Europe's strategic choices 2021

The 2021 conference will consider how Europe can navigate its political, economic and security challenges, in the context of the lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic and an increasingly competitive geopolitical environment.

Special event
4 November 2021 TO 5 November 2021 — 8:00AM TO 5:30PM
Ritz Carlton Berlin Ritz Carlton Berlin

The Eighth Annual Europe’s Strategic Choices conference, jointly developed and hosted by Chatham House, the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, aims to understand the complex set of challenges facing Europe in the areas of security, economic competitiveness, trade, technology, and global influence.

Set against the backdrop of a Europe emerging gradually from the COVID-19 pandemic, this annual forum brings together policymakers, and representatives from business, civil society and academia, to explore how European countries can best respond, individually and collectively to their common challenges in an increasingly competitive geopolitical environment.

The conference will be hosted in hybrid format to enable speakers and participants to join in person and allow others to engage virtually via the Conference Plus digital platform. This format ensures we can connect with a geographically diverse audience whilst incorporating important elements of in person engagement in accordance with German Federal government guidelines.


Thursday 4 November (CET – timings subject to change)

Registration and refreshments


Welcome remarks – Chatham House, ISPK and KAS


Opening address

Dr Dietmar Woidke, Minister-President, Brandenburg


Opening dialogue | Election season: Germany, France, and European leadership

The 2021 Federal elections in Germany marked the end of the Merkel era. What will the change in government in Germany mean for the country and for Europe? What can Europe expect from Germany after the election in the areas of economic cooperation, climate action, and foreign, security, and defence policies? Looking further ahead, how will the potential outcomes of the French presidential elections in 2022 shape future Franco-German relations?

Professor Maximilian Terhalle, Visiting Professor, King’s College London
Dr Claudia Major, Head of Research Division, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)
Christine Ockrent, Commentator and Writer, France Culture 

Steven Erlanger, Chief Diplomatic Correspondent Europe, The New York Times


Plenary session one | The transatlantic relationship and Europe’s multilateral future

  • How are geopolitical changes reshaping relations between the US and its European allies?
  • What do recent developments, including the withdrawal of the Western military presence in Afghanistan and the AUKUS security partnership, indicate America’s global role and strategic priorities will be in the coming years? How will this affect Europe’s pathways for co-operation and strategic action?
  • What should be the priorities for transatlantic engagement and a joint agenda for European-US cooperation in the post-pandemic era?
  • Where and when does Europe need to be able to be able to act more autonomously and where should it seek closer co-operation with the US?

Dr Norbert Röttgen MdB, Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee, German Bundestag 
Dr Bruno Tertrais, Deputy Director, Fondation pour la recherche stratégique 
Arancha González Laya, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Spain (2020-21); Executive Director, International Trade Centre (2013-20)
Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Director of the US and the Americas programme and Dean of the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, Chatham House 

Dr Robin Niblett CMG
, Chief Executive and Director, Chatham House 




Breakout sessions | Round one

Session A | Emerging and disruptive technologies in defence 

  • How are new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, quantum technology, robotics, and autonomous systems, changing defence priorities and strategies?
  • Which emerging technologies can provide European and NATO allies with a competitive superiority?
  • How should policymakers view the relationship between emerging technologies and deterrence?

Dr Bryan Wells, Chief Scientist, NATO
Dr Dennis Göge, Vice President for Central and Eastern Europe, Lockheed Martin 
Dr Jörg Au, Engineering Director, Rolls-Royce Deutschland 
Dr Ulrike Franke, Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations 
Giovanni Soccodato, Chief Strategic Equity Officer, Leonardo 
Professor Dr Katarzyna Zysk, Professor of International Relations and Contemporary History, Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies 
Dr Simona R. Soare, Research Fellow for Defence and Military Analysis, International Institute for Strategic Studies

Patrick O’Keeffe, Non-Resident Fellow, Center for Asia-Pacific Strategy and Security, ISPK 

Session B | Europe and the future of crisis management operations

  • What capacities for crisis prevention and management does Europe currently possess?
  • How should Europe aim to support democracy, good governance, human rights, and social and economic development in regions that are experiencing security and humanitarian crises?
  • How does the current state of transatlantic relations and US foreign policy affect Europe’s ability to assert a stabilizing influence in crisis regions?

Dr Kim Eling, Deputy Head of Cabinet, Cabinet of Commissioner Janez Lenarčič, European Commission
Dr Marina Caparini, Senior Researcher and Director of the Governance and Society Programme, SIPRI 
Henning Otte MdB, Member of the German Bundestag for Lower Saxony 
Tobias Pietz, Deputy Head of Analysis, Centre for International Peace Operations (ZIF) 
Stefanie Mavrakou, Policy Officer Civilian Crisis Management, European Centre of Excellence for Civilian Crisis Management

Andrew Gilmour, Executive Director, Berghof Foundation 

Session C | What is Europe’s Russia strategy?

