Europe’s strategic choices 2023

The 2023 conference, taking place in Berlin, aims to understand the complex set of challenges facing Europe in security, economic competitiveness, trade, technology and global influence.

Special event
27 November 2023 TO 28 November 2023 — 8:00AM TO 5:00PM
Europe Strategic Choices Conference Background Image

The ninth Europe’s strategic choices conference, jointly developed and hosted by Chatham House, the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK) 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.

This year’s conference takes place against the backdrop of Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine, a rise in geopolitical competition and pressure on European economies in the face of high living costs and inflation. The conference will ignite new ideas on how European countries can best respond to common challenges to strengthen peace, stability, and economic security, alongside the need to de-risk and rethink international cooperation, in a 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. Plenary sessions will be available to all participants, while breakout sessions will be in-person only.

This event will be taking place at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Berlin.

Who attends


Monday 27 November (All timings are in CET and subject to change)

Registration and refreshments


Welcome remarks from Chatham House, ISPK and KAS

Dr Peter Fischer-Bollin
, Head of the Analysis and Consulting Division, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
Dr Sarah Kirchberger, Academic Director, Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK)
Bronwen Maddox, Chief Executive and Director, Chatham House


Plenary Session One | Ukraine and the future for European defence

Can Europe’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine deliver lasting change in its ability to defend itself? What are Europe’s strategic goals concerning Ukraine? How might Ukraine’s post-war integration into the EU and NATO impact on European defence?

What lessons can be drawn from the Nordic Defence Cooperation between Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark to enhance European defence cooperation more widely?

Major General André Erich Denk
, Deputy Chief Executive, European Defence Agency
Prof. Dr. Joachim Krause, Director Emeritus, ISPK
Ambassador Natalie Sabanadze, Senior Research Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House 
Kai Sauer, Ambassador of Finland in Germany 

Chair: Bronwen Maddox, Director and Chief Executive, Chatham House


Networking break


Plenary Session Two | Europe’s political, economic and security future order: Is EU enlargement the answer?

How can we minimise the threat that the Russian state poses to the territorial integrity of neighbouring countries? Beyond enlargement, what other choices exist to safeguard future European security against the influence of Russia and China?

Would Europe be able to hold together its current governability and values, or are reforms needed to facilitate enlargement? What role for the UK in this changing order and what would be the consequences of not having the Western Balkan states on Europe’s side?

Madeline Knox
, Head, Western Balkans Department, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, United Kingdom
Tilman Kuban, Member of the Committee on European Union Affairs, German Bundestag
​​​​​​​Christian Schmidt, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (virtual)
Nemanja Starović, State Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Republic of Serbia

John Kampfner
, British author, broadcaster and commentator 


Breakout sessions | Round 1

Session A | Turkey’s role in Europe

  • Does Turkey represent an obstacle for NATO enlargement? How can Turkey’s expectations be addressed?  

  • To what extent can it be considered a reliable partner, given its relations with Russia and China?  

  • What is Turkey’s role in managing the migration and the refugee crisis? 

Hüseyin Bağcı
, President, Foreign Policy Institute; Professor and Chair, Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University
Kristin Fabbe, Professor, School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute (virtual)
Galip Dalay, Consulting Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House
Chair: Hürcan Aslı Aksoy, Head, Centre for Applied Turkey Studies, The German Institute for International and Security Affairs

Session B | China’s military build-up: A challenge for Europe?

  • How can Europe respond to an increasing Chinese military footprint in Europe’s vicinity?

  • How can Europe arrive at a coherent Indo-Pacific strategy?

  • What risks for Europe does an arms race in the Indo-Pacific pose?

Rear Admiral Jürgen Ehle, Senior Military Advisor to Managing Director Peace, Security and Defence, European External Action Service (EEAS)
Sidharth Kaushal, Research Fellow, Sea Power, RUSI
Alessio Patalano, Professor, War & Strategy in East Asia, King’s College London (virtual)
Chair: Sarah Kirchberger, Academic Director, Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK)

Session C | Iran and Russia: An Axis of revisionist powers?

  • What steps need to be taken to counter the growing strategic cooperation between Iran and Russia?

  • Could the emerging Iran, Russia, and China triangle become one of the greatest threats to peace in the Middle East and Europe?

  • How should conflict management and de-escalation efforts seek to address Iran’s regionally destabilizing role?

Nikolay Kozhanov
, Research Associate Professor, Gulf Studies Center, Qatar University; Consulting Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
Ambassador Andreas Reinicke, Director, German Orient Institute; EU Special Representative for The Middle East Peace Process (2012-13)
Malka Rozin-Aharonson, CoS, Merit Spread Foundation
Dr Sanam Vakil, Director, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House  
Chair: Rana Rahimpour, Former Lead Journalist, BBC World Service (2008-2023)


Networking lunch


Plenary Session Three | The EU and UK role in the Israeli Palestinian process

Julie Norman
, Associate Professor (Teaching), Politics and International Relations, University College London
Guido Steinberg, Senior Fellow, Africa and the Middle East, The German Institute for International and Security Affairs
Joost Hiltermann, Program Director, Middle East and North Africa, Crisis Group
Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff, Israeli Ambassador to Germany (2017-2021)

Canan Atilgan, Head, Department of Middle East and North Africa, KAS


In conversation | Wolfgang Schmidt

Wolfgang Schmidt
, Head of the German Federal Chancellery and Federal Minster for Special Tasks; Commissioner for the Federal Intelligence Services, Germany
Chair: Bronwen Maddox, Director and Chief Executive, Chatham House


Networking break


Plenary Session Four | A forward look at the transatlantic relationship

How would a Republican administration reshape transatlantic relations? Where does Europe’s strategy differ from the US, for example in the Indo-Pacific? Can Europe offer aspects of deterrence complementary to the US in potential conflict zones?

