Think tank to move operations from London over Brexit – POLITICO.eu

Think tank to move operations from London over Brexit – POLITICO.eu

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Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem gives a press conference at a meeting of the European Council on Foreign Relations in The Hague, on June 28, 2016 | Baart Maat/AFP via Getty Images

Think tank to move operations from London over Brexit

Having largest office in London not the right thing for a pan-European firm, says European Council on Foreign Relations boss.

By

6/30/17, 4:34 PM CET

The European Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, is scaling back its operations in London as being in the U.K. is no longer “appropriate” because of Brexit, its boss said.

The think tank’s co-chairman, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, announced the decision earlier this week after a staff meeting in the German capital, and it was confirmed by Mark Leonard, the think tank’s director, on Friday.

Although the ECFR does not have an official headquarters, its largest office is in London, which Leonard said “wasn’t appropriate in a Brexit environment.”

Instead, the think tank’s senior management team will be split between Berlin and London, it will move to a smaller office in the British capital, and focus on boosting its offices in Paris and Berlin.

The ECFR, founded in 2007, provides what it calls a “pan-European perspective” on foreign relations and has offices across the Continent, including in Madrid, Warsaw and Sofia. It focuses on common European policy toward China and the Middle East, as well as on “European power.”

“After Brexit and Trump, we realized national politics is becoming more and more important,” Leonard said, citing that as a reason why he didn’t choose Brussels as an alternative to London.

In addition to Brexit, the think tank is also moving because of “the belief that Germany will serve even more as a pivot in European foreign and security policy,” the ECFR said in a statement Friday.

Leonard — who was born in the U.K. and has German ancestry — said he was applying for a German passport.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who spoke at the staff meeting, was unsurprisingly pleased.

“Thanks to your activities, Berlin is becoming more and more a vibrant hub of intellectual debate on international affairs and security policy,” Gabriel said.

 

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