Making NGOs AccountableAdvanced Search

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.”



  • Seven branches in Europe with over 50 staff members.
  • ECFR’s Middle East and North Africa program has “sought an invigorated European role in de-escalating crises and driving peace-building solutions in the MENA region during this period of unprecedented turmoil.”

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.
  • 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

  • The ECFR claims that MENA “researchers and analysts, including visiting fellows, has been drawn from government, research, advocacy, and media backgrounds.”
  • Hugh Lovatt, ECFR Programme Coordinator for Israel/Palestine.
  • Dimi Reider Associate Fellow at ECFR, who has promoted a cultural boycott of Israel, is an Israeli co-founder of +972 Magazine, a highly biased online publication that promotes the Durban strategy to demonize and delegitimize Israel.
    • In November 2010, Reider defended his decision to use the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe the situation in Gaza stating “I use ‘ethnic cleansing’ because rounding up a population of a certain ethnic origin and excluding it en masse…is precisely what ethnic cleansing is about. It does not need to involve much bloodshed…Simple ethnic cleansing can deteriorate rapidly into murderous ethnic cleansing…And it would seem that this is the direction in which we are going: The establishment of an amputee Palestinian entity in some areas of the West Bank.”
  • Former MENA programme director Daniel Levy is an activist involved in a variety of political advocacy NGOs and foundations.
  • In an article originally published in Spanish, “Bibi and the Bomb,” another researcher,  Jose Ignacio Torreblanca portrays U.S. support for Israel as the only thing that prevents either peace or Israel’s isolation as an “apartheid” state. The article further asserts that “without the more than 3,000 million dollars that US contributors (including Obama voters) transfer annually for military assistance, the Israelis could not maintain a military advantage over their neighbours.”

2014-15 Funding (partial list; amounts in UK pounds)

Donor 20152014
Austrian MFA14,16149,190
Danish MFA98,37319,695
UK Department for International Development (DFID)162627
Dutch MFA45,55815,441
European Commission8,337
Finnish MFA10,795
Foundation for Open Society14,689
Open Society Foundations2,659,8402,423,965
German MFA44,444
Norwegian MFA313,183333,470
Portuguese MFA3,623
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)304,866353,711
Royal Norwegian Embassy in Beijing30,11856,576
Robert Bosch Stiftung156,067144,479
Skoll Global Threats Fund72,225
Stiftung Mercator (Germany)169,30227,966
Compagnia di San Paolo (Italy)40,00042,017

All Articles about European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)