Written by Stef Clement
Edited by Miguel Andres Castro
Supervised by Paul Dybjer
‘Strategic autonomy’ has become a buzzword in Brussels since it was revived by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017. To conceptualise the problems facing the European Union (EU) and the continent, Macron (2017) wished to create autonomy in areas of strategic importance, such as defence, energy and high-end semiconductors. While this initially meant cultivating independence from all external actors, other EU Member States have clarified that this should occur in line with allies and partners like the United States (US) and Japan (Tocci, 2021).
The term was first adopted in the European Commission’s Communication Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector of 2013, whereby a ‘certain degree of strategic autonomy’ is necessary ‘to be a credible and reliable partner’ (European Commission, 2013, p. 3). The Communication posits that ‘Europe must be able to decide and to act without depending on the capabilities of third parties’ (European Commission, 2013, p. 3). Special notice is given to the security of supply, access to critical technologies and operational sovereignty (European Commission, 2013, p. 3).