Strategic Autonomy


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.


An Architecture fit for Strategic Autonomy - Institutional and operational steps towards a more autonomous EU external action. By Pol Morillas, Director of CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs). Read the first Policy Brief of the Strategic Autonomy series here



Strategic Autonomy: Not without integrationAutonomy is a mindset. An actor that does not think autonomously will never act autonomously, regardless of its capabilities. Five components of that mindset are essential 




Progressive Post Dossier

The EU finds itself increasingly compressed between intensifying global rivalries, while global issues urging collective responses and multilateral solutions continue to unfold. Global topics and the European Union's approach to them are at the core of the latest issue of the Progressive Post, FEPS flagship magazine. Find here the Dossier on European Strategic Autonomy.

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)
External Advisor: Edward Knudsen, Doctoral researcher, University of Oxford and Affiliate Research Fellow, Jacques Delors Centre


  • Giorgios Papakonstantinou, School of Transnational Governance, EUI and former Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change and Minister of Finance
  • Sebastian Dullien, Research Director, Institut für Makroökonomie und Konjunkturforschung (IMK), Macroeconomic Policy Institute, Hans-Böckler Foundation
  • Elina Ribakova, Deputy Chief Economist, International Institute of Finance (IIF)
  • Elvire Fabry, Senior Research Fellow, Jacques Delors Institute 


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


related resources