Strategizing the European Union

Troops attached to the EU’s Eurocorps prepare to leave for a mission to Afghanistan
A mixed-nationality battalion of the five-country Eurocorps stationed in Strasbourg, France, prepares to depart on a peacekeeping mission to Afghanistan (source: dpa)
  • Early efforts at formulating EU security strategy had few practical results
  • The 2007 Lisbon Treaty encourages closer defense ties, even without consensus
  • The EU’s 2016 strategy aims to turn the bloc into a global security player by gradual steps

The European Union is facing enormous security challenges. Meeting them requires a strategic approach rather than an operational one. In the formal sense, the EU does have its 2016 Global Strategy, but as always with such documents, everything depends on its practical implementation.

To gauge how Europe might fare in today’s murky and complicated security environment, it may help to step back and examine how the EU’s security policies and doctrine originated and evolved. On this path, one can distinguish three milestones: 1) the bloc’s “pre-strategic” phase before its first security strategy was announced in 2003; 2) the Lisbon Treaty as an impulse and framework for updating security strategy; and 3) the 2016 Global Strategy as an attempt to devise and implement a world-scale grand strategy.

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