Strategic Autonomy – pathways to progressive action


About the Project

Does the EU have the capacity and agency to set priorities and make decisions autonomously in its external action? What are the necessary political, institutional and material steps to get there? How can strategic autonomy help the EU to face the challenges within and beyond European borders?

To answer these questions, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), in cooperation with the Brussels office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the Fondation-Jean-Jaurès, launches "Strategic Autonomy – pathways to progressive action", a new flagship research project aimed at investigating the concept of 'European strategic autonomy' (ESA).

Despite the concept getting more central in EU affairs circles every day, there is a persistent lack of clarity on what European strategic autonomy actually means. For this reason - and with the debate over ESA's definition, content and implications in full swing - it's time for progressive thinkers to provide an in-depth analysis of the concept and set an agenda on where to direct and how to operationalize the term.

The Working Groups

High-level policy experts and academics will address the topic from three complementary perspectives - namely 1) Security and Defence, 2) Economics and Trade, and 3) Digital and Technology - and will provide analysis and concrete, actionable recommendations for policymakers.

1. Working Group on Security and Defence

Project Lead: Vassilis Ntousas, Senior International Relations Policy Advisor, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS)
External Advisor: Nicoletta Pirozzi, Head of Programme on European Union and Institutional Relations Manager, IAI (Istituto Affari Internazionali)


  • Pol Morillas, Director, CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs)
  • Claudia Major, Head of Research Division, International Security, SWP (German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin)
  • Sven Biscop, Director, Europe in the World Programme, Egmont – The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Ana Juncos, Professor European Politics, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol

2. Working Group on Digital and technology

Group Leader: Justin Nogarede, Digital Policy Adviser, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS)
External Advisor: Patryk Pawlak, Brussels Executive Officer, European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS)


  • Andrea Renda, Senior Research Fellow, CEPS (Centre for European Policy Studies)
  • Paul Timmers, Research Associate, Oxford University
  • Julia Anderson, Economist, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
  • Katja Bego, Principal Researcher and Data Scientist, Technology Futures and Explorations Team, NESTA

3. Working Group on Economics and Trade

Group Leader: David Rinaldi, Director of Studies and Policy, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS)

More information coming soon


The publication of the first Policy Briefs is expected by October-November 2021. We will publish them here. 

You can follow the progress of this research project by following FEPS on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. 

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