European security is undergoing a period of transformation, as is the UK’s relationship with Europe, for two central reasons. First, the UK’s departure from the EU in 2020 was a significant structural change to the European security architecture, and required the UK to sign additional defence and security agreements with EU member states. Second, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and the European response, have transformed the European security environment. The pace of change is significant, as are the new frameworks and initiatives that are driving Europe’s response in different functional areas.
As the security environment changes, so will the European security architecture. These structural developments have created an overlapping mosaic of multilateral, minilateral, trilateral and bilateral groupings which all exhibit different political, diplomatic, defence and security responsibilities and commitments. This map helps to understand this complexity and facilitate further analysis.
Aims and objectives
The project aims to create a user-friendly interactive research tool which consolidates information on the UK’s defence and security relationships in a single place.
- To map the UK’s defence and security relationships with European partners.
- To provide a resource to understand complex defence and security relationships more easily, aiding further analysis.
- To highlight which defence and security relationships are priorities for the UK and to identify potential gaps as the UK develops as a European security actor.
This online resource is the output of a joint project between RUSI and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung under the European Security in Transformation programme. The current map represents Phase 1 of the project.
This project has been made possible by the generous support of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
This resource is a product of three months of research conducted by Ed Arnold between January and March 2023 and is correct as at 6 April 2023. The map will be updated every six months.
This map specifically considers the UK’s defence and security relationships with organisations and countries across Europe. It prioritises accessibility of data to help users understand the complexity of the relationships and more readily identify linkages. The compiler has relied on the following considerations to determine the balance between usability and extensiveness of data:
- For Phase 1 of the development of this map, 15 priority countries have been identified for deeper bilateral research due to their current importance to the UK and the volume of joint agreements and memberships. These are: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Ukraine. Phase 2 , expected by the end of 2023, will incorporate the remainder of European countries.
- All the information contained in this research is open source. Specific sources of information such as official government policy documentation or media reports are all linked within the map.
- The organisations that have been selected are those where the UK is a member or observer state, and where that membership has direct bearing on European defence and security.
- The map includes relationships that are current commitments of the UK. Where there are multiple arrangements that have evolved, the map displays the most relevant and contemporary ones.
- The Exercises have been selected where the UK is either the lead country or routinely provides exercising forces for standing exercises in the Euro-Atlantic.