This Working Paper analyzes the current debate on EU strategic autonomy among European policymakers and think-tankers and evaluates it against the backdrop of the EU’s progress as a global actor in recent years.
To bring more clarity to the debate, the paper distinguishes between a conventional and a global perspective on strategic autonomy. While conventional strategic autonomy focuses narrowly on the EU’s dependencies on the US as a security provider, global strategic autonomy highlights the EU’s ability to advance a range of international policies based on its distinct values and interests.
The paper proposes three dimensions within which the capacity for EU strategic autonomy should be evaluated: institutional, material, and political. The EU has made progress in the development of its institutional framework and has also started to invest in its material resources. However, without advances in political autonomy – particularly concerning the convergence of European strategic cultures – the sovereign EU in global affairs project will be difficult to achieve.