  • Is a cohesive European strategy toward Russia realistically achievable? If not, what’s the next best thing?
  • How can Germany, post-Merkel, right its own ambivalent position toward Russia?
  • How should Europe navigate around Russia’s interests and actions in countries in the Europe-Russia common neighbourhood?
  • What are the prospects for closer European-US alignment in confronting Russia?
  • How should Europe react to domestic discontent among Russians? What are the limits of support?

Dr Iryna Solonenko, Senior Fellow, Zentrum Liberale Moderne
James Nixey, Director, Russia-Eurasia Programme, Chatham House 
Dr Hannes Adomeit, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University
Dr Joris Van Bladel, Associate Fellow, Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy 
Jakob Wöllenstein, Director Office Belarus, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (virtually)

Professor Dr Joachim Krause
, Director, Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University




Plenary session two | COVID-19 and Europe’s economic recovery

  • What does the analysis suggest about the effectiveness of economic, fiscal, and labour market-responses to the pandemic?
  • Will there be a renewal of growth after the COVID-19 crisis?What are the pathways for a stable and long-term post-pandemic recovery for Europe?

Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for Economy (virtually)

Dr Jan Mischke, Partner, McKinsey Global Institute 
Professor Dr Anke Hassel, Professor of Public Policy, Hertie School of Governance; Co-Director, Jacques Delors Centre
Dr Guntram Wolff, Director, Bruegel (virtually)
Chris Barton CMG, HM Trade Commissioner, Europe, Department for International Trade (virtually)

Creon Butler
, Research Director, Trade, Investment and New Governance Models, and Director, Global Economy and Finance Programme, Chatham House 




Breakout sessions | Round two

Session A | Public management of the pandemic: Lessons learned

  • What has the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted about conventional crisis management and the role of the state and national public systems in moments of crisis?
  • What do the various responses and measures to deal with the pandemic suggest about governments’ abilities to manage crises susceptible to uncertainty and misinformation?
  • What are the lessons that need to be learned about social cohesion in the face of a crisis and in terms of strengthening democracies in preparation for future crises?

 Dr Holger Fabig, Deputy Director General, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany
Dr Johanna Schnabel, Lecturer, Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin 
Professor Ronni Gamzu, CEO, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center
Margarita Gomez, Executive Director of the People in Government Lab, Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University (virtually)
Dorothée Allain-Dupré, Head of Division - Regional Development and Multi-level Governance, OECD (virtually)

Dr Steven Blockmans
, Director of Research, CEPS

Session B | Digitalization, cyber security and resilience

  • As governments, the private sector and citizens become increasingly vulnerable to a range of cyber threats, how can collaboration be improved to develop more resilient cyber security strategies?
  • What new cyber threats are likely to emerge as societies and economies continue their digital transformation journey?
  • What should be the role of the private sector and other actors as part of developing these strategies?

Dr Klaus Kremper, CEO, OneFiber Interconnect Germany GmbH 
Iris Plöger, Member of the Executive Board, BDI
Juhan Lepassaar, Executive Director, European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) 
Klara Jordan, Chief Public Policy Officer, CyberPeace Institute (virtually)
Dr Alexander Klimburg, Director, Cyber Policy and Resilience Program, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies

Julia Schuetze, Junior Project Director, International Cyber Security Policy, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung 

Session C | Great power dynamics and the Middle East 

  • How will relations between Israel and Palestine in the Gaza Strip affect Arab–Israeli rapprochement as the Arab signatories of the Abraham Accords face the challenge of how to play a constructive role in the conflict?
  • What will the Israel-Palestine conflict mean for relations between actors in the region and beyond?
  • How can the Biden administration’s developing Middle East policy navigate regional tensions and rising animosities between Saudi Arabia and Iran?
  • How is Europe’s strategic approach towards the Middle East changing?

Frank Müller-Rosentritt MdB, Member of the German Bundestag for Saxony 
Dorothée Schmid, Senior Research Fellow, Head of Turkey and Middle East Program, IFRI 
Moran Stav, Head of European Division, National Security Council, Israel 
Dr Chloe Berger, Faculty Adviser/Researcher, NATO Defense College (virtually)
Cornelius Adebahr, Nonresident Fellow, Carnegie Europe

Carsten Ovens
, Executive Director, ELNET-Germany 




Plenary session three | Future proofing European defence

  • What is the current state of Europe’s military capabilities? How do armed forces in Europe need to be equipped in future?
  • What do informal Indo-Pacific defence alliances and the AUKUS trilateral security pact reveal about the new global strategic context and the strategic landscape for Europe and its defence?
  • How can Europe and its allies coordinate more closely on defence and security matters? How can decisions on national defence expenditure and commitments to increase defence budgets support a more coordinated approach to common security challenges?
  • What should be the priority areas for European defence investment to meet current and future threats?

