In an era where threats manifest in ways below the threshold for military responses, has the EU now come of age and is it better placed than NATO to provide European security?
President Emmanuel Macron's call for European 'strategic autonomy' follows his earlier criticisms that NATO is 'brain dead'. It also comes at a time of concerns in some European capitals about the US's commitment to Europe, especially given President Joe Biden’s continued focus on China. Moreover, many of the threats currently confronting Europe operate below the threshold for military action, such as migration, cyber attacks, the undermining of political systems, and crime. Has a tipping point been reached in the sense that the EU holds more relevant levers for providing European security than NATO? Is the EU now able to fulfil its purpose in bringing peace to Europe against external threats alongside its original emphasis on managing relations among its members?
Which institution is now the more effective guarantor of European security? Should calls for European strategic autonomy be centred on reinforcing NATO or strengthening independent EU capabilities across diplomatic, information, military and economic levers of power?
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RUSI and France’s École de Guerre have collaborated over the past four years, aiming to apply intellectual rigour in answering the most critical questions facing militaries today. RUSI’s Military Sciences research group supports students around the world during their professional military education.