Experts & Staff


Mark Leonard

Director

Languages: English, French, German
Areas of Expertise: Geopolitics and Geoeconomics; China; EU-Russia relations; transatlantic relations; EU institutions; public diplomacy and nation branding; UK foreign policy

Mark Leonard is co-founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, the first pan-European think tank. His topics of focus include geopolitics and geoeconomics, China, and EU institutions. 

Leonard 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 author of two 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 is working on a forthcoming book on the same topic. 


Latest from Mark Leonard

  • Cover: Meddling or Bargaining? - Emmanuel Macron’s Iran Initiative

    Meddling or Bargaining? - Emmanuel Macron's Iran Initiative

    This week, ECFR director Mark Leonard discusses with experts Ellie Geranmayeh and Julien Barnes-Dacey the French president Emmanuel Macron's bold initiative: Europeans are now to explore a credit line for Iran to entice the sanctions-battered country to keep abiding by an international nuclear deal. But the US and president Trump are sceptical.

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    The podcast was recorded on 6 September 2019.

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    Cover: Independence Play: Europe’s Pursuit of Strategic Autonomy

    Independence Play: Europe's Pursuit of Strategic Autonomy

    In the final episode of our special summer series on European strategic sovereignty, regular host Mark Leonard is joined by two of ECFR’s own experts: research director Jeremy Shapiro and Senior Policy Fellow and head of the Paris office Tara Varma. Topic of discussion is research led by Ulrike Franke and Tara Varma looking at how Europeans from all of the different EU member states see strategic autonomy. Is the idea of strategic sovereignty owned by the French? If it is, does French ownership pose a problem for the acceptance of the idea? What is the military component of European strategic sovereignty? What role is there for the UK after Brexit? These are some of the questions they discuss.

    The paper that is referred to can be found here: https://www.ecfr.eu/specials/scorecard/independence_play_europes_pursuit_of_strategic_autonomy 

    This podcast was recorded on Friday, August 30, 2019.

    Picture retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emmanuel_Macron_and_Angela_Merkel_(Frankfurter_Buchmesse_2017).jpg
    Public domain.

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    Will the Iran conflict break the West? (Commentary)

    Mark Leonard - 30 August 2019

    After months of both the United States and Iran taking a harder line against each other, Europe finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place. If Iran pursues further brinkmanship in response to US provocation, European Union member states may decide they have no choice but to embrace the Trump administration’s containment strategy.

     
     

    Cover: Should Europe Take Sides in US-China Tech Wars?

    Should Europe Take Sides in US-China Tech Wars?

    As the US-China tech war escalates, techno-nationalism looks to replace global connectivity and collaboration. Helping ECFR director Mark Leonard understand the tech rivalry are Andrew Small, a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund, Tim Rühlig, a researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs and Amy Studdart, a senior advisor at the International Republican Institute and Founder of the tech startup Villager. The all-star cast discuss the pressing questions: Will either side agree to a tech war truce? Will globalization unravel? What role will Europe play?

    The podcast was recorded on Tuesday, 16 July 2019.

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    A fistful of dollars: Europe and US sanctions (Commentary)

    Jonathan Hackenbroich & Mark Leonard - 15 August 2019

    The European Union needs an Office for Financial Asset Control to defend its home industry against sanctions


    Cover: Harnessing artificial intelligence

    Harnessing artificial intelligence

    In this episode of ECFR’s special summer series on European strategic sovereignty, Mark Leonard talks to Ulrike Franke, ECFR Policy Fellow, about artificial intelligence (AI). Mark asks Ulrike, who is currently on leave at the University of Oxford studying AI, where Europe stands compared to the United States and China in harnessing this promising new technology. More specifically, they look at the ingredients needed to develop good AI (talent, data and hardware) and ask to what extent Europe has them. The two end with a number of recommendations for Europe’s leaders as to what it can do to catch up with frontrunners US and China.

    The podcast was recorded Monday, July 15, 2019.

    Picture retrieved from pixabay: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/artificial-intelligence-brain-think-4389372/. 

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    Cover: Protecting Europe against hybrid threats

    Protecting Europe against hybrid threats

    In the third episode of ECFR’s summer series on strategic sovereignty, Mark Leonard talks to Gustav Gressel, Acting Director of the Wider Europe programme and Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR, about hybrid threats. Using Gressel’s recent paper on hybrid threats as a starting point, they discuss all elements of hybrid warfare: from sponsored proxy groups to propaganda war, and from economic pressure to cyber attacks. Importantly, they ask what impact hybrid warfare might have on European sovereignty.

    This podcast was recorded on Friday, 12 July, 2019.

