The European Group
The framework of the Trilateral European group is the European Union (formerly the European Community). Thus the country coverage of the Trilateral European group has grown as the European Community enlarged itself to new member countries. The Trilateral Commission was launched in mid-1973, shortly after the enlargement which brought Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Ireland into the European Community. Spanish and Portuguese groups were formed in the late 1970s, looking toward the entry of Spain and Portugal into the European Community. In more recent years, Austrian, Swedish and Finnish groups have been formed in advance of the entry of these countries into European Union.
A Greek group was added. Several additional national groups were formed as the European Union was enlarged to Central and Eastern Europe. The one non-EU country represented in the Trilateral European group is Norway. The consultations that went into the formation of the Trilateral Commission took place before the 1972 referendum which unexpectedly went against Norway joining the European Community. The European Group was enlarged to Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus in 1998 and to Bulgaria and Romania in 2004. Croatia joined in 2012 and Serbia in 2013, Slovakia and Switzerland in 2018.
The 175-member ceiling for the European group is divided into national quotas. Germany has a quota of 22; France, Italy, and the United Kingdom each have a quota of 18; and Spain has a quota of 12. The remaining national quotas range from 6 to 1.
The emphasis given to a unifying Europe playing a larger role on the global stage makes it therefore important for the European group to meet on its own as well as with North American and Asian colleagues. The group meets once a year in autumn: Prague (2002), Porto (2003), Berlin (2004), Madrid (2005), Turin (2006), Vienna (2007), Paris during France’s EU Presidency (2008), Oslo (2009), Bucharest (2010), The Hague (2011), Helsinki (2012), Krakow (2013) and Belgrade (2014), Copenhagen (2015), Lisbon (2017), Ljubljana (2018), Stockholm (2019). The 2020 meeting will be held in Prague.
Beyond their “Trilateral” engagement, European members are also committed to the pursuit of the European unification process. The idea of a unifying Europe playing a larger role on the global stage has been a driving idea in the Trilateral Commission from the beginning. Several of the leaders of the Trilateral European group worked closely with Jean Monnet and have had prominent roles in the building of Europe, including Max Kohnstamm (European chairman, 1973-76), Georges Berthoin (European chairman, 1976-92), and François Duchene (European deputy chairman, 1974-76). Other former European deputy chairmen include Egidio Ortona and Garret FitzGerald.
Mario Monti was sworn in as the president of the Italian Council of Ministers on November 16, 2011, leading to his resignation as European chairman of the Trilateral Commission. He was succeeded in 2012 by Jean-Claude Trichet, chairman of the Group of Thirty and former president of the European Central Bank. Carl Bildt and Alexandra Papalexoulou now serve as the Commission’s European deputy chairmen.