The European-Atlantic Group, a non-aligned, all party, registered charity founded in 1954, is renowned as one of the foremost platforms for high level interaction in the field of international relations.
European-Atlantic Group (E-AG) dinner - and luncheon - debates are a fixture in the London social scene. The intractability of some issues has been no bar to civilised and perceptive discussions in surroundings such as the Palace of Westminster, premier London clubs and, on occasion, with banquets at Guildhall
and the Banqueting House.
There is a variety of fayre on offer for a group whose thousand members include diplomats, parliamentarians, captains of industry and the informed and interested public. Few matters of moment in Europe or America can remain untouched by the wider world of politics and countries such as Afghanistan, Burma, China and Nigeria have lately been the subjects of far reaching group debate and analysis. The list of E-AG speakers recently has been graced by senior royalty, the former presidents of Lithuania and Zambia, all successive ambassadors of America, China and Russia, ministers of state, shadow ministers, the head of MI5, and the heads of our armed forces… At one event, twenty former members of Congress spoke in Parliament to the E-AG. Sir Christopher Gent of Vodafone fame and Hugo Dixon of Breakingviews.com, which has articles heavily syndicated throughout Europe, were forthright on the economy and signposted how the UK economy should recover even before the words ‘credit’ and ‘crunch’ were linked in un-heavenly embrace. John Lloyd spoke at a conference on Freedom of expression and the media. Events are held almost monthly.
A focus of the E-AG is on advocating solutions to global problems, where this falls within its reach, and not just in their exposition. These can be reflected in E-AG discussions, the E-AG journal or in E-AG papers. Texts of speeches – and debates when ‘on-the-record’ – on the website are a valuable tool for practitioners and students. Delegations have represented the group in Brussels and Washington. An annual book prize in the name of the late Hon Director, Elma Dangerfield CBE, has provided useful footnotes to recent history, as does our affiliate publishing arm, New European Publications. The newsletter furthers a sense of community and continuity in the group.
The E-AG was the brainchild of Mrs Dangerfield, a lady so redoubtable that her obituary in The Times in 2003 could describe her as taking ‘No’ for an answer only when it issued from her own lips! Many have been the personalities who forged the group in the mould it enjoys today. The founders, including The Rt Hon Lord Abinger and The Lord Layton CH CBE, saw in it a means of facilitating contacts between Congressmen and Senators visiting the UK and the Council of Europe.
The roster of E-AG Presidents have included The Lord Layton CH CBE, The Rt Hon Earl of Listowel, Sir Geoffrey de Freitas KCMG MP and, since the 1990s, The Earl of Bessborough DL, Sir Frank Roberts GCMG GCVO, The Rt Hon Lord Rippon of Hexham QC, The Lord Dahrendorf, Lord Judd, The Earl of Limerick KBE, The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein CMG CBE, Sir Michael Burton KCVO CMG, The Baroness Hooper CMG, Lord Dykes and the Rt Hon Baroness Symons of Vernam Dean.
The future might be our oyster but such pearls as may be nurtured depend on the support of those who actively care – perspectives can vary – about issues such as sustainable development and ecology or Europe or our relationship with America, and the plethora of challenges confronting all of us. The E-AG is ‘broad church’ but some members may feel it more important that the interested public has a say in the conduct of political affairs rather than the uninterested public having a vote. The speaking of truth to power would be one of the ultimate hopes of the E-AG.
We welcome – more than welcome – everyone who can contribute to and help with our work.