General Jörg Vollmer
, Commander Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, NATO 
Siemtje Möller MdB, Spokesperson of the Defense Committee, German Bundestag 
Brigadier Jason Rhodes, Defence Attaché, UK Embassy Berlin
Dr Jana Puglierin, Head of Berlin Office, European Council on Foreign Relations
Professor Dr Sven Biscop, Director, Europe in the World, Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations 

Dr Renata Dwan, Deputy Director and Senior Executive Officer, Chatham House


Close of day one


Conference dinner

Keynote Speaker
Dr Christoph Heusgen
, Diplomatic advisor to Chancellor Merkel (2005-2017) and Ambassador of Germany to the United Nations (2017 to 2021)

Introduction by
Dr Gerhard Wahlers, Deputy Secretary General, Department Head, European and International Cooperation, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung


Friday 5 November (CET – timings subject to change)

Registration and refreshments


Plenary session four | Climate action and decarbonizing European economies

  • ​​What is the ‘state of play’ at COP26 and what would constitute a successful outcome?
  • What progress is being made on raising the ambition of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), mobilizing finance and business, and driving the transition to net-zero?
  • How has the pandemic affected Europe’s climate politics?
  • How can the EU build and keep the support and consensus among its members for its Green New Deal?

Dr Daniel Chatterjee
, Director of Technology Management & Regulatory Affairs, Rolls Royce Power Systems
Debora Revoltella, Director of the Economics Department, European Investment Bank (virtually)
Dr Heather Grabbe, Director, Open Society European Policy Institute
Brian Moran, Vice President, Global Sustainability Policy & Partnerships, Boeing

Professor Miranda Schreurs
, Chair of Environmental and Climate Policy, Technical University of Munich 




Breakout sessions | Round three

Session A | Trade in a Multipolar, Post-Pandemic Global Economy

  • To what extent has the COVID-19 pandemic led policymakers and industry to reconsider the balance between globalisation and sovereignty, or openness and protecting industries of strategic importance?
  • How are geopolitical tensions shaping the trading environment for businesses? How can businesses improve resilience to geopolitical shocks?
  • How is US-China strategic competition shaping broader trade relations, including with the UK and EU?
  • Where does Europe fit in this new multipolar global economy?

Marianne Schneider-Petsinger
, Senior Research Fellow, US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House (virtually)
Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Director, DG Trade, European Commission (virtually)
Ilka Hartmann, Managing Director, British Chamber of Commerce in Germany 

Thomas Birringer
, Deputy Head Division Analysis and Consulting, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

Session B | Europe and Post-pandemic Productivity

  • How can European economies adjust to structural changes in labour markets because of the pandemic?
  • As employers make efforts to innovate and adapt, how can the productivity benefits of new ways of working be sustained?
  • What are the changes to business practice needed to ensure a post-pandemic recovery bucks the low productivity trend and addresses the precariousness nature of work for many in the labour market?

Dr Max Neufeind
, Advisor on Strategy and Digital Transformation, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany 
Dan Andrews, Head of the Structural Policy Analysis Division, OECD (virtually)
Dora Meredith, Head of Programmes, The Institute for the Future of Work
Alexander Burstedde, Economist for Supply of Skill Needs, German Economic Institute (virtually)
Rebecca Riley, Director, Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence, Professor of Practice in Economics, King’s Business School, King’s College London (virtually) 

Professor Dr Werner Eichhorst
, Team Leader, Coordinator of Labor Market and Social Policy in Europe, Institute of Labor Economics 




Closing dialogue| A global China in a decoupling world

China’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, relative to other major economies, has intensified conversations around its trajectory to becoming the top global economic power.  At home, China’s government continues to manage a transition to a slower-growth, high tech, consumer-led economy. The government has announced a strategy of ‘dual circulation’, where it will focus on developing China’s domestic market in the context of an uncertain international environment. Other reforms include the liberalisation of its foreign investment regime, while a major focus of its most recent Five-Year Plan is to become a global centre for innovation and technology. 

Meanwhile, Chinese efforts to expand its interests and influence abroad have been met with growing wariness by Europe and other Western states, who view the country not only as a major trading partner but also increasingly as a rival that needs to be managed. Such developments both at home and abroad will have considerable implications for the trajectory of China’s continued rise. This session will analyse the key factors – geopolitical and economic - that will shape the future of Europe/China relations.

Dr Johann Wadephul MdB
, Vice-chairman of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group, German Bundestag 
Dr Yu Jie, Senior Research Fellow on China, Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House
Professor Alexander Stubb, Director, School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, Prime Minister of Finland (2014-15) (virtually)
Dr Joachim Lang, Director General and Member of the Presidential Board Executive Board, BDI
Dr Janka Oertel, Director, Asia programme, European Council on Foreign Relations

Dr Sarah Kirchberger, Head of the Center for Asia-Pacific Strategy & Security, Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University


Closing remarks


Close of conference