The Club of Three was set up by Lord Weidenfeld of Chelsea in the mid-1990s, when a group of leading figures from business and politics, the media and academia, decided to get together and meet regularly to establish a long term dialogue between France, the UK and Germany outside of official circles.
George Weidenfeld’s initial observation, which remains highly relevant today, was that the European orchestra was playing out of tune and that greater collaboration between the three main powers was desperately needed to provide leadership. France and Germany already had a long history of working together on the basis of their common political will, and Franco-British cooperation in Bosnia had shown how much influence they could exert when they join forces. But the net effect of the Three’s very different diplomatic approaches in Bosnia had been disastrous. There was an urgent need to consider in a hard-headed way how we could build better on the many areas of common interest we shared.
Initially starting with a series of Plenary meetings which alternated between Berlin, London and Paris, the Club of Three has gone on over the years to hold many special sessions and workshops on a multitude of topics ranging from European enlargement, defence and welfare to foreign affairs and economic reforms.
In the 2000s, the Club of Three expanded its activities beyond the Franco-British-German axis to engage with other key regions of Europe and global economic partners such as Russia, the US and China.
Launched in 2001, the AMEURUS programme for example aimed to facilitate the normalisation of diplomatic, economic and cultural relations through high-level dialogue between America, Europe and Russia. Past AMEURUS events included meetings in Washington, Frankfurt, Paris, London and Moscow, the latter addressed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Other projects include a ‘Club of Three and America’ Plenary meeting at the Quai d’Orsay in Paris in 2009 hosted by then Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner, the ‘Club of Three and China’ initiative and the US-Europe-Turkey Task Force conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.