About us

Our Team & Governance

Board of Trustees

Giles Merritt
Giles Merritt

Founder and Chairman, Friends of Europe

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Giles Merritt founded Friends of Europe in 1999, and its policy journal Europe’s World in 2005. His career as a journalist spanned 15 years as a Financial Times foreign correspondent, the last five as Brussels Correspondent, and 25 years as a contributor of Op-Ed columns to the International Herald Tribune on European political and economic issues. In 2010 he was named by the Financial Times as one of 30 ‘Eurostars’ who most influence thinking on Europe’s future. His latest book is “Slippery Slope: Europe’s Troubled Future” (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Etienne Davignon
Etienne Davignon

President of Friends of Europe

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Etienne (Stevy) is one of the few statesmen in Europe who has been actively involved in EU affairs from the beginning, from his early role as Chief of Staff to Paul-Henri Spaak to today. He has held high-level positions in both the public and private sectors, including as Vice-President of the European Commission, President of the Société Générale de Belgique, first President of the International Energy Agency and through various board mandates.

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Joaquín Almunia

Visiting Professor at LSE and Sciences Po Paris and Vice-President of the European Commission (2010-2014)

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Joaquín Almunia is Visiting Professor at LSE and Sciences Po Paris and an experienced politician who was responsible for competition policy at the European Commission. From 2010 to 2014, he has led the efforts to control the state aid granted to banks during the crisis and ensure fair competition between businesses and companies. Prior to that, he was responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs during European Commission President Barroso’s previous mandate.

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László Andor

Secretary-General of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), Visiting Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Senior Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance, and former EU commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion (2010-4)

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László Andor is a Hungarian economist and politician. He currently holds the position of Head of Department of Economic Policy at Corvinus University in Budapest and is a Senior Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He was also European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion during José Manuel Barroso second term. Before his time as Commissioner, he was a Member of the Board of Directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), representing the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia.

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Michel Barnier

European Commission lead Brexit negotiator and European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services (2010-2014)

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Michel Barnier is a French politician with a particular expertise in security and defence policy. He currently serves as the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator. Previously, he was elected as Member of the European Parliament and the President of the French Delegation of the EPP. Afterwards, he worked as European Commissioner and then Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Internal Market and Services.

Xavier Bettel
Xavier Bettel

Prime Minister of Luxembourg

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Xavier Bettel is a Luxembourgish politician and lawyer who serves as the 24th Prime Minister of Luxembourg after succeeding Jean-Claude Juncker. Before becoming Prime Minister, he has held posts as Mayor of Luxembourg City, Member of the Chamber of Deputies and Member of the Luxembourg City communal council. Parallel to the beginnings of his political career, he has also practised as a lawyer, having studied, amongst others, Public and European Law.

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Carl Bildt

Co-Chair European Council on Foreign Relations, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs (2006-2014) and former Swedish Prime Minister

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A renowned international diplomat, Carl Bildt led the Swedish government that negotiated and signed Sweden’s accession to the EU and modernised its welfare system. He later served as Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs and was one of the initiators of the EU’s Easter Partnership and of EU engagement in the Middle East. Most recently, he chaired the Global Commission on Internet Governance that produced original research and recommendations on topics such as cyber security, internet freedom and the dark web.

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Joachim Bitterlich

Professor at ESCP Europe and Diplomatic Advisor to Helmut Kohl (1987-1998)

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Joachim Bitterlich is a lawyer and former German diplomat. He was adviser to Helmut Kohl, first for European politics and then leading the Department for Foreign, Development and Security Policy at the Federal Chancellery. Throughout his diplomatic career, he served in Algeria, Spain and as the German Ambassador to NATO. With his extensive experience on China, Bitterlich is also Vice-President of the Comité France-Chine, Member of the China Advisory Council and was the first European to be invited to take part in the annual Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in 2001. Currently, he works as a professor at ESCP Europe in Paris.

