[New publication] Addressing the legal questions surrounding the EU’s strategic autonomy

Published 11 December 2023

@Shutterstock – Strategic autonomy has become a priority for the EU, but what exactly are the legal dimensions of the EU’s pursuit of an autonomous and secure future?

Asser Institute researcher Eva Kassoti and Ramses A. Wessel have brought together a comprehensive legal analysis of the notion of strategic autonomy as editors for a new special issue for the European Foreign Affairs Review. The special issue focuses on general considerations as well as specific policy areas like EU defence-industrial spending, sanctions, and data autonomy.

‘Strategic autonomy’ has become more prominent in the debate surrounding the European Union's (EU) global role. It was first mentioned in a 2013 European Council call for the development of European defence capabilities. As the term found its way into key EU policy documents, including the 2016 EU Global Strategy and the establishment of the European Defence Fund in 2017, its significance became even more pronounced. Despite increased use, it remains unclear what this means in legal terms.

Comprehensive security
Identifying the legal dimensions of the fundamental political concept of strategic autonomy is at the core of the special issue. The contributions shed light on the various policy dimensions of the challenges facing the EU in this area. The concept of ‘comprehensive security’ is integral to this exploration that includes politico-military, economic, environmental and human aspects.

Legal frameworks
As the legal questions surrounding strategic autonomy become increasingly practical, the editors and authors recognise the need to consider the political context and relevant debates. They emphasise the relationship between legal frameworks and the broader political landscape. By adopting a comprehensive perspective on security, they aim to unravel the complex legal framework of strategic autonomy, providing valuable insights into the challenges faced by the EU in its pursuit of an autonomous and secure future.

Read the issue here.

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About Eva Kassoti
Dr Eva Kassoti
is a Senior Researcher in International and EU Law as well as the academic co-ordinator for the Centre of the Law of EU External Relations (CLEER) at the T.M.C. Asser Institute. Eva’s research interests include public international law, EU law, EU external relations law, as well as the interplay between the international and the EU legal order. Since November 2020 Eva has been acting as the Co-Chair of the International Law Association (ILA) Study Group on The International Law of Regional Organisations.

Dr Eva Kassoti