Strategic autonomy is the latest fashionable concept, in Paris and Brussels alike. It appears no fewer than 24 times in the most recent French strategic review and there is not a single European strategic document, however insignifi cant, that makes no mention of it. Read More
Beyond political posturing, strategic autonomy has entered the legal fi eld, as it is now set out as one of the objectives assigned to the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. It will, therefore, be one of the criteria used to assess defence R&D projects in contention for European funding.
But what is strategic autonomy?
For the fi rst time, this report carefully retraces the brief history of this fl edgling concept born at the end of the 20th century and permanent crossover between French defence planners and the European leaders.
Beyond overviews focusing on the politics and the doctrine, the author has attempted to off er a working defi nition of the concept, in the sense of one that has been craft ed by lawyers. It emerges that strategic autonomy is above all a legal standard, such as the concept of due diligence, and that it makes sense
only if looked at from a contingent and relative viewpoint. In other words, tell me which war you want to fi ght and I will tell you what autonomy you will need.
Finally, the author lays emphasis on the "political" component of strategic autonomy. This “political capability”, which is obvious and therefore need not be taken into account at national level, is, on the contrary, the fi rst item of equipment that anybody hoping to join the quest for the holy Grail of European defence will need.