Experts & Staff

Arturo Varvelli

Head, ECFR Rome
Senior Policy Fellow

Areas of expertise

Geopolitics and International Relations; MENA Region; Libya; EU-MENA relations; Italian-Libyan relations; Italian foreign policy


Italian, English, basic French


Arturo Varvelli is the Head of the Rome Office and a Senior Policy Fellow for the European Council on Foreign Relations. His research interests include geopolitics and international affairs, international relations of the MENA region, EU-MENA relations, Italian foreign policy towards the MENA, and transnational terrorism movements affecting the area. His main focus is Libya, a country he has extensively worked on, unpacking its domestic and foreign politics, and Italian-Libyan relations in particular.

Previously, Varvelli worked as the Co-Head of the MENA Center and Head of the Terrorism Programme at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI). In ISPI, he provided scientific coordination of the “Rome MED – Mediterranean Dialogues” organized by ISPI and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, he was also a lecturer of History and Institutions of the Middle East at IULM University in Milan and a Visiting Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD).

Varvelli holds a PhD in International History from the University of Milan, and a post-PhD from the CRT Foundation of Turin. He also took part in research projects funded by the Italian Chamber of Representatives and Senate, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Parliament and Commission. In 2015, he was chosen by the US State Department to take part in the International Visitor Leadership Program.

He has extensively published on Libya. His first book, “Italy and the rise of Ghaddafi” (“L’Italia e l’ascesa di Gheddafi”, 2009) focused on Italian-Libyan relations, while later books, published in collaboration with The Atlantic Council and Brookings Institutions, rather delved into Libya’s and the MENA’s foreign projections. In 2018, he took part in a Brooking Institution’s working group on the Libyan crisis.

He is also a regular speaker and commentator on Libyan and MENA issues in the main Italian media. His comments have also appeared in international newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Economist.

Views from the capitals: The Libya conference in Berlin

ECFR’s national offices explore whether the conference marks a fresh beginning for Europe’s engagement with war-torn Libya

In the media