Who we are
The Club of Three is a Franco-German-British leadership initiative, convening senior figures from business, politics, the media and academia. It provides an informal platform for cross-sector thinking on the major challenges that Europe faces. It also offers a mechanism to pursue a more strategic European approach to addressing these issues, and contributes to strengthening mutual understandings and nurturing critical relationships both within Europe and with key global players such as China and the US.
What we do
The Club of Three organises a range of high level meetings on an annual basis. These vary in size, format and focus and take place in different European capitals. Each year, we run a core programme which consists of a Plenary meeting, a Working Session and a number of more informal ‘fireside chat’ meetings, thanks to the support of a number of partner organisations.
Our meetings are designed to foster open discussions on the threats, opportunities and major issues of our time, and to encourage the exchange of new ideas at the highest levels. Most meetings take a critical view of the three countries’ success in dealing with the major geo-strategic, economic and social issues of the day. Past events, such as the 2013 Plenary meeting in London during which the then UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered the opening speech, have addressed shifts in global economic power, challenges to the social compact in Europe and regulatory frameworks in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The 2015 plenary, held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and two other meetings in the first half of 2016 were dedicated to the topic of Britain’s EU membership. The 2016 plenary, at Spencer House in London, explored the lessons to be learnt from the UK’s Brexit referendum and the scope for the future collaboration between France, Germany, Britain and the rest of Europe.
“In my meetings with people, I recognised that something was not working, that the UK, France and Germany were not coming together. I said to myself, we want to create something like a diagnostic group that would convene and ask, ‘What is going on here?’ And it was a great success. Meetings took place between politicians, business people, academics, and journalists from the three leading European nations, working together to develop a better understanding of key European issues.”
George Weidenfeld, Founder of the Club of Three
Our Fireside Chats tend to be small gatherings with a high profile speaker focusing on just one or two specific and very topical issues. Recent keynote speakers include former Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Radosław Sikorski, former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and the chairman of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, Norbert Röttgen.
The Club of Three also functions as a European ‘contact group’ engaging key strategic global partners. In 2010, the ‘Club of Three and China’ initiative was launched with a meeting in Berlin with senior Chinese officials. This was followed up with a return trip to Beijing in 2012, where the European delegation was received by then Vice Premier Wang Qishan. Two high level meetings on Europe and Turkey were organised in 2014 and 2015, including a Working Session in Istanbul during which Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoglu delivered the opening speech.
In 2016, the Club of Three’s focus turned to Russia. A meeting was held in Berlin in partnership with the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft to take a fresh look at Europe-Russia relations at a time of political tension and economic sanctions with a group of senior Russian figures from business and politics.
The 2017 and 2018 Plenaries focused on the transatlantic relationship and discussed the role that ‘the Three’ and America could play together in the world.
Chatham House Rule
Our meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, which contributes to the Club of Three’s reputation as a ‘safe space’ for debating the biggest challenges in Europe and beyond. The discreet, open and trusting environment that these meetings provide play an important part in the high quality of Club of Three discussions and speakers, and the impact that they have on the individuals taking part.
We do however publish external reports highlighting the main conclusions of some of our largest meetings and made available to the public, and participants from the media often publish articles directly inspired from Club of Three meetings.