Sir Michael Leigh, a non-lawyer, is a senior advisor in Covington’s EU Public Policy and Government Affairs team. He has over 30 years of experience in the field of European and international politics and policy. He has held positions in various EU institutions, with a focus on the European Union’s relations with neighboring countries to the east and south.
From 2006 to 2011, Sir Michael was director-general for enlargement with the European Commission, after three years as external relations deputy director-general with responsibility for European Neighborhood Policy, relations with Eastern Europe, Southern Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East, and the Mediterranean countries. In his time at the European Commission, he has been a cabinet member for three Commissioners and a director in the Task Force for EU Accession Negotiations. Sir Michael began his career as assistant professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University and lecturer in international relations at the University of Sussex.
Sir Michael is also a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States. He has set up the GMF’s project on Eastern Mediterranean energy, structured around the geopolitical implications of offshore gas discoveries in the region. He was an Erskine fellow at the National Centre for Research on Europe at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in January/February 2017.
He has advised governments, written and lectured extensively about the implications of Brexit, the future of the Eurozone and the EU, Ukraine, Turkey, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Sir Leigh coordinated and moderated the European and Eurasian Studies Program Distinguished Lecture series at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University in Washington in 2015 and 2016, and will teach an advanced seminar on the theory and practice of European integration at SAIS Europe in 2018.
As part of Covington's global public policy and government affairs team, Sir Michael is part of a market leading group of experienced lawyers and former senior policymakers. The team advises clients on a range of European public policy issues, including the EU policy-making processes and the functioning of the European institutions.
Articles in the National Law Review database by Michael Leigh