The EU’s conflict and crisis responses face an ever more challenging environment, characterized by two interconnected aspects: increasingly complex conflict and security situations, as well as intensifying rivalry among major powers in a shifting international order. In the era of strategic competition, conflicts and crises offer venues for competing powers to gain influence and pursue their preferred world order.

This Working Paper discusses the key external and internal drivers that influence the EU’s conflict and crisis responses and identifies three emerging trends that follow on from this: there is an increasing emphasis on geopolitical rationales in decision-making regarding where and what actions to take; responses take the form of security-oriented and narrowly defined operations that are largely non-executive and supportive in nature; and there is a growing demand for ad hoc frameworks and flexibility in conflict responses.

Senior Research Fellow