Last updated: June 2013

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."

Herman van Rompuy
European Council

"The partnership between Europe and America is strong. It is based on a shared history, the impressive connectedness of our economies and a broadly shared political vision for the future. Time-tested and valuable as it is, the Transatlantic relationship cannot be taken for granted. It needs conscious and sustained political investment on both sides. That's why the work of AECA is vital. Its meetings and conferences help to foster understanding between governments and businesses in Europe and America in an irreplaceable manner. I am grateful for that."

José Manuel Barroso
European Commission

"The EU and US have a common past, present and future. We share fundamental values, interests and goals. Acting together, we can do much to spread prosperity, solidarity and security at home and, as active partners, around the globe. Organizations such as AECA help us to define our shared agenda and ensure we work towards a common understanding of the challenges we face"