The defence angle of European strategic autonomy remains sensitive and contested. In this chapter of a report published by the Finnish Institute of International Relations (FIIA) Nicole Koenig reviews the EU's defence cooperation initiatives since 2016 and assesses progress along the political, institutional and material dimensions of strategic autonomy. She shows that divergent national strategic cultures and threat perceptions continue to stand in the way of political autonomy while progress on the institutional and material dimensions is gradual. The renewal of Atlanticism triggered by Biden’s election and the pandemic’s uncertain impact on defence spending and collaboration risk broadening the persisting gap between ambition and reality. The author calls upon the EU and its member states to strengthen all three dimensions of autonomy and provides guidance for the next steps.
The full FIIA report addressing the implications of great power competition as well as diplomacy, trade and technology can be accessed here.