Franziska Katharina Brantner
Franziska Katharina Brantner

Member of the German Bundestag and Member of the European Parliament (2009-2013), 2012 European Young Leader

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Franziska Katharina Brantner is a German politician. Since 2013, she has been Member of the German Parliament for the Green Party where she has served as Chairwoman of the parliamentary Sub-Committee for Civilian Crisis Prevention and as member of the Committee on Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Previously, she was a Member of the European Parliament where she worked, amongst others, on foreign affairs, security and defence issues. As such, she was member of the Peace and Security Commission of the Green national party and one of the authors of the party’s manifesto for the European election in 2009.

Elmar Brok
Elmar Brok

Member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs

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Elmar Brok has been a Member of the European Parliament since 1980, best known for his role as chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs from 1999 to 2007. Brok has held many leadership positions in German and European politics. As a member of the Convention on the Constitution for Europe and in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Brok is widely credited with contributing crucially to the Constitution of the European Union. He is currently the President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF).

John Bruton
John Bruton

Advisor to Fair Observer and Prime Minister of Ireland’s Rainbow Coalition government (1994-1997)

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John Bruton is an Irish politician and former Taoiseach who played a pivotal role in developing Ireland’s relations with the European Union. During his tenure, Ireland held the Presidency of the European Union and was instrumental in finalising the Stability and Growth Pact. After a long career in Irish politics with several ministerial posts, he served as the Ambassador of the European Union to the United States and as Vice-President of the European People’s Party (EPP). He currently works as an Advisor to Fair Observer, a nonprofit media organisation.

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Pat Cox

President of Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe and President of the European Parliament (2002-2004)

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Pat Cox is an Irish politician and former television current affairs presenter. During his political career, he served as a Member of the European Parliament for over fifteen years and also as President of the European Parliament. Among other achievements, he received the 2004 Charlemagne Prize for his efforts in the eastward expansion of the European Union. After his tenure as MEP, Cox became President of the European Movement International in Brussels until 2010 and currently serves as the President of the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe in Lausanne.

Robert Cox
Robert Cox

Senior Advisor to the European Community Humanitarian Office (1993-1998) and former European Commission Representative to Turkey

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Robert Cox is a seasoned journalist and senior EU civil servant. After a start in journalism with the “The Economist” in London and later in central Africa, he embarked on a second career with the European Commission. A spell in policy and economics work and international negotiations in the development field was followed by appointment as Head of the European Commission’s Mission in Turkey. On return to Brussels he held senior policy and management posts with the Commission’s information services. After a detachment to Yugoslavia with the EC Monitoring Mission he served as Deputy Head of the new Humanitarian Office ECHO.

Enrique Barón Crespo

President of the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation and European Parliament President (1989-1992)

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Enrique Barón Crespo is a Spanish politician, economist and lawyer. A Member of European Parliament for over twenty years, he served as President of the European Parliament and of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament. Additionally, he chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee and the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament. He is the author of numerous books on a range of global and European issues, which were translated in several other languages.

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Daniel Daianu

President of the Romanian Fiscal Council, former finance minister of Romania, former member of the Board of the National Bank of Romania, former MEP and Trustee at Friends of Europe

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Daniel Daianu has held various positions in the political and economic sphere and has authored several books on European and economic issues. A Romanian politician, author, professor of economics, he currently serves as Member of the Board of the National Bank of Romania. Formerly a Finance Minister of Romania, Daianu was the Chief Economist of the National Bank of Romania and later became Member of the European Parliament.


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Geert Cami

Co-Founder and Secretary-General at Friends of Europe

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Geert Cami co-founded Friends of Europe in 1999 and now mainly deals with the strategic development (from concepts to fundraising and implementation) of our think-tank and its flagship projects. He also focuses on the expansion and the activation of our vast network of senior political, corporate, media and societal contacts throughout the world, and coordinates the work of the Boards involved in the governance of the organisation. Since its launch in February 2019, Geert also runs TownHall Europe, the Davignon Centre for New Leadership, next to the European Parliament in Brussels.

