An Architecture fit for Strategic Autonomy

European Strategic Autonomy series - Security & Defence

Policy Brief


Institutional and Operational Steps Towards a More Autonomous EU External Action

This policy paper analyses several institutional and policymaking priorities conducive to a more strategic autonomy agenda for the whole of EU external action. It departs from two different understandings of strategic autonomy: the geopolitical understanding, on which most political efforts have been placed so far, and an institutional/operational understanding, where substantial work remains to be done.

The policy paper reviews three recurrent institutional shortcomings for strategic autonomy: the political paralysis at the EU level and the need for more flexible institutional responses; the divisive and often distracting discussions on QMV in the field of foreign and security policy; and a limiting focus on security and defence when it comes to implementing strategic autonomy as a policy priority.

The final section provides some policy options to advance the EU’s strategic autonomy agenda, in line with its operational purposes, namely broadening the focus of discussions on strategic autonomy to the whole of EU external action; securing the buy-in of member states in processes and policies leading to more strategic autonomy; promoting thematic and regional steps forward in its operationalisation; fostering political consensus at the highest level; promoting a strategic autonomy esprit de corps; and enhancing the institutional tools, methods and capabilities for more strategic autonomy in the field of EU external action.

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