RAND Institute: European Strategic Autonomy in Defence - Transatlantic visions and implications for NATO, US and EU relations

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'?

Read more about this report on the website of the RAND Institute


Photo Credits: European Parliament, Flickr


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