In the nineties, Geert worked for a few years in ECHO at the European Commission, where he helped create and develop the then newly set-up Information and Communications Unit. His focus was mainly on raising the profile of the EU’s humanitarian efforts throughout the world, managing the Information Budget and dealing with outreach through publications and media initiatives such as exhibitions, television debates or Humanitarian Days in Member States.

Geert also headed the European conference organising, press relations and publishing company Forum Europe for more than ten years. At the outset of his career, Geert worked for 2 music programmes at Belgian public Radio 1, and very briefly as a teacher and TV journalist.

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Nathalie Furrer

Director of Programmes & Operations at Friends of Europe

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Nathalie Furrer is the Director of Programmes & Operations at Friends of Europe. Through her leadership, since 2002, the think tank has become the go-to place to connect, debate and change Europe.

She founded its Africa, development, health, climate, energy and sustainability transition policy areas and launched its very successful European Young Leaders programme.

She has been instrumental in developing a multi-stakeholder approach to the work of a think tank and in the organisation’s reach to the non-institutional sector.

In her current role, she works with our talented team, members and partners. Prior to joining Friends of Europe, she worked in an institute for public policy research organising international conferences throughout Europe.

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Shada Islam

Director of Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe

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Shada works on issues related to the future of Europe, minority and integration challenges as well as on Europe’s relations with emerging nations. She set up the Asia Programme for Friends of Europe in 2011 and also leads its work on development issues. She is the former Europe correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and continues to write for leading international publications.

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Dharmendra Kanani

Director of Insights at Friends of Europe

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Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Dharmendra Kanani was director of policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). He was the England director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. Dharmendra has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sector and advisor to numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.

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Adam Nyman

Director of Debating Europe

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Adam is the Director of Friends of Europe’s online citizen-driven discussion platform Debating Europe, which he co-founded in 2011. He has extensive experience in digital media start-ups, including the launch of the Brussels-based newswire service EUPOLITIX.com, which he merged into The Parliament Magazine, where he was the Managing Director. Adam speaks fluent English and Italian.

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Angela Pauly

Head of Communications at Friends of Europe

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Angela is Head of Communications at Friends of Europe. She has over a decade of experience earned on both sides of the Atlantic in agencies, NGOs and associations. She holds an MA in European Studies from the University of British Columbia and a BA from Wellesley College. She is a native English and French speaker and dabbles in Spanish and German.

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Martine Vandeputte

General Manager at Friends of Europe

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As General Manager, Martine runs the day-to-day business of Friends of Europe. She is responsible for People, Organisation, Communications and Administration and leads the Leadership/Management Team.

Before joining Friends of Europe, she held various leading positions in both the private and public sectors and around the world. She has more than 25 years of experience in leading organisations towards their future.She has a proven track record of leading and implementing change, driving business value from alignment, improving people processes and building a performance culture, managing large and complex projects, working and delivering results in multi-cultural environments, and implementing effective communication.

In her leisure time, Martine likes going to the theatre and cultural events. She enjoys travelling and spending time with family and friends and is fluent in Dutch, English, French, Spanish and German.


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Natasha Ibbotson

Senior Manager Membership and Partnerships at Friends of Europe

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As Senior Manager Membership and Partnerships at Friends of Europe, Natasha is responsible for the implementation of several programmes, as well as relations with members and the development of partnership opportunities. She began her career working for a cultural organisation in Berlin before moving to Brussels to work for a grant-making fund and later an international trade association. She holds Master’s degrees in classical languages from the University of Oxford and European Union law from King’s College London.

Transparency Board

Monica Frassoni
Monica Frassoni

Co-President of the European Green Party and Member of the European Parliament (1999-2009)

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Monica Frassoni is an Italian politician who currently surves as the Co-President of the European Green Party. Prior to that, during her time as Member of the European Parliament, she was Co-Chair of the European Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament. Previously she served for ten years as an officer of the Greens group in the European Parliament and was Secretary General of the Young European Federalists. In 2010, she co-founded and is the current President of the European Alliance to Save Energy an organisation which aims to promote and advocate energy savings and a new energy model.

