The European Union’s Capacity to Act: Main Security Challenges in 2019

This annual security review aims to give an overview of the main security challenges the European Union (EU) faced as a regional power in 2019. The Working Group on Security and Defence’s seven researchers each tackled one key issue, presenting the state of play, context, analyzing developments, and identifying possible future strategies to address these challenges. This edition covers a total of seven issues, divided between two categories: “Europe’s Foreign and Security Policy Challenges” and “Europe’s Domestic Challenges.” Each article under these headings reflect upon one aspect of the EU’s posture.

Towards its external environment, what is the political line the EU appears to be taking? Is there a new role to play on the global security stage as the United States (US) seems to waver on its role as Europe’s security provider? In light of an uncertain US partner, the security review places EU relations to Russia and China as a priority policy area to examine. Finally, climate change, conceptualized as the “invisible threat,” poses future challenges, unseen now, the EU must start thinking about today.

Looking inwards, structural, institutional and domestic challenges undermine efforts to address many of these external issues. Lack of cohesion affects several fields, let alone the structure of common security and defence cooperation framework. Transnational challenges, such as technology and digital markets, require a certain level of political capital to be addressed. However, the rise of right-wing extremism has threatened the stability of the political landscape in Europe, draining political energy as national government’s fight for the survival of the democratic mainstream. Such domestic challenges must be resolved before external security challenges can successfully be addressed as a collective bloc.

As 2020 marks the entrance into a new decade full of new challenges for multilateralism and international relations, the EU has a decisive year ahead to prove its capacity to address main security challenges.

Click here to read the full review. 

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