Students’ research. The Strategic Autonomy of the EU in Security and Defence Policies: Varying Understandings of Member States and Search of a Common Position

Project idea

The aim of this research project is to improve the student’s research competencies by implementing an analysis on how different EU member states understand the concept of strategic autonomy and what is sought by trying to create European strategic autonomy in the spheres of security and defence. The strategic autonomy of the EU is described as “the ability to act alone under certain conditions and with partners when it is possible”. Also, the EU Global strategy of 2016 highlights a goal to create a more effective defence and security policy of the EU and member states, emphasises the importance of defence industry to the strategic autonomy, and suggests creating a comprehensive defence strategy.

Even though the EU strategic documents set a direction that the EU has been following to become a more autonomous actor in defence and security, the implementation of strategic autonomy remains fragmented. This is mainly caused by differing understandings of the strategic autonomy concept among member states. Bearing in mind the openness of this concept to different national interpretations, the perspective of reaching its common, EU-wide understanding is becoming increasingly doubtful: each member state describes the content of “strategic autonomy” in a way that suits its interests the best. Because of that, this research seeks to analyse what meaning different EU members ascribe to the concept of strategic autonomy. The researcher will analyse strategic documents of the EU member states and will conduct semi-structured interviews with member state officials in order to find the common points and main differences among the positions of member states. Also, the EU strategic documents will be analysed to identify how differing views are reflected in practical efforts to conceive a united concept of the EU strategic autonomy. The results of this research will be relevant both nationally and internationally and contribute to the academic discussion on the EU strategic autonomy.