theory, European Union, foreign and security policy of the EU, and Europeanisation of the Balkans. Previously, he was a visiting scholar at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). In his PhD dissertation, Navrátil explored institutional and administrative changes in ministries of foreign affairs in selected countries as a consequence of Europeanisation beyond the EU borders. He 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 authored a number of reports on the foreign policy and domestic politics in Slovenia.


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 different Spanish media outlets, and has been a radio and digital commentator on European issues. Her research interests include national identity, democracy studies, European integration, the rise of extreme-right parties in Europe, and geopolitics.


Bjorn Fägersten, Swedish Institute for International Affairs

Björn Fägersten is a senior research fellow and director of the Europe Programme at the Swedish Institute for International Affairs (UI). He conducts research on European integration, security policy, intelligence, international institutions, and political risk. Current projects involve the geopolitical consequences of Brexit, intelligence cooperation within international security institutions, and the concept of political risk in public and private sectors.

Ylva Petterson, Swedish Institute of International Affairs

Ylva Pettersson is a programme manager and analyst in the Europe Programme of the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI), where she also oversees public events. She focuses on European security, crisis management and civil protection, and other current issues related to the European Union. Pettersson holds an MA in political science with a focus on security studies from the Swedish National Defence University. Previously, she worked at the National Defence University and interned with the Swedish ministry of foreign affairs and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

United Kingdom

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. This entails a particular focus on the meta-theoretical underpinnings of the concept and its useful application in terms of the foreign and security policy of the European Union towards non-member states in its near abroad.