You are currently viewing From Theory to Practice: Understanding Nuclear Deterrence and Sharing Agreements in European Security

From Theory to Practice: Understanding Nuclear Deterrence and Sharing Agreements in European Security

Written by: Carmen Mitrea

Edited by: Zoi Sofologi

Supervised by: Syuzanna Kirakosyan

The European Union faces the imperative of increased defence autonomy. As geopolitical dynamics evolve and traditional alliances undergo scrutiny, the EU must assert its strategic independence by bolstering its defence capabilities. 

Over the years, statements by European leaders, including but not limited to President Emmanuel Macron (President of the French Republic, 2022), Chancellor Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany, 2018), and President Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission, 2023), often stress the need for the EU to reduce its reliance on external actors, particularly in defence and security matters.

This InfoFlash investigates the complex interplay between European defence autonomy ambitions and nuclear deterrence on the continent. The study addresses three key dimensions exploring the feasibility and implications of achieving autonomy of European defence, specifically considering nuclear deterrence calculations.

Firstly, the InfoFlash examines the historical role of nuclear deterrence and internationally agreed stockpile limits and postures, bearing in mind the international regimes and treaties governing the nuclear weapons sphere. Secondly, the current status of nuclear deterrence capabilities across European nations, delving into the intricacies of their arsenals, and assessing the degree to which extracontinental actors, namely the USA as a partner in NATO, contribute to ensuring nuclear deterrence in Europe. This analysis sheds light on the existing dependencies and collaborative efforts that characterise the European nuclear deterrence landscape.

This InfoFlash does not endorse the militarisation of Europe, nor does it support increased nuclear weapons proliferation on the continent. In essence, the primary argument focuses on improving the distribution of nuclear versus conventional deterrence and better-shared burden allocation between the EU and NATO. The article also discusses the potential decrease of the role of nuclear weapons in security policies.

By reducing its reliance on external actors and enhancing its own defence capabilities, the European Union can better address emerging security threats, assert its role as a global actor, and safeguard the interests of its citizens. Moreover, a more autonomous and conventional EU defence posture could contribute to greater stability and security in the broader European neighbourhood, fostering a more resilient and cohesive Union capable of responding effectively to the challenges of the 21st century.

The findings are intended to inform policy discussions and strategic considerations for European nations navigating the intricate landscape of nuclear deterrence and ambitions of defence autonomy.