    Picture:
    Cyber warfare specialists serving with the Maryland Air National Guard’s 175th Cyberspace Operations Group engage in weekend training at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Middle River, Md., June 3, 2017. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.
    Public domain. Retrieved from: www.defense.gov/Newsroom/News/Art…-on-capitol-hill/

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    Cover: Meeting the Challenge of Secondary Sanctions

    Meeting the Challenge of Secondary Sanctions

    The second episode of ECFR’s summer series on strategic sovereignty explores the critical challenge that secondary sanctions pose for Europe, due to the Trump administration’s maximalist position on Iran. Joining Mark Leonard for a lively discussion of economic statecraft are Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior policy fellow at ECFR, Henry Farrell, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and Elizabeth Rosenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. They discuss how Europe could reduce its vulnerabilities to U.S. secondary sections, which – in the future - could target countries that are more important to the European economy, such as China and Russia. 

    This podcast was recorded on Tuesday, 23 July 2019.

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  • The makings of a “geopolitical” European Commission (Commentary)

    Mark Leonard - 28 November 2019

    As if incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was not already inheriting a full plate of major challenges, she has also promised to reshape the EU into a “geopolitical” force to be reckoned with. To succeed, she will need to pass seven tests, in areas ranging from climate change to cyber security and competition policy.

    The Lost Promise of 1989 (Commentary)

    Mark Leonard - 19 November 2019

    As is often the case, deep historical shifts tend to show up first in popular culture, and only then in formal politics. That is why we should look at the complex legacy of 1989 not only in the formal celebrations being held in Berlin, but also in the stands of a soccer stadium in Sofia.

    Will the Iran conflict break the West? (Commentary)

    Mark Leonard - 30 August 2019

    After months of both the United States and Iran taking a harder line against each other, Europe finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place. If Iran pursues further brinkmanship in response to US provocation, European Union member states may decide they have no choice but to embrace the Trump administration’s containment strategy.

     
     

    A fistful of dollars: Europe and US sanctions (Commentary)

    Jonathan Hackenbroich & Mark Leonard - 15 August 2019

    The European Union needs an Office for Financial Asset Control to defend its home industry against sanctions

    Can Europe become a global player? (Commentary)

    Mark Leonard - 23 July 2019

    As the nominee to serve as the EU's next high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell will have an opportunity to update Europe's approach to foreign policy. Chief among the challenges facing the bloc is the reassertion of its own sovereignty in an age of great-power politics.

    The case for a sovereign Europe (Commentary)

    Mark Leonard & Jeremy Shapiro - 01 July 2019

    The EU's lack of sovereignty is becoming a threat. Against the Trump administration and in the face of emerging economic and technological markets, the EU risks lagging behind.

    The end of “Chimerica” (Commentary)

    Mark Leonard - 25 June 2019

    By threatening the survival of the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the Trump administration has put an end to speculation about a possible rupture between the United States and China. A full-scale decoupling between the world's two largest economies is now under way, and a new age of zero-sum competition is beginning.

    ECFR mourns the loss of Albert Rohan (Commentary)

    Mark Leonard, Mabel van Oranje - 13 June 2019

    Founding Council Member Albert Rohan has passed away at the age of 83

  • Cover: America’s 1989

    America's 1989

    In the fourth episode on the events of 1989 and how they have shaped and may continue to shape our world in the years to come, host Mark Leonard is joined by Jeremy Shapiro. Jeremy Shapiro is research director here at ECFR, and is able to provide an account of the American experience of 1989, which was much less dramatic than European and Russian collective memories of the event. Nevertheless, 1989 is an interesting jumping-off point for thinking about the lenses of US foreign policy and the foreign enemy paradigm it appears to require. In dialogue with our previous contributors- Timothy Garton Ash and Fyodor Lukyanov- Shapiro analyses the neglect of Russia in American foreign policy thinking and addresses issues such as the rise of China. Did the EU ever really develop a security order accepted by the Russians? What could the US or Europe have done differently in the wake of the Cold War?

    This podcast was recorded on 27 November 2019.

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    Cover: The first beneficiaries of 1989

    The first beneficiaries of 1989

    Host Mark Leonard has an intimate discussion with our heads of offices from Sofia and Warsaw, Vessela Tcherneva and Piotr Buras about their experiences, hopes and dreams during the transition times of the 1990s. How did their life and future change the minute the Berlin Wall fell? What are this generation’s thoughts 30 years later and predications for Europe in the coming 30 years?

    This podcast was recorded on 21 November 2019.

