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The UK must not dismiss European ‘strategic autonomy’


Although the current Ukraine crisis has been a reality check for the EU, the UK still needs to engage with the debate about a greater European capacity to act.

The concept of ‘European strategic autonomy’ has taken a hit as Europeans have been sidelined and the European Union (EU) has struggled to make itself relevant in the current standoff with Russia over Ukraine.

With NATO’s new Strategic Concept and the EU’s first Strategic Compass, 2022 was meant to be the year of European security strategies. But the conflict at the Ukrainian border has been a reality check about what role the EU can today play in European security.

Conversely, the Ukraine crisis has amplified the UK’s role as a security provider for Europe through NATO as well as bilateral and minilateral arrangements such as the new Ukraine-Poland-UK trilateral format or, beyond the current crisis, London’s leadership of the ten-nation Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). The UK’s diplomatic energy and assertive action on the Ukraine situation – supplying military equipment, training, and increasing force deployments – have been widely acknowledged.

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