Strategic Autonomy: Not without integration

European Strategic Autonomy series - Security & Defence

Policy Brief


One dimension of strategic autonomy has been firmly decided upon since the EU created its Common Security and Defence Policy in 1999: the projection of military force outside the borders of the EU. That is also the dimension that must, and can, be acted upon in the very short term.

Autonomy is a mindset. An actor that does not think autonomously will never act autonomously, regardless of its capabilities. Five components of that mindset are essential. First, member states must see the EU is a great power, in the same league as the US, Russia, and China. Second, the EU must take the lead in stabilising its own periphery – nobody will do that for it. Third, the only meaningful level of ambition remains the Headline Goal of up to 60,000 troops.

Fourth, autonomy can only be achieved in a European grouping, not by any member state alone. Finally, autonomy requires integration of national forces, not just interoperability between them. While the weak argue amongst themselves – Do we have strategic autonomy? Do we want strategic autonomy? – the strong exercise their autonomy. There is no time to waste, therefore.

Those member states that share this mindset can create a set of permanent multinational formations, with national brigades, ships, and air squadrons as building-blocks. They can do that now, so that when the EU adopts its Strategic Compass in March 2022, it can unveil a real capability initiative at the same time.

Read the Policy Brief

Find all related publications

Countering economic coercion: how can the European Union succeed?

This policy brief assesses how the EU can bolster its response and defence mechanisms against […]

Leveraging trade policy for the EU’s strategic autonomy

In a context of increasing weaponisation of interdependence – highlighted by the pandemic and Russia’s […]

Partnerships and European strategic autonomy: How to turn them into a win-win approach

To become more strategic and autonomous, the European Union has to better use its global […]

European Industrial Policy: A crucial element of strategic autonomy

European Strategic Autonomy series - Economy & Trade
Find all related events

Strategic Autonomy – Economy & Trade

Policy Breakfast Series

Strategic Autonomy – Security & Defense

Policy Breakfast Series
Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Africa Day 2022

Amsterdam, 28 May 2022 After two years in which it was not possible to organise […]
Find all related news

HRVP Josep Borrell participates in FEPS expert meeting on the war and the reconstruction of Ukraine

On May 23rd, FEPS organised a timely expert meeting on the war and the reconstruction […]

New report shows young Europeans fear war spreading across Europe and call on EU countries to spend more on defence

Brussels, 12 May 2022 – As war continues to rage in Ukraine, a new survey has found that nearly […]

FEPS leads a new flagship research project on EU Strategic Autonomy with top European experts

Does the EU have the capacity and agency to set priorities and make decisions autonomously […]

On the eve of the UN General Assembly, FEPS unveils a proposal for a new, inclusive and fair multilateralism

On the eve of the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Foundation for European […]
Find all related in the media
In the media

Flames of Kyiv

by Encompass 17/05/2022

Crise na Ucrânia pode ser o toque de caixa para a Europa enfrentar temas “onde tem estado a marcar passo”

by SAPO 10/05/2022

EU sees strengthened partnership with US vital for global recovery – EURACTIV


UNited for a fairer and more sustainable recovery – EURACTIV