Last updated: March 2015

Origins and Mission

AECA (the American European Community Association) was established in Belgium twenty-five years ago. The association’s mission is to promote and facilitate international cooperation and understanding.

AECA achieves this through its important international forum for high-level dialogue and debate in which key current economic, political and social issues are examined and discussed by senior members of the international business, political, government, diplomatic, civic and academic communities. The scope of interest of the association extends to the global context, including the BRIC countries.

AECA’s programme of high-level round-tables provides opportunities for leaders to meet with their peers and to share their ideas, experience and vision, towards constructive and tangible outcomes.

The association was founded in the UK in 1981 by Sir David Nicholson, Member of the European Parliament, together with Roy Jenkins, President of the European Commission, and Leo Tindemans, Member of the European Parliament. AECA-Belgium was established in 1985 by Baron Jacques Groothaert and Lucien Le Lièvre. The association is non-partisan, and is politically independent.


Eric ter Hark
Chief Executive Officer

John Largent
Viscount Etienne Davignon
AECA European Advisory Patron Board

"As the world becomes smaller, the opportunities for open discussion between European and American business and political leaders become more and more important. AECA contributes significantly to this exchange, with a particular emphasis on the development of the European Union."

Frans van Daele
Head of Cabinet to His Majesty the King of Belgium, Board Member of AECA

"Both Europe and America know that in times of need they can always call on their friends on the other side of the ocean. In between times, they so often seem to misread each other that transatlantic organizations like AECA are essential to reduce the background noise and help governments to focus on the essentials and on the many opportunities this relationship can bring to economy and security. Let us not waste the many winwins which are out there!"

Malcolm Harbour
Former Member of the European Parliament

"AECA debates provide a special opportunity for policy-makers to debate ideas with a very well informed audience. The depth of experience round the table provides a stimulating challenge for any speaker. AECA Round Tables get to the heart of the challenges Europe is facing today."