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Jon Worth

Blogger and independent consultant, 2012 European Young Leader

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Jon is a founding partner of techPolitics LLP, a London-based web campaigning and social media agency that has run online campaigns for well-known UK politicians such as Harriet Harman, Diane Abbott and Ken Livingstone. He is best known in the UK for his role running the Atheist Bus Campaign, an online fundraising campaign that emblazoned the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” on 800 buses across the UK in 2009. This action prompted follow up campaigns in ten further countries. He is one of the founders of BloggingPortal.eu, an aggregator of blogs about the European Union, and is a prolific writer on EU affairs on his own blog (jonworth.eu) as well as on UK political blogs such as LabourList and Left Foot Forward. He is a visiting lecturer at Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, and the Graduate Institute of International Affairs, Geneva.


Our revenue

In 2019 Friends of Europe’s total revenue was €3,564,572,69. This money was contributed through participation fees (“memberships”), institutional and governmental subsidies, contributions to costs of events, reports or other projects, and exceptional revenues not linked to our annual work programme.


Types of revenue

  • Membership guarantees participation at all our debates, hard copies of our reports, and finally, networking opportunities. It goes without saying that Friends of Europe does not represent the interests of its members, most of whom in any case have competing or conflicting interests, and in that respect it is worthwhile stating that Friends of Europe members are paying an annual ‘participation fee’ without any other prerogative or role in the governance of Friends of Europe.
  • Project sponsorship provides associated visibility linked to a specific project (such as a report or debate), and a possible speaking slot or op-ed contribution, with overall independence and balance of opinion contractually guaranteed by Friends of Europe.
  • Programme/pillar partnership offers visibility and input into our annual work programme for a specific pillar or programme, again with independence and balance of opinion contractually guaranteed by Friends of Europe.
  • Exceptional revenues (such as compensation of office rent, payment exchanges…)


Revenue breakdown

1. €3.564.572,69 broken down per source of funding as follows:

  • European and international institutions: €581,979 (16%)
  • Diplomatic missions, national, regional and local authorities: €1,638,906 (46%)
  • Corporate sector (companies and trade associations): €678,000 (19%)
  • Private non-corporate (foundations and NGOs): €264,915 (7%)
  • Participation fees (“Membership”): €395,024 (11%)
  • Other revenues: €5,749


Membership guarantees participation at all our debates, copies of our reports, and networking opportunities. Friends of Europe does not represent the interests of its members, who pay an annual ‘participation fee’ without any other prerogative or role in the governance of Friends of Europe.

Membership fees are among the lowest in Brussels so as to stimulate as wide and heterogeneous membership as possible. Memberships are not ‘personal’, so any person employed by a member organisation can attend our debates and receive copies of our major reports.

Basic annual membership fees are as follows:

  • NGOs: €525
  • SMEs, trade associations, chambers of commerce: €998
  • International organisations and diplomatic missions of G20 and European Economic Area (EEA) countries: €998
  • Diplomatic missions of non-G20/EEA countries: €788
  • Regional offices: €788
  • Foundations: €788
  • Corporations: €2,150


For project-related partnerships, Friends of Europe has opted from the beginning for transparent and open communication. All partners are systematically credited on the website and in our reports.

Project-related partners receive two key advantages: visibility in the communications campaign surrounding a debate or a report, and an opportunity to speak at an event or write for a report/publication.

Friends of Europe offers a platform to people from all backgrounds and opinion, including government and institution leaders, NGOs and lobbyists of all shapes and colours, but the editorial independence and the guaranteed balance of discussions are the exclusive responsibility of Friends of Europe, as contractually enshrined.

We write balanced reports or debate programmes, and bring in voices that disagree with one another. It is only by confronting ideas that Europe will find the best solutions for the challenges of our times.

