The European-Atlantic Group was founded in London in 1954 by Michael John Layton, 2nd Baron Layton (1912–1989) (then a Vice-President of the Council of Europe), together with other members of both Houses of Parliament, Industrialists, Bankers, Economists, and Journalists and Elma Dangerfield. Its object was to promote closer relations between the European and Atlantic countries by providing a regular forum in Britain for discussion of their problems and economic and political co-operation. The Founders stated that their purpose was to disseminate authoritative information concerning the work of International Organizations such as the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Western European Union, Euratom, the European Economic Community, the Association for General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, etc.. The Group held discussions, dinners and meetings in London, usually in Committee Rooms of the House of Commons, on European-Atlantic relations with the rest of the world, including the Middle East, Far East, Africa, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
The EAG Now:
The Trustees of the EAG are The Right Honourable The Lord Hamilton of Epsom, P.C., a former Conservative Armed Forces Minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archie_Hamilton,_Baron_Hamilton_of_Epsom ] and Mr Christopher Arkell. The current Parliamentary sponsor for the EAG’s Westminster meetings is The Right Honourable Tom Brake, M.P., P.C., the Liberal-Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman, Chief Whip, and Shadow Leader of the House of Common.
Charles Bennett, an international affairs and security specialist, previously an Army Officer with extensive experience in Africa and Northern Ireland and a varied career including Northern Irish political research and analysis, work in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, including Election planning and monitoring, took over as Director in 2012. [ https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesanselmbennett/ ]
The EAG has been re-building its Parliamentary links and re-focussing on NATO and related matters, especially as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union, and as always has covered matters of current interest and imminent importance around the world, not just in the ‘European-Atlantic’ area itself. Particular attention is being paid to building connexions with the influential House of Commons Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committees and to developing links with organisations with related interests, including:
The Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies [ https://rusi.org/ ]
The Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies [ http://www.crce.org.uk/ ]
The Military Commentators Circle (Chairman: Major General Julian Thompson, C.B., O.B.E., the Falklands War commander – The EAG’s Director, Charles Bennett, is a member)
The Africa Research Institute [ https://www.africaresearchinstitute.org/newsite/ ]
The Next Century Foundation [ http://www.nextcenturyfoundation.org/ ]
Links are also being developed in the City of London – the EAG has held meetings in the City on relevant matters (most recently on British-Irish relations post-Brexit, addressed by the Irish Ambassador to the UK, who is about to take up the post of Irish Ambassador to the U.S.A., attended by twenty diplomats, the Chairman of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, and four UK Foreign and Home Office representatives) sponsored by Xchanging [http://www.xchanging.com/]. Relations are also maintained with the diplomatic community in London, notably with the U.S., Polish, Lithuanian, Hungarian, and Irish Embassies and the New Zealand High Commission, and with relevant academic institutions including Oxford University (The Director Charles Bennett is a member of the Oxford University Strategic Studies Group) and academics at St Anthony’s College and Pembroke College, King’s College London, The School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), and Buckingham University, as well as with various serving and retired senior Officers of the Armed Forces and M.P.s and Peers.
The European-Atlantic Group – The Future:
The original objectives of the EAG are still valid, but changes in international relations and especially Britain’s departure from the European Union, whilst it remains a key member of NATO in Europe but also looks to the wider world and a renewed independent relationship with the United States of America, the Commonwealth, and other European and global allies, as well as changes in British politics and society and in the wider world, mean that there is an opportunity for the EAG to forge a new role bringing fresh thinking on Britain’s role in NATO, Europe, and the world to Parliament, and bringing together experts from Parliament, Academia, the Armed Forces, diplomacy, the United States, and Commonwealth and other allied countries. The EAG intends to re-focus on NATO, trans-Atlantic – especially US-UK – relations and on defence and security matters, and to position itself as a provider of information and analysis to Parliamentarians and others involved in these fields, as well as contributing to policy debate on Britain’s post-EU role in the Commonwealth and the wider world.
In this context the EAG is aiming to restore its own trans-Atlantic links and to work in co-operation with compatible groups or organisations in the U.S.A. as well as in the U.K.
The EAG website [ www.eag.org.uk ] is currently being updated to reflect the EAG’s revived purpose. There is an EAG group on LinkedIn [ https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2330263 ] and the Director runs or assists with the management of several other LinkedIn groups, including the Defence and Security Analysts Network group, and contributes to many others, and is also active on Twitter with nearly 1,500 followers.