European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Founded2007 by Martti Ahtisaari (Finland), Joschka Fischer (Germany), and Mabel van Oranje (Holland) “with initial funding from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Communitas Foundation,” and other private foundations.
In their own words“Inspired by the role American think tanks played in helping the US move from isolationism to global leadership, ECFR’s founders set about creating a pan-European institution that could combine establishment credibility with intellectual insurgency.”



BDS Activities

  • Two ECFR researchers, Mattia Toaldo and Hugh Lovatt, write extensively on what they call the “differentiation” policy. In “EU Differentiation and Israeli settlements” (July 22, 2015) ECFR calls for sanctions against Israeli entities (and certain individuals) that have activities in or apparent financial contacts with Israeli settlements, claiming that this does not constitute BDS. The report lays the responsibility for failure to reach peace solely on Israel, ignoring Palestinian violence, incitement, and rejectionism. According to Toaldo and Lovatt, the EU should extend this policy to the business and sports sectors. They argue that these forms of “differentiation” reflect EU policy, whereas, in reality, the issue was specifically negotiated between Israeli and European senior officials (after the release of the EU’s “Guidelines” in 2013), and the EU clearly stated that it was not considering ECFR’s approach.
  • On July 26, 2017, ECFR published a report, “Rethinking Oslo: How Europe can promote peace in Israel-Palestine,” authored by Hugh Lovatt and Omar Dajani, calling for “Deepening and broadening differentiation” as well as for “Imposing targeted sanctions upon persons or entities providing support to or benefitting from Israel’s unlawful practices in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories], including its illegal annexation of Palestinian territory” (emphasis added).
  • In June 2016, Hugh Lovatt, along with Martin Konecny from the European Middle East Project(EuMEP), endorsed sanctions against Israel, calling on FIFA “to exclude settlement clubs from the Israeli Football Association,” as part of a broader campaign against Israel initiated by several pro-BDS groups.” Lovatt stated that a ban would send a “very strong message” to Israel that it “cannot use football teams as a political tool to try to impose acceptance of its occupation.”
  • In May 2015, Toaldo and Lovatt published “How to Revive EU Policy on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” claiming that Israelis should be confronted with a future without European support since, according to the authors, progress in the peace process “depends…on Israel.” The report implies that only through sanctions on Israel can the peace process be resolved and presents the Palestinians as passive actors.
  • In November 2015, Hugh Lovatt called for additional measures to punish and impose “real financial consequences for average Israelis who remain ambivalent about Israel’s settlement project.”
  • In September 2015, Hugh Lovatt participated in a session by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People titled, “International Meeting on the Question of Palestine: Israeli Settlements as an Obstacle to Peace – Possible Ways Forward.” The session focused on “the role of the international community, including regional organizations” and the “import of goods produced in Israeli settlements and EU guidelines.”

ECFR-MENA Employees

2014-16 Funding (partial list; amounts in UK pounds)

Donor 201620152014
Austrian MFA14,16149,190
Danish MFA108,22398,37319,695
UK Department for International Development (DFID)162,627
Dutch MFA79,57645,55815,441
European Commission8,337
Finnish MFA20,12010,795
Foundation for Open Society53,85814,689
Open Society Foundations21,3942,659,8402,423,965
German MFA94,32944,444
Norwegian MFA210,738313,183333,470
Portuguese MFA3,3903,623
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)378,697304,866353,711
European Endowment for Democracy (European Union)11,440
Italian MFA21,912
Royal Norwegian Embassy in Beijing28,22430,11856,576
Japanese MFA140,980
Robert Bosch Stiftung134,327156,067144,479
Skoll Global Threats Fund72,225
Stiftung Mercator (Germany)719,404169,30227,966
Compagnia di San Paolo (Italy)162,11440,00042,017

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