A stronger collective political will, a clearer consensus on the true meaning of ‘European strategic autonomy’ and a heavy dose of pragmatism must be combined for Europe to fulfil its ambitions to both protect citizens and more powerfully defend its values and interests on the world stage.
Those were among the conclusions as experts and guests gathered at the well-attended Friends of Europe security policy summit, A Stronger Alliance: the future of European security, in Brussels on 4 June.
Participants at the annual flagship event of our Peace, Security and Defence programme discussed the various interpretations of ‘European strategic autonomy’, as well as how it was viewed from outside the EU. A session was also held on the proliferation and impact of disinformation.
Questions remain over what the phrase ‘strategic autonomy’ means to different leaders and member states, said panellists.
The EU was serious about taking it forward, but “do we have a common understanding as to what that level of ambition would represent?”, asked moderator and Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe Jamie Shea.
“Is it simply a military concept or meant to be something broader, encompassing Europe’s more general geopolitical and economic role? Is this something that’s going to be top-down from Brussels or more bottom-up from the member states? Can it also improve the performance of related organisations like NATO?”
It’s a valid concept to pursue, but we should be careful of ‘sloganism’, said Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, former NATO Secretary General, and Friends of Europe trustee.
Now isn’t the time to waste time re-writing political treaties or reforming the EU institutions as a means to strengthen the bloc, said panellists, most of whom said it was more pragmatic to continue working on the basis a ‘coalition of the willing’.
Among the EU’s most obvious and most pressing common interests were addressing a ‘clear and present danger’ in Africa and instability in the western Balkans, warned defence experts.
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.
PHOTO CREDIT: CC Flickr / NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
EU-NATO Cooperation: 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.
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.
These early bird masterclasses are held before the first session of the summit. Due to capacity constraints, only participants who have signed up in advance for those will be able to attend them
Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defense at Friends of Europe, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Table 1 - Cyber-Security
Cyber Security Research Fellow at the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences
Table 2 - Hybrid Threats
Dorthe Bach Nyemann
Senior Lecturer at the Royal Danish Defence College
Table 3 - Counter-Terrorism
Head of NATO’s Counter Terrorism Section, Emerging Security Challenges Division
Table 4 - Rapid Response and Crisis Management
Lieutenant-General Vincenzo Coppola
Civilian Operations Commander at the European External Action Service
Table 5 - Defence Capabilities Innovation
Research Fellow for Defence Economics and Procurement at the International Institute for Strategic Studies
Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
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
General Fernando Alejandre
Spanish Chief of Defence
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Minister of State, President of the Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs, former NATO secretary-general and former Dutch foreign minister
Estonian Minister of Defence
Member of the French National Assembly
Fake news and disinformation have infiltrated democratic processes across the West by influencing elections, distorting the truth and exploiting current levels of distrust in governments and elites. Individuals are inflating their social media accounts with fake users to capitalise on the internet’s economic benefits, while groups acting as proxies for certain governments have engaged closely with this black market in order to make political and geostrategic gains. In recent years, the EU, NATO and European member states have searched for innovative and resilient answers to confront the increasing influence of Russian-tied disinformation, making important strides. But in a world where popularity and influence are measured by likes, shares and views, knowing how social media trolls and bots operate has become imperative to save the integrity of democratic institutions. Building on our Debating Security Plus debate and recommendations on disinformation, this session will bring together two experts to discuss ideas on how to identify and counter the dark world behind social media.
Idea Sharing 1: The economics behind disinformation
Senior Expert at the Technical and Scientific Development Branch of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence
Idea Sharing 2: Trolling an information war
Award-winning Journalist at the Finnish Broadcasting Company
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?
Director at the International Affairs Institute (IAI)
Director of the Research Center of Oceans Law and Policy, National Institute for the South China Sea Studies (NISCSS)
Director of the Department for European Cooperation, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ambassador Christopher Hill
Chief Advisor to the Chancellor for Global Engagement and former US Ambassador to Iraq (2009-2010)
Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence, Friends of Europe; author or “After the Ice”, “Crossing the Wilderness”, and “Murky Waters”
General Fernando Alejandre is the highest-ranking military officer in the Spanish Armed Forces and is the principal military advisor to Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez. Prior to this position, he served as Deputy Commander of the NATO Joint Forces Command, Brunssum. He has served as Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) at SHAPE, where he took care of a large portfolio ranging from the Redeployment of International Security Assistance Force to the Readiness Action Plan and the Deployability Concept. His operational background includes a deployment to Iraq in 1991, a tour as Chief Engineer for the Spanish Task Force in Bosnia during 1993 and, in 2003, he was the JOC Director at HQ KFOR in Film City, Pristina.
Jessikka Aro is a highly-acclaimed investigative reporter who works with the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Aro specialises in topics relating to Russia, extremism and information warfare. In 2014, she started to investigate the techniques of pro-Kremlin social media trolls and their influence on public debates outside Russia’s borders. Nowadays, her reports are widely quoted and used in international investigations on troll tactics. As a result of her involvement in these investigations, she became the target of serious propaganda and hate speech campaigns, many of which are still ongoing. Aro is currently writing an investigative book on the Kremlin’s information warfare. She also trains reporters and the general public to both recognise and counter online disinformation. Aro is lobbying for better legislation to counter hybrid threats and protect citizens from state-sponsored online security threats.
Sebastian Bay is a Senior Expert at the Technical and Scientific Development Branch of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga, Latvia. Bay has a background at the Counter Inﬂuence Unit of the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency where he was the project manager for the preparations undertaken to protect the Swedish general elections in 2018. He is currently the project manager of a NATO StratCom COE project on countering the malicious use of social media.
