The Future of European Security

04 June 2019 - 08:30 - 13:15

Friends of Europe’s annual Policy Security Summit is the flagship event of our ambitious peace, security & defence programme. Bringing together senior decision-makers with out-of-the-box movers and shakers, this occasion allows for in-depth and innovative discussions on today’s most pressing security and defence issues.

Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of NATO, this year’s summit will be a forward-looking and thought-provoking examination of the future of Europe’s strategic autonomy and its place in the world during a time of protectionism and international competition. Following shortly after the European Parliament elections, our summit takes place at a particularly crucial moment that presents the opportunity to launch and promote visionary new ideas for the European defence paradigm  and NATO in the 21st century, as well as those aimed at tackling contemporary security developments shaking our world.

With this summit, we aim to identify the complex security challenges facing Europe, find a pathway for the continued development of Europe’s common strategic capabilities and understand where in the global world of geopolitics Europe stands.

This conference will also allow participants to take part in early bird masterclasses to learn more about key opportunities for  European security and defence cooperation. Additionally, this year’s summit will challenge participants to make sense of today’s challenging security environment and tomorrow’s uncertain future for Europe’s strategic autonomy. 


Registration & coffee

09.15 - 10.00

EARLY BIRD MASTERCLASSES - A Secure Vision for Europe

As the geopolitical landscape becomes more complex and crises more unpredictable, EU-NATO cooperation is critical to mounting timely and effective responses to emerging threats. The existing partnership between the EU and NATO has improved drastically in recent years, particularly since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. However, shortcomings still remain and bridging the gap between both organisations has become increasingly important. This session presents five masterclasses on areas in which the EU and NATO currently collaborate. 

Our early-bird masterclasses, held before our first session, are designed to explore and provide insights on new defense and security opportunities which may not be familiar to all participants. These courses will help participants gain a more intimate understanding of the key issues that will be discussed during the following sessions. Please note that the masterclasses have a limited number of places which will be available on a first come, first served basis.

The themes being discussed are connected to the recommendations drawn from our Debating Security Plus 2018 report, crafted in consultations with a global coalition of security experts participating in our annual online security brainstorm. 

Welcome remarks by Jamie Shea, Senior Fellow, Friends of Europe 

Table 1 - Cyber-Security 
Table 2 - Hybrid Threats  
Table 3 - Counter-Terrorism
Table 4 - Rapid Response and Crisis Management
Table 5 - Defence Capabilities Innovation


10.00 - 10.15

Coffee Break

10.15 - 11.30

Session 1: European Strategic Autonomy – What, where and how?

The 2019 EU elections pose a new test for those seeking greater European strategic autonomy. Considerable gains for populist parties could see a change in the EU’s approach to defence and its geopolitical aspirations as a whole. On the other hand, pro-European coalitions could lead to the development of more autonomous enterprises such as the European Intervention Initiative. Furthermore, the question remains whether European countries can keep up with promises to increase their defence spending to levels that meet NATO standards. While full-throated calls for an EU army seem to have quieted, there continues to be support for efforts that seek greater European strategic autonomy. The EU’s geopolitical ambitions are likely to face pressure from both inside and outside the EU, from both EU countries that fear losing American support and NATO allies warning of the dangers of duplicating common efforts. Questions on what does European autonomy mean and look like, as well as concerns over how can this be achieved are not likely to go away any time soon.
•    What is European strategic autonomy? What is the level of ambition needed to meet the EU’s own interests?
•    On capabilities: Who has them? Can they be pooled and shared? And, what are the key capabilities still missing? 
•    What practical implications can the results of the recent elections have on European defence cooperation? 

Moderated by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, former Secretary General of NATO and Trustee of Friends of Europe 

11.30 - 12.00

Coffee break

12.00 - 13.15

Session 2:  EU Security And Defence In A Wider World

Greater EU strategic autonomy in defence and security is bound to be met with mixed reactions. While leaders in France, Germany and Spain have endorsed an EU army, transatlantic allies have rejected the idea. What are the perspectives from outside of the EU on the talks of a greater European strategic autonomy? 

Old alliances are being tested through the recent rise of protectionist stances and new “strongmen” around the globe. This has prompted EU leaders to look for further defence cooperation within the Union, but how is this seen by outsiders? NATO would certainly benefit from European allies shouldering more of the responsibility for defence, yet Russia has welcomed an EU army that could possibly diminish NATO’s collective effectiveness. Unlike the US and Russia, other global powers, such as China, seem to see the EU solely as an economic player rather than a significant international security actor. A shift in old alliances could redefine the EU’s relationship with other global and regional powers. 

A greater European strategic autonomy may also demand that the EU takes on a greater role in today’s global hotspots. The EU’s ability to generate influence in an ever-more complex geopolitical order is likely to be tested in the next decade. 

•    How are old, critical alliances changing? Would an increased European strategic autonomy affect current alliances?  
•    In this turbulent era for the transatlantic relationship, can shouldering more responsibility for defence in Europe help bridge the current divide? 
•    To what extent would a more ambitious EU global strategy clash or align with Russian and Chinese geopolitical interests?   
•    In a post-Brexit scenario, is EU-UK security and defence cooperation destined to take a drastic shift? 

Moderated by Jamie Shea, Senior Fellow, Friends of Europe


End of Summit


Antonia Erlandsson
Tel.: +32 2 300 29 92
Email: antonia.erlandsson@friendsofeurope.org  

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Event starts
04 June