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Oct 3, 2017

Towards European Strategic Autonomy? Evaluating the New CSDP Initiatives

Study by Gergely Varga


As a result of the deteriorating security environment of Europe, the debate about deepening defence cooperation in the EU has intensifed in the past two years. The initiatives reflecting the EU’s recent efforts to boost cooperation are reflected by such old and new initiatives among others as the EU Global Strategy, PESCO, CARD or the European Defence Fund. As the paper argues, taken together and implemented properly, these initiatives jointly could provide the basis for establishing the European strategic autonomy, the ability to undertake major high-end military operations in Europe’s vicinity. However, since reaching unanimity on many of the crucial questions seem far-fetched, flexibility is indispensable in establishing the proper political and institutional arrangements of the new frameworks of European defence cooperation. Fragmentation of the European Union is already a reality in many aspects, and will remain so also in the area of defence. Therefore, ‘fragmentation by design’ is more preferable than ‘fragmentation by default’. The intensive debates about the initiatives also understate that national considerations and common European interests are often diffcult to fully align, however, muddling through on the current path pose signifcant risks for all EU members and European security as a whole.

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