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.

Why China wants a G3 world

Despite the fashionable talk about BRICS and the G2 of Washington and Beijing, we really now live in a G3 world that combines US military power and consumption, Chinese capital and labour, and European rules and technology.  

We need new rules for a multipolar Europe

The Deauville summit involving Sarkozy, Merkel and Medvedev was always likely to be a non-event, beyond the recognition that Europe is now a multipolar continent. Instead we need a new system – an informal trialogue on European security that would keep the EU united, Russia post-imperial and Turkey European.

The spectre of a multipolar Europe

The meeting of Angela Merkel, Dmitri Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy at the French seaside resort of Deauville on Monday 18th has the right agenda – European security – but the wrong actors. A trialogue involving the EU, Russia and Turkey would be the best way to rethink security in Europe.

Stronger than it thinks it is: how Europe should deal with China

The question of how the EU should deal with the world’s rising powers will dominate the informal Gymnich foreign ministers’ meeting and the European Council meeting over the next week. In a memo to European leaders, François Godement and Mark Leonard argue that the financial crisis may have increased Europe’s leverage when it deals with Beijing

The EAS and Europe’s place in the world

Building the EAS is not simply about backroom Brussels politics and bureaucratic infighting. It is about giving Europe the means to punch its weight in a changing world

The 20 year crisis

Response to the Haiti tragedy; the struggling mission in Afghanistan; the economic crisis. The west is in a ’20 year crisis’.

Europe must rediscover its power

The EU needs to take a good look at its relations and position in the world ? Lady Ashton is well placed to integrate its strengths

Publications

Articles

Europe must prepare for a Trump presidency

European countries have been slow to recognise the potential implications of Donald Trump returning to the White House in 2025. Over the next six months, they must figure out how to secure essential ammunition, bolster their defence funding, and sustain support for Ukraine in the absence of US aid

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

Specials

Podcasts

Events

In the media