Annual Council Meeting 2021

ECFR’s Council Members – Europe’s leading decision-makers, opinion-shapers, and public intellectuals – gathered together on 9-10 December in Berlin for ECFR’s Annual Council Meeting to connect and discuss the myriad issues facing Europe and the European Union today

, Berlin time (CET, UTC+1)

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Our annual gathering came at an auspicious time. The dust only just had settled from Germany’s once-in-a-generation election result, which signals the likely advent of a three-party German government. How will this new, post-Merkel, Germany operate within Europe? Diplomatic one-upmanship from China and the United States continues unabated – how should the EU respond? And, as ever, we look ahead to the year to come – 2022 brings the French presidential election and its aftereffects, as well as the ongoing threat of populist authoritarianism in Europe, with the challenges its proponents pose to the rule of law.

The Annual Council Meeting examined all these topics and more through the fading but enduring lens of covid-19 as the global economy begins to revive. The event aimed to provide practical and implementable solutions to these questions while at the same time broadening the debate to include new perspectives and alternative solutions.

Since 2008 this flagship gathering has evolved into a key event in the European political calendar. Attendees regularly include heads of state, European commissioners, and senior representatives of the largest NGOs and political think-tanks. These mingle with top journalists and leading academics in pursuit of a more coordinated and effective European foreign policy.

The ACM was held in a hybrid capacity with plenary sessions livestreamed to the public, and other sessions, dinners, and networking opportunities closed to ECFR’s Council Members.


Day 1, Thursday 9 December

  • 12:55 – 13:10
    • Welcome and scene-setter
      • Lykke Friis, Co-Chair of ECFR and Director, Think Tank Europa
  • 13:10 – 13:30
    • The Power Atlas: Our new method of viewing power in the 21st century
      • Mark Leonard, Director and Co-founder, ECFR
  • 13:35 – 14:50
    • Geopolitics – EU’s relative global power
      • José Manuel Albares, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Kingdom of Spain
      • Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships
      • Ivan Krastev, Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies (CLS)
      • Chaired by Florian Eder, Executive Editor Germany, Politico
  • 15:15 – 16:15
    • A New Normal: Europe, China and the future of global trade
      • Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden
      • Wolfgang Niedermark, Member of the Executive Board, Federation of German Industries (BDI)
      • Sabine Weyand, Director General DG TRADE, European Commission
      • Chaired by Janka Oertel, Director of the Asia Programme, ECFR
  • 17:00 – 18:00
    • Investing in Africa’s transition to green as an opportunity to fight the climate crisis, develop economic opportunities and Global Gateway objectives
      • Pekka Haavisto, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finland
      • Anja Langenbucher, Director, Europe Office, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
      • Rémy Rioux, CEO, French Development Agency (AFD)
      • Chaired by Theodore Murphy, Director of the Africa programme, ECFR

Day 2, Friday 10 December

  • 09:00 – 10:00
    • Security Policy: EU’s Strategic Compass and new strategic concept of NATO
      • Stefano Sannino, General Secretary, European External Action Service
      • João Gomes Cravinho, Minister of National Defence, Portugal
      • Chaired by Jana Puglierin, Head of Berlin Office, ECFR
  • 11:45 – 13:00
    • Challenges to the rule of law and the forthcoming French EU council presidency
      • Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency
      • Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, France
      • Bogdan Klich, Senator & Chairman of the Foreign and European Union Affairs Committee, Senate of Poland
      • Chaired by Sylvie Kauffmann, Editorial Director, Le Monde
  • 13:00 – 13:15
    • Closing remarks
      • Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden and Co-Chair of ECFR

Media partners

Project Syndicate
Table Europe

Past meetings