The fragmentation of the US led and Western dominated global order and the rise in global geopolitical competition, has put Europe’s security in an increasingly vulnerable position.
Europe has to contend with an increasingly assertive Russia; the rising China’s assertiveness; spiralling conflict and violence to its south in Syria, Libya and in the Sahel, the unravelling of nuclear arms control treaties, and the absence of US leadership on the global stage.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted new, perhaps less obvious dimensions to the notion of “security” and showed that strategic autonomy should be more broadly defined to include hard security, science, economic system sustainability, and models of society.
The international arena lacks a powerful champion of multilateralism and there is a clear opportunity for the EU to make its voice heard. The EU recently asserted itself by defining the terms of its geopolitical goals and ambitions for strategic autonomy.
However, in order to emerge as a global leader and achieve this autonomy, it will need to think harder about its control over critical infrastructure and supply chains, build up its internal resilience, balance social and economic recovery from the pandemic, and overcome internal division.
- To what extent can the EU increase its strategic autonomy and geopolitical profile without excluding crucial partners such as the UK and the US, especially given the cross-border security challenges?
- What role do European efforts to achieve strategic autonomy, such as PESCO and the EDF, play in forging the EU’s new geopolitical role?
- How can the EU balance and align its strategy with the differing national interests and security concerns of its member states?
Elena Gómez de Castro
Spanish Director-General for Defence Policy
Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Security and Defence
Lithuanian Minister of Defence
Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA)
Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence and former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for emerging security challenges at NATO