Will NATO enlargement and a greater Polish/Baltic/Nordic focus within NATO result in greater transatlantic alignment?

Cathryn Cluver Ashbrook, Executive Vice President/Senior Advisor, Bertelsmann Foundation
Dr Norbert Röttgen, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, German Bundestag; Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (2009-12)
Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Director, US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House
Chair: Steven Erlanger, Chief Diplomatic Correspondent in Europe, The New York Times


Plenary Session Five | Europe’s relationship with China

To what extent are European powers converging or diverging on China relations? How far can China’s peace plan for reaching a settlement in Ukraine go? What will the trajectory of US politics post the 2024 Presidential election mean for Europe’s relations with China?

What would a de-risking, rather than a de-coupling, trade strategy from the Chinese economy look like in practice?

Yu Jie, Senior Research Fellow on China, Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House
Maria Martin-Prat De Abreu, Deputy-Director General, DG Trade, European Union (virtual)
Nils Schmid, Member, German Bundestag; Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs for the Parliamentary Group of the German Social Democratic Party
Nicolas Zippelius MdB, Member, German Bundestag

Christian Echle
, Head, Asia and Pacific Department, KAS  


End of day one


Tuesday 28 November (All timings are in CET and subject to change)

Registration and refreshments


Plenary Session Six | Europe’s next strategic choice: A future shaped by technology

How is technology reshaping the global order? Which nations and actors will emerge victorious, and at what cost? Is Europe’s response to the US-China strategic technology competition adequate?

What strategies and policies can middle powers such as UK, India, Brazil, Japan etc. adopt? What choices does the West need to confront about the defence implications of AI and its technology influence?

Sarah Kirchberger, Academic Director, Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK)
André Loesekrug-Pietri, President & Scientific Director, Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI)
Didi Kirsten Tatlow, Senior Reporter, Newsweek
Bryan Wells, Chief Scientist, NATO

Alex Krasodomski
, Senior Research Associate, Digital Society Initiative, Chatham House


Networking break


Breakout sessions | Round 2

Session A | Which countries are best placed to lead on AI governance and regulation globally?

  • Who are the most important international partners in developing an AI regulatory framework?

  • Can AI be governed by companies, individual countries or communities, or is a global framework the only way forward?

  • How can countries be better prepared for the changes that such technologies will bring?

Mark Brakel
, Director of Policy, Future of Life Institute
Inma Martinez, Elected Chair of the Multi-stakeholder Expert Group and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee, GPAI
Thomas Schneider, Chair, Council of Europe’s Committee on Artificial Intelligence
Imran Shafi OBE, Director of AI Policy, Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, UK Government
Dragoș Tudorache, Member of the European Parliament and co-rapporteur of the European Parliament for the AI Act (virtual)
Chair: Georgios Kolliarakis, Senior Research Fellow, DGAP

Session B | Weaponisation of information

  • How are hostile actors using disinformation campaigns to achieve their goals?

  • How can Central and Eastern European countries caught in the cross hairs be better protected?

  • What can be done to mitigate the impact of information operations intended to damage confidence in state institutions and multilateral organizations such as the EU and NATO?

  • Are the private platforms facilitating disinformation effective stewards of the digital space?

Simona Cojocaru, State Secretary for Defence Policy, Planning and International Relations, Romania
Jakub Kalensky, Deputy Director, COI Hybrid Influence, The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats
Tamar Kintsurashvili, Executive Director, Media Development Foundation
Nino Macharashvili, Co-Founder & Director, ForSet
Stanislav Secrieru, Adviser to the President of the Republic of Moldova on Defense and National Security Secretary of Supreme Security Council

Session C | Europe and Israel: Strengthening strategic defence technology relations  

  • In what way is Israel positioned to contribute to Europe’s security?   
  • Where do opportunities lie for cooperation in the air defence realm, including and beyond the European Sky Shield Initiative? 
  • What next for German-Israeli cooperation in the area of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)? 

Shlomo Shpiro
, Paterson Chair in Security and Intelligence
Falko Droßmann MdB, Member, Defence Committee, SPD
Chair: Carsten Ovens, CEO, ELNET-Germany


Closing Dialogue | Ushering in a new era for Europe’s economic security

What new alliances might emerge to strengthen national security, reduce economic dependencies and facilitate the development of critical technologies? Can a competitive Europe that champions an open, rules-based international trade truly be maintained in the global shift towards more protectionist and industrial policies?

What steps need to be taken to protect strategic and sensitive supply chains? What version of Europe will emerge in next 5 – 10 years and does a role exist for the UK to forge more strategic economic ties with Europe in the process?

Jörn Fleck
, Senior Director, Europe Center, Transform Europe Initiative, Atlantic Council 
Tobias Gehrke, Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations (virtual)
Philippa Makepeace, Director, Department for Business and Trade, UK Government
David Rader, International Strategy Forum Fellow, Schmidt Futures (virtually)

Chair: Dr Jan Cernicky, Head, Economy and Innovation Department, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung


Closing remarks



Networking lunch


Close of conference




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