The Future Security Strategy of the European Union – part 2 – 2016 Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy

Politics - March 15, 2023

The High Representative presented the Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy to the European Council on 28 June 2016. Security, strategic autonomy and the principled but pragmatic approach to the European environment are the main pillars on which the Strategy was built, marking a significant change from approach compared to the document that preceded it in 2003. Thus, its construction was carried out following five priority directions related to foreign policy, based on the desire to strengthen the common interests and principles of the members, promoted internationally by the actions of the Union.

The first priority direction stipulated in the Strategy refers to the security of the Union and adopts the position that an appropriate level of ambition in terms of strategic autonomy is necessary in order to promote peace and ensure security both inside the EU’s borders and outside them, reiterating its commitment to work closely with its international partners, especially NATO. Within this direction, five lines of action have been drawn. The first of these refers directly to the security and defence component, reiterating the desire for the Union to be better equipped, prepared, and organised to contribute decisively to the defence effort, alongside its main military ally, NATO, as well as to be prepared to act autonomous if the situation requires it. Special attention was paid to the transatlantic partnership with the USA, considering the fact that for its good functioning, it is necessary to increase the credibility of the Union in defence matters. The second line of action refers to anti-terrorism efforts, with the Strategy encouraging the expansion of intelligence cooperation between member states and agencies within the EU institutional framework. The need to develop anti-terrorist cooperation based on respect for fundamental rights with states in North Africa, the Middle East, the Western Balkans, and Turkey was also emphasised. The third line of action addresses the issue of cyber security by identifying the need to strengthen the technological capabilities necessary to mitigate threats to the resilience of critical network infrastructure and services as well as to reduce cybercrime. The fourth line refers to energy security by emphasising the concept of energy diplomacy to improve international relations with states that produce energy or have transit infrastructure. The fifth and final line involves developing the concept of public diplomacy, improving the communication of the principles and actions of the Union to citizens, and creating favourable conditions for the development of a healthy media ecosystem.

The second priority direction was built starting from the assumption that existing fragility beyond the borders threatens the vital interests of the Union. Starting from this finding, the Strategy reiterates that it is in the interest of European citizens that the Union invests in the resilience of the states and societies east of the borders EU to Central Asia and from the south of its borders to the center of Africa. The Union’s enlargement policy is a strategic investment in Europe’s security and prosperity. In the current spectrum of enlargement possibilities, challenges such as migration, energy security, terrorism and organised crime are shared with the Western Balkan countries and Turkey. The strategy encourages the development of the good neighbourly partnership and the expansion of cooperation with the countries of the southern Mediterranean. Special attention is paid to the topic of migration, especially in terms of addressing the situation at source, namely in the countries of origin and transit of migrants.

The third priority direction addresses the issue of the integrated approach to conflicts and crises. Considering the reality of the disintegration of fragile states as a result of violent conflicts, the EU proposes a multidimensional approach intervening in all phases of the conflict and acting in practical and principled ways to ensure peace. Conflicts will be addressed through intervention at local, national, regional, and global levels. To ensure the security and stability of the affected areas, the Union must act quickly, responsibly and decisively in the face of emerging crises, especially when they generate an increased risk of terrorism. Special Representatives and delegations are key tools for using preventive diplomacy and mediation involving civil society to prevent the escalation of situations with potential conflict. In addition to prevention and rapid response, the strategy aims to stabilise danger zones by facilitating conflict reconciliation. When the prospect of peace emerges, the Strategy proposes economic measures coupled with diplomacy to reduce the possibility of a resurgence of hostilities and encourage the long-term maintenance of peace agreements.

The fourth priority direction refers to the regional situations in the sphere of EU cooperation. As far as the European region is concerned, the security of the EU member states is threatened by the potentially hostile activities of Russia, which has violated international law in the conflict with Ukraine and threatens regional stability. Finding a common agenda and managing an extended conflict situation is imperative, but it can only be done in compliance with the provisions of international law and democratic values. The resolution of conflicts and the promotion of development as well as respect for human rights are essential elements of achieving peace and prosperity in the countries of the southern Mediterranean, the Middle East and Africa so that this factor facilitates the successful approach to the problems of terrorism, migration, climate change, which has the potential to to lead this region towards creating an environment conducive to the emergence of growth opportunities. The strategy identifies a direct correlation between Asia’s security and EU prosperity. The strategy proposes the development of economic diplomacy relations and engaging China in a bilateral relationship based on respect for the rule of law both in terms of international and domestic legislation. The Transatlantic Partnership appears as an element of particular importance, NATO being the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security for the last 70 years.

The fifth priority direction addresses the issue of governance in the 21st century and in this aspect the Strategy reiterates the EU’s commitment to actively participate in the development of a global order based on international law and the principles stipulated in the United Nations Charter. This desire translates into the Union’s firm commitment to aspire to continuous transformation, in the sense of improving the current system.