Strategic Autonomy: A Spectrum of Choices for the EU and Ireland

Mark Dempsey11th March 20211min
This analytical briefing explores the spectrum of strategic autonomy policy options available to the EU in an increasingly multipolar world, where Member States stand on the issues, and the possible implications for a small open liberal economy like Ireland.

Author: Alexander Conway

The UK’s departure from the EU, China’s economic rise, US global withdrawal and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have all thrown the EU’s dependency on external actors into sharp relief. Strategic autonomy has been proposed as the EU’s “number one goal” for the 21st century in order to enable the Union to better assert itself on the global stage and protect its values, citizens and firms at home.

Since its origins as a more defence and security dominated concept, strategic autonomy has expanded into industrial, competition, and trade policy as a means of maintaining multilateralism and global free trade. At the heart of strategic autonomy is the guiding vision that the EU will work with like-minded partners where it can, and act alone to preserve its interests where it must.

Ahead of the 25-26 March European Council Summit, this analytical brief explores the background to strategic autonomy as a concept, where different Member States position themselves on the topic, and the spectrum of policy options available – ranging from more closed to more open stances. It concludes with an assessment of the possible implications of these options for small, open liberalised Member States like Ireland.

You can read the explainer here.