Lucie Béraud-Sudreau is responsible for the collection and the assessment of data on defence budgets and defence industry for The Military Balance at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Her research focuses on defence economics in Europe as well as on defence spending, defence industry and arms trade. She has previously worked at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the French Ministry of Defence.
Dr Juliette Bird has been the head of NATO’s Counter Terrorism section, within the Emerging Security Challenges Division, since 2011. Over the course of a 20 year career in the UK foreign service, she has specialised in global threats pertaining to proliferation, financial crime and, most extensively, terrorism. She served in the UK’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and was then seconded to NATO to set up an equivalent body for the Alliance. Her work abroad has included postings to India, Belgium and the European Union.
Vincenzo Coppola is the EEAS’s Civilian Operations Commander. In this post, he oversees the EU’s ten civilian CSDP operations deployed across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He previously served as Deputy Commanding General of the 111,000 strong Italian Carabinieri. He brings with him a professional career of 40 years that spans the time he spent in Italy, at the EU headquarters in Brussels and at several international assignments.
As an Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, Camille Grand leads and oversees NATO’s defence spending and investment strategies. He was previously Director and CEO of the Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS), France’s leading think tank on defence and security. His research and publications focused on defence policy, NATO, nuclear policy and missile defence. In addition to these responsibilities, he has been a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and has represented the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in international negotiations on nuclear and chemical arms control.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is a Dutch politician who prominently served as the 11th Secretary General of NATO. He previously worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch delegation of the NATO headquarters in Brussels. He now works as President of the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) of the Netherlands, an independent body which advises government and parliament on foreign policy. Furthermore, he was appointed to the Pieter Kooijmans Chair for Peace, Law and Security at Leiden University.
Ambassador Christopher R. Hill is currently the Chief Global Advisor at the University of Denver Global Engagement. He is a former career diplomat, a four-time ambassador – having been nominated by three presidents – and his last post was as Ambassador to Iraq, serving in this position from April 2009 until August 2010. Prior to Iraq, Hill served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (2005-2009), during which he was also the head of the US delegation to the Six Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. He was previously the US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, to Poland and to Macedonia, in addition to serving as Special Envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999). He is also a monthly columnist for Project Syndicate.
Having accumulated a long and prominent diplomatic career, Andrey Kelin currently serves as Director of the Department for European Cooperation in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this position, he oversees various areas of Russia-EU cooperation and he is one of the main channels for political and diplomatic dialogue between Russia and Europe. Previously, he served as Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE and as Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to NATO.
Having been appointed in 2017, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik is responsible for the organisation of national defence of Estonia. Prior to becoming Minister of Defence, Luik was the Undersecretary for Political Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has also served as Director of the International Centre for Defence and Security and as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Moscow.
Dorthe Bach Nyemann is a Senior Lecturer at the Royal Danish Defence College. During the last three years, she has been a Danish representative and contributor to the US-led Multinational Capability Development Campaign project (MCDC); Understanding and Countering Hybrid Warfare. Her research focuses mainly on the effects of the cyber domain on International Relations and International Law.
For the past six years, Piret Pernik has been one of Estonia’s leading researchers in cyber security. Her research, publications and teaching covers a broad range of cyber security subjects such as the cyber security and defence policies of the EU and NATO, strategies and policies, cyber commands and national information and cyber operations. She previously worked at the International Centre for Defence and Security and the Estonian Ministry of Defence, where she focused on cyber defence policy planning. She has also worked as an advisor to the National Defence Committee of the Estonian Parliament.
Natalia Pouzyreff was elected as a Member of the French National Assembly for La République En Marche! (LaREM) in June 2017. Natalia currently sits as Secretary of the Defence Committee. She is also heavily involved in industrial strategy and the civil nuclear sector. She has been instrumental in promoting a sovereign Europe and has been put in charge of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) questions for LaREM. Having undergone training as a professional engineer, she has spent many years working in the defence and aerospace sector.
Retiring from NATO in September 2018 after 38 years at the organisation, Jamie Shea has occupied a number of senior positions at NATO across a wide range of areas, including external relations, press and media and policy planning. As NATO’s spokesperson, he was the face of the Alliance during the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts. He later worked as the Director of Policy Planning in the private office of former Secretary General Rasmussen during the preparation of NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept. Shea is also a regular lecturer and conference speaker on NATO and European security affairs.
Paul is a Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe and the author of Friends of Europe’s European Defence Cooperation report series. A Paris-based journalist, he also writes the “Europe at Large” column for Politico. He previously spent four decades working for Reuters as a foreign correspondent in Paris, Tehran, Bonn and Brussels, as bureau chief in Israel/Palestine, Berlin and Brussels, as chief correspondent in France, as diplomatic editor in London, and finally as European affairs editor. His assignments have included covering the Iranian revolution, the Cold War Euromissile crisis, the 1991 Gulf War, German reunification, the Maastricht summit, France in the 1990s, EU enlargement, the Eurozone crisis and the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt.
Nathalie Tocci is the Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali, Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen and Special Advisor to EU High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini, on behalf of whom she wrote the European Global Strategy. She is currently working on the implementation of the EU’s Global Strategy, most notably in the field of security and defence. Her research interests include European foreign policy, conflict resolution, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. She previously held research positions at the Washington-based Transatlantic Academy and the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies in Florence.
Yan Yan is the Director of the Research Center of Oceans Law and Policy in the National Institute for the South China Sea Studies (NISCSS). There, her research interests and publications focus on sea law, maritime security in the Asia-Pacific, China’s maritime law and policy in the South China Sea. Yan Yan has taken part in many regional diplomacy track 1.5 and 2 conferences and seminars on regional maritime security issues. Under her leadership, NISCSS has established academic cooperation with nearly one hundred think tanks across the world with the ambition of providing a more comprehensive understanding of China’s policy in the South China Sea.
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