Nov 9, 2021
Competing visions of European strategic autonomy have been widely debated in European Union (EU) policy circles. This study examines the meaning of European strategic autonomy in defence and its implications for the U.S., NATO and EU-US relations using a scenario methodology and transatlantic expert consultation.
Competing visions of European strategic autonomy have been widely debated in European Union (EU) policy circles. The term itself has undergone a fast evolution: from an initial focus on defence to inclusion of a much broader set of security considerations such as the economy, health or technology, to name just a few. At its core, however, the concept retains an important defence dimension.
Yet the path towards greater EU defence integration has been bumpy and focused on setting up new institutions, frameworks and programmes often without providing adequate resources, sustained political support or clear outputs. This legacy raises questions for the future of European strategic autonomy in defence and means many experts still view the concept with scepticism.
This study examines the implications of three different possible futures of European strategic autonomy in defence, using a scenario methodology. A first scenario envisages the development of a strong European pillar of NATO on the basis of current trends. A second scenario considers a faltering EU defence integration and transatlantic fragmentation. A third and final scenario envisages a strong EU defence that does not rely on NATO for access to military capabilities and structures. Through these scenarios, this study seeks to answer the fundamental question of 'What does European strategic autonomy in defence mean for the EU, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and EU-US relations'?
A brief overview of European defence integration
Possible futures of European strategic autonomy in defence
Implications of possible futures of European strategic autonomy in defence
Future scenarios methodology
Scenarios of European strategic autonomy