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    Cover: Russia’s 1989

    Russia's 1989

    In the second in our series on the events of 1989 and how they will shape our world for decades to come, host Mark Leonard is joined by Fyodor Lukyanov. Lukyanov is Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and Research Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club. In this podcast, recorded in Dubai, the two discuss America's and Russia's differing views on the Cold War and its end. The trauma of 1989, but also the euphoria it generated in Europe, and Putin's development as a political actor, are set into context. This context allows for a multifaceted understanding of the events of 1989.It also allows the arc of Russian foreign policy to be traced to today, and in doing so provides a useful accompaniment to the Eurocentric 1989 celebrations.

    This podcast was recorded on 4 November 2019.

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    Cover: 1989- the greatest year in European history?

    1989- the greatest year in European history?

    In the first in our mini-series on the events of 1989, host Mark Leonard is joined by very special guest Timothy Garton Ash, historian and Professor of European Studies at Oxford University. This series considers how 1989 and it's events will shape our world in the future. Was 1989 the greatest year in European history? How much of what is going on was a blip? Are we witnessing the decline of liberalism today? Ash provides insights into the course of our political history, but cautions on prescribing a course to our future. The failure to develop solidarity, identity and community as part of the European Union project has led to a hollowing out of European identity. Global challenges and populism put the future of the liberal democratic world into question, unless answers are found.

    This podcast was recorded on 31 October 2019.

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    Cover: After Baghdadi is before Baghdadi: How the West still has to fight ISIS

    After Baghdadi is before Baghdadi: How the West still has to fight ISIS

    How will IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s killing impact ISIS as a terror organisation and the situation in Syria? Host Mark Leonard is joined by Anthony Dworkin and Asli Aydıntaşbaş to analyse the current events and political implications for Syria’s neighbouring countries, the US and the EU. As the European Union has failed to come up with a coherent policy on how to handle their citizens who travelled to join ISIS, they argue it would still be best, to bring them home and to try them there. But how could the EU member states go ahead with the process?

    Further read: "Beyond good and evil: Why Europe should bring ISIS foreign fighters home" by Anthony Dworkin

    The podcast was recorded on 30 October 2019.

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    Cover: How to deal with our Western Balkan neighbours?

    How to deal with our Western Balkan neighbours?

    North Macedonia and Albania wanted to start negotiations with the EU after having been candidate countries since 2005 and 2014. But the enlargement plans seemed to have stalled especially after opposition from France.
    Host Mark Leonard is joined by Susi Dennison, José Ignacio Torreblanca and Vessela Tcherneva to get to the bottom of things and the divisions particularly between France and Germany on this issue.

    The podcast as recorded on 17 October 2019.

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    Cover: Europe with no cards to play: Erdoğan, Trump, and Europe’s weaknesses

    Europe with no cards to play: Erdoğan, Trump, and Europe's weaknesses

    Turkey's offensive into northeast Syria is moving at an unprecedented pace with grave consequences. Europe's utter irrelevance in the face of US withdrawal from the Turkish/Syrian border has been thrown in to stark light, particularly as it fails to take responsibility for European Isis members in the region. Europes weakness on migration and the refugee crisis as a whole has also been highlighted. What can and should Europe do at this crisis point? As events unfold, Asli Aydıntaşbaş, senior policy fellow with the Wider Europe programme joins host Mark Leonard from Turkey. Mark is also joined by head of ECFR's MENA programme, Julien Barnes-Dacey. Jeremy Shapiro, our research director, provides insight into Trump and Erdoğan's relationship breakdown and what US foreign policy under Trump may continue to look like.

    This podcast was recorded on 10 October 2019.

    Bookshelf:
    "The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920" By Eugene Rogan
    "The Noise of Time" by Julien Barnes
    "Chimera" by Alexandros Yannis
    Details of the text message sent by a No.10 source to the Spectator

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    Cover: Reaching out to Russia – joining hands or getting the mitten?

    Reaching out to Russia – joining hands or getting the mitten?

    In this week’s podcast, Mark Leonard, Gustav Gressel and Kadri Liik analyse Macron’s plans and ideas for recreating the European security order, an initiative which he launched with a speech at the Ambassador’s conference this year. Moreover, according to French officials, France will instead of starting with a top-down plan, try to build European security from the bottom-up and see if there is a desire in Moscow to make progress on specific issues, one brick at a time. They have laid out a roadmap with five different areas: Disarmament, security dialogue, crisis management, values, and common projects.
    Further read: “Emmanuel Macron’s very big idea on Russia” by Gustav Gressel, Kadri Liik, Jeremy Shapiro & Tara Varma

    The podcast was recorded on 30 September 2019.

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Contact

Email: [email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)20 7227 6869

@markhleonard on Twitter

Mark Leonard on Twitter