It should be stressed that the objective of Friends of Europe’s activities is to foster discussion and debate among the EU’s leaders and citizens on the issues that shape their future and to debate and circulate useful ideas for a more forward-looking, inclusive and sustainable Europe, not to push any specific political or business interest


For the full details of revenues coming from Friends of Europe’s membership/participation fees, click here.

For the full details of other revenues, click here.

For the full details on Friends of Europe’s registration to the Transparency Register please click here.

The Transparency and Independence Board helps define, refine and verify our credentials in terms of financial transparency and independence.

For the latest declaration of the Transparency and Independence Board, click here


Fundraising guidelines

Financing is an essential part of any organisation’s existence, and Friends of Europe relies on it to be able to ensure the broadest possible platform for debate, reflection and analysis. To uphold our mission as an independent think-tank, we adhere to the following basic principles of independence and transparency.

: Friends of Europe openly credits all partners, and is transparent as to sources of its funding in relation to our various projects. We maintain open and direct visibility for all our partners.

Opposing views
: Friends of Europe maintains partnerships with organisations and governments that clearly have opposing views. Offering a speaking slot to partners does not pose a problem in this respect, on condition that other relevant points of view are equally represented.

Editorial Independence
: Friends of Europe remains at all times independent in its approach to any given policy issue. This principle is also legally enshrined in any contract with a partner: “Editorial and intellectual independence and the balance of events/reports shall at all times remain exclusive responsibility of Friends of Europe.”


Fundraising objectives

Inclusiveness: Friends of Europe’s main objective in fundraising is to finance the widest possible participation in high-quality debates and reports, combining the best available research, facts & figures. We aim to bring together all sides of a debate, and a spectrum of opinion that is as wide as possible. This includes conflicting political opinions, corporate as well as civil society and NGO voices, and a variety of specialists and media from throughout the world.

: Friends of Europe’s activities are backed by our communications powerhouse to seek maximum exposure for its projects and therefore also for its authors, speakers and partners. That communication includes the publication and dissemination of articles and reports on our activities, available to our members and partners, the media and the general public. Adequate funding for this effort is highly important.

: We aim to engage a wider audience beyond the “establishment” and the “Brussels bubble”, in an effort to inform people and fight political apathy and voter absenteeism. This is why we seek to expand paid partnerships across Europe and the world to extend our reach.


Independence and Transparency Board

To ensure the openness and independence of our organisation, Friends of Europe has created a panel of people from various walks of life to consider any potential issues. The board meets at least once a year in Brussels and whenever it is deemed useful.

The Transparency and Independence Board helps define, refine and verify our credentials in terms of financial transparency and independence.

For the latest declaration of the Transparency and Independence Board, click here.

As stated above, Friends of Europe welcomes as wide an array of opinions as possible, and we do not shy away from provocative exchanges between different stakeholders. However, we wish to clarify the following restrictions we have imposed on ourselves:

  1. Representatives from extremist parties which advocate racism, violence, or which have values that go against basic European values as delineated above, are not invited to write in our reports, to speak at our debates or to support our activities financially.
  2. In line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a legally binding international treaty that aims to reduce the damaging health and economic impacts of tobacco consumption, Friends of Europe refrains from working with the tobacco industry.
  3. While arms manufacturers can become members of Friends of Europe, a few limitations do apply. Friends of Europe will not offer them a high profile as partners of projects, nor accept partnership money from the production and sales of arms. As listed in SIPRI’s most recent annual report on arms producing, FOE defines “arms manufacturers” more strictly than SIPRI as any company having more than 50% of its sales coming from the production of arms. (FOE excludes companies only providing consultancy & IT services to intelligence agencies, armed forces or ministries of defence from this definition, such as BAH through whom FOE has received US government funding. SIPRI = Stockholm International Peace Research Institute).
  4. Non-EU countries are eligible partners in an effort to engage in fruitful discussions that may help in certain cases at sharing best practices, or improving democratic and human rights conditions, as long as our intellectual credibility or that of a project are not endangered.
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