from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program

Europe Wants Strategic Autonomy, but That Is Much Easier Said Than Done

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel take part in the launching of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) during an EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, on December 14, 2017. Yves Herman/Reuters

Achieving strategic autonomy will require Europeans to develop a coherent strategic culture, reach agreement on  priorities, and reassure U.S. leaders that greater autonomy is complementary to NATO.  

November 25, 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel take part in the launching of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) during an EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, on December 14, 2017. Yves Herman/Reuters
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In my weekly column for World Politics ReviewI examine the idea of European strategic autonomy as well as some of the obstacles confronting it. 

When NATO leaders meet next week in London, one phrase will be on everybody’s lips: European strategic autonomy. While the ambiguous concept is open to competing interpretations, its general thrust is clear. It connotes a growing aspiration among many countries in Europe to set their own global priorities and act independently in security and foreign policy, and to possess sufficient material and institutional capabilities to implement these decisions, with partners of their own choosing. The notion is at the heart of President Emmanuel Macron’s vision of a “sovereign” Europe, and of the ambitions of the incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to create a “geopolitical commission.”

More on:

Europe

Grand Strategy

Defense and Security

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

European Union

Strategic autonomy has obvious appeal to Europeans at a time of fraying trans-Atlantic bonds and deepening great-power competition. Aspiring to self-reliance is one thing, however. Achieving it will require much more from the European Union. The heterogeneous bloc will have to develop a coherent strategic culture and come to some agreement on a shared assessment of threats—and on how the EU should pursue its interests and promote its values internationally. Europeans must also reassure the United States that any new EU military capabilities will complement rather than undermine NATO.

Read the full World Politics Review article here

More on:

Europe

Grand Strategy

Defense and Security

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

European Union

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