Experts & Staff

Mark Leonard

Director

Areas of expertise

Geopolitics and Geoeconomics; China; EU-Russia relations; transatlantic relations; EU politics and institutions; public diplomacy and nation branding; UK foreign policy

Languages

English, French, German

Biography

Mark Leonard is co-founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, the first pan-European thinktank. He is also the current Henry A Kissinger chair in foreign policy and international relations at the US Library of Congress, Washington DC. His topics of focus include geopolitics and geoeconomics, China, EU politics and institutions.

Leonard hosts the weekly podcast “Mark Leonards’s World in 30 Minutes” and writes a syndicated column on global affairs for Project Syndicate. Previously he worked as director of foreign policy at the Centre for European Reform and as director of the Foreign Policy Centre, a think-tank he founded at the age of 24 under the patronage of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In the 1990s, Leonard worked for the think-tank Demos where his Britain™ report was credited with launching Cool Britannia. Mark has spent time in Washington, D.C. as a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and in Beijing as a visiting scholar at the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences.

He was Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geoeconomics until 2016.

Honoured as a “Young Global Leader” of the World Economic Forum, he spends a lot of time helping governments, companies, and international organisations make sense of the big geo-political trends of the twenty-first century. He is a regular speaker and prolific writer and commentator on global issues, the future of Europe, China’s internal politics, and the practice of diplomacy and business in a networked world. His essays have appeared in publications such as Foreign Affairs, the Financial Times, the New York TimesLe MondeSüddeutsche ZeitungEl PaisGazeta WyborczaForeign Policy, the New Statesman, the Daily TelegraphThe EconomistTime, and Newsweek.

As well as writing and commenting frequently in the media on global affairs, Leonard is the author of best-selling books. His first book, Why Europe will run the 21st Century, was published in 2005 and translated into 19 languages. Leonard’s second book, What does China think? was published in 2008 and translated into 15 languages. He has published an edited volume on Connectivity Wars and in September 2021, his latest book on this topic The Age of Unpeace. How Connectivity Causes Conflict was released.

The Trump effect takes Europe

If disaster can be averted in this year’s US presidential election, a second-term Biden administration will be able to count on a much better partner in Europe, owing to the mobilising effect of Donald Trump’s candidacy. European leaders are finally realising that they urgently need to get their act together

Sunset of the economists

Two decades ago, China’s reformist economists walked the halls of power and dictated policy. Now, they have been sidelined in favour of a new priority: national security. What happened?

Has the ‘polycrisis’ overwhelmed us?

Today’s global crises are not only competing for policymakers’ finite attention, they are increasingly feeding one another in unpredictable ways. Add the uncertainty around this year’s high-stakes elections in the US and elsewhere, and you have a recipe for a Davos meeting defined by angst and paralysis

Publications

Articles

The Trump effect takes Europe

If disaster can be averted in this year’s US presidential election, a second-term Biden administration will be able to count on a much better partner in Europe, owing to the mobilising effect of Donald Trump’s candidacy. European leaders are finally realising that they urgently need to get their act together

Sunset of the economists

Two decades ago, China’s reformist economists walked the halls of power and dictated policy. Now, they have been sidelined in favour of a new priority: national security. What happened?

Has the ‘polycrisis’ overwhelmed us?

Today’s global crises are not only competing for policymakers’ finite attention, they are increasingly feeding one another in unpredictable ways. Add the uncertainty around this year’s high-stakes elections in the US and elsewhere, and you have a recipe for a Davos meeting defined by angst and paralysis

Europe needs a new Ukraine strategy

The European Union’s decision to start accession talks with Ukraine represents a symbolic victory rather than a practical one. With Ukraine struggling to secure crucial aid, and its counter-offensive failing to achieve its objectives, it is time to redefine what constitutes a Ukrainian victory and a Russian defeat

Polywar and polyamorous geopolitics

US President Joe Biden’s largely successful response to Russia’s war against Ukraine reflects his vision of the world as a bloc of democracies facing off against revisionist autocracies. But there is growing evidence that this is a minority view, even among some of America’s closest allies

The global consequences of the Israel-Hamas war

The impact of the Israel-Hamas war will reverberate around the world, with consequences for the Middle East, Europe, China, and the United States. While the specific challenges vary, none has an interest in drawing out or widening the conflict

The geopolitics of EU enlargement

The debate surrounding the EU’s potential expansion is no longer really about Ukraine and the Western Balkans. Enlargement is now an existential question with far-reaching implications for the EU and its ability to remain a prominent player in a rapidly changing global environment

This cold war is different

Contrary to how it may appear to many, not least in the US, the new cold war seems to be based not on the old logic of polarisation, but on a new logic of fragmentation. Judging by the growth of the BRICS group of major emerging economies, there is no shortage of countries that find that new logic enticing

The West’s Chinese crossroads

Against the backdrop of the US-China rivalry, it is tempting to ignore recent strategy changes by smaller players like Canada and Hungary. But these two countries offer radically different models for other countries to consider as they navigate an increasingly fraught geopolitical terrain

Specials

Podcasts

Events

In the media