Transatlantic Security and European Autonomy—a Political Economy of Security Perspective

Becker, J. (2020). Transatlantic Security and European Autonomy—a Political Economy of Security Perspective. Revue Défense Nationale2020/07(832).

European leaders have focused on the concept of strategic autonomy in recent years, amid increased US rhetorical pressure regarding burden-sharing, the (re)emergence of great power rivalry, and questions regarding the strength of the transatlantic bond. I argue that resource allocation is essential to strategic autonomy – it is impossible to understand the prospects of strategic autonomy without understanding the drivers of defense investment. I further argue that these drivers reside primarily in domestic and regional political economies.
European strategic autonomy thus requires increased, defense-focused coordination in employment, fiscal and industrial policy. From a transatlantic perspective, this suggests that the US may consider supporting European efforts at strategic and industrial autonomy as complementary to its desire for more equal transatlantic burden-sharing and more capable allies. In order to address burdensharing and operational challenges within NATO, the US may need to cede some control and empower its European allies outside the NATO context.
What is European strategic autonomy ? EU member states have not yet formally defined it together beyond introducing it in the St-Malo Declaration : “the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so.” I define strategic autonomy as the ability to direct and use all of the assets of the European Union and its members, including their militaries, for the purposes of policy as decided by politics, without depending on external capabilities…