Strategic autonomy and the transformation of the EU

kutsutilaisuus · Webinar · 28.04.2021 15:00 - 16:30


Wednesday 28 April 2021, 15.00-16.30 EEST / 14.00-15.30 CEST

The increasingly complex and competitive international environment pushes the EU and its member states to rethink some basic tenets of the Union’s economic, foreign and security policy. EU strategic autonomy emerged as a guiding, yet contested, principle in the policy debates in Brussels and national capitals. It describes various EU and member state efforts to better handle global interdependencies that might constrain Europe’s ability to decide and act according to its own choices. This event marks the launch of the FIIA report “Strategic Autonomy and the Transformation of the EU: New agendas for Security, Diplomacy, Trade and Technology” that analyses the EU’s actions and options across several policy domains. Based on the recommendations of the report, the speakers will discuss the key trends and major disputes on the path towards a more capable and self-reliant Europe.

This event presents the results of the FIIA project “European Strategic Autonomy in a Geo-economic World”.


Words of welcome

Mika Aaltola

Director, FIIA

Mika Aaltola is the Director of FIIA. Dr Aaltola is also a professor of International Relations at Tallinn University, Estonia, and holds the rank of docent at Tampere University. He has been a visiting fellow at Cambridge University, Sciences Po (CERI), and Johns Hopkins as well as a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota. His areas of expertise include the US global role, dynamics of power politics, and Finnish foreign policy. His latest published monograph is "Democratic Vulnerability and Autocratic Meddling – The 'Thucydidean Brink' in Regressive Geopolitical Competition" (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2021).


Tania Latici

Policy Analyst, European Parliament / Associate Fellow, Egmont

Tania Lațici is as a Policy Analyst on security and defence in the European Parliamentary Research Service – the in-house think tank of the European Parliament – where she supports MEPs with specialised input while regularly publishing on strategic matters related to the EU’s security and defence policy, EU-NATO cooperation, transatlantic relations and others. She is also doing a part-time PhD on transatlantic defence cooperation at the University of Ghent and with the European Security and Defence College. Past work experiences include the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the transatlantic relations division at the European External Action Service. Ms Latici is also an Associate Fellow with the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations, a Member of Women in International Security Brussels, and an Associate Expert at the New Strategy Center. Previous distinctions include being a GLOBSEC Young Leader, a New Security Leader at the Warsaw Security Forum, and a Transatlantic Denton Fellow at CEPA. In 2020, she was appointed by Secretary General Stoltenberg to co-coordinate the NATO Young Leaders advisory body to assist the NATO2030 strategic reflection process.

Key report findings

Niklas Helwig

Leading Researcher, FIIA

Niklas Helwig is a Leading Researcher at FIIA. His research focuses on EU foreign and security policy, German foreign and security policy, as well as the transatlantic security alliance. Before he returned to FIIA in 2019, he worked at the RAND Corporation, at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS, Washington), at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP, Berlin) and at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS, Brussels). He holds a PhD from the University of Cologne and the University of Edinburgh (‘co-tutelle’).

Practitioners’ view

François Arbault

Director for Defence Industry, European Commission

François Arbault is Director for Defence Industry at the European Commission. Before his current position, Mr Arbault has exercised various responsibilities within the Commission, the most recent being the policy coordination of the “European Green Deal” in the Secretariat-General, and his participation in the negotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement of the United Kingdom from the EU at the “Article 50” Task Force. He has previously acted as Head of the “Public Procurement Strategy” and “Industrial Property” units at the Commission, and as a member of the cabinets of Commissioners Jacques Barrot and Michel Barnier (2008–2013). He joined the Commission in 1995 after he graduated in law and political science, and studied European affairs at the College of Europe. After having worked notably at the Competition Directorate-General, he was seconded from 2003 to 2005 as a legal clerk (“référendaire”) to the Court of Justice of the European Union, where he was a member of the cabinet of the Portuguese judge at the General Court. Mr Arbault was also a member of the Legal Service of the Commission (2005–2008).

Further speakers

Nicole Koenig

Deputy Director, Jacques Delors Centre

Nicole Koenig is Deputy Director at the Jacques Delors Centre in Berlin. Her areas of expertise include EU foreign and security policy, institutional questions, and migration policy. Prior to joining the Jacques Delors Centre, she worked for the Trans European Policy Studies Association in Brussels, the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, as well as the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London. She holds a PhD in Politics and International Relations from the Universities of Edinburgh and Cologne.

Tobias Gehrke

Research Fellow, Egmont

Tobias Gehrke has been a Research Fellow in the Europe in the World Programme at the Egmont Institute since 2017. His research centres on geoeconomics, economic statecraft, and strategic economic relations between the EU, the US, and China. He is also pursuing a PhD at Ghent University as part of the recently concluded EU Horizon 2020 Marie Curie research project “EU Trade & Investment Policy” (EUTIP). Tobias was a Visiting Fellow at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nottingham University and at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. Other work experiences include the EU Commission’s DG Trade, the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, and the private legal sector.