The European Union Global Strategy


The first European Security Strategy (ESS) dates back to December 2003. Against the backdrop of the war in Iraq and a deeply divided Europe, it was out of necessity that this strategy was drawn up under the leadership of High Representative Javier Solana. Since 2003, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has been further developed. The implementation of the ESS was strengthened in 2008, but in view of the radical changes in the security environment in recent years, the need for a new strategy was evident.

In 2015, High Representative Federica Mogherini was mandated by the European Council to develop a new strategy. The Global Strategy for the EU's foreign and security policy was presented to the European Council in June 2016. The guidelines given to the CFSP are detailed in this document entitled "Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe". 

The EUGS bases the EU's external action around 5 main strands:

  • The security of the Union
  • State and societal resilience to the East and South.
  • An integrated approach to conflicts
  • Cooperative regional orders
  • Global Governance for the 21st Century

In the area of security and defence, the EUGS identifies three strategic priorities:

  • responding to external conflicts and crises,
  • building capacities of partner countries,
  • protecting the Union and its citizens.

To realise this vision of EUGS, the Foreign Affairs Council drew up an implementation plan in November 2016, setting a new level of ambition.

Almost simultaneously, the European Commission launched the European Defence Action Plan. This plan is based on three pillars:

  • Set up a European Defence Fund to support investment in joint research and the joint development of defence equipment and technologies,
  • Foster investments in SMEs, start-ups, mid-caps and other suppliers to the defence industry,
  • Strengthen the Single Market for defence.

The Global Strategy in the area of security and defence has been translated into various actions and initiatives:

  • The first step was the creation of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) as a permanent operational command echelon for non-executive military missions.
  • The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the area of security and defence policy was launched in December 2017 by 25 Member States. The aim is to strengthen defence cooperation both in the development of military capabilities and in the operational provision of these capabilities. The implementation and fulfilment of the legally binding commitments undertaken by the participating Member States is assessed annually.
  • PESCO is closely linked to the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), which was created to improve transparency and coordination among all member states in the area of national defence planning.
  • Finally, the establishment of a new financial instrument outside the EU budget, the European Peace Facility (EPF), is intended to give a new impetus to the CSDP by making it possible to finance operational actions under the CFSP with military or defence implications. This is particularly the case for the supply of the basic equipment required for effective and sustainable training and instruction of the Armed Forces of the beneficiary countries of military training and advisory missions (such as the EUTM), equipment which cannot be financed from the EU budget.

Collaboration with third countries actively participating in missions and operations is also essential to increase their effectiveness. Closer collaboration with the UN, NATO, the OSCE and the African Union is in line with the integrated approach to crisis and conflict management.

Cooperation between the EU and NATO is of paramount importance for Belgium, which is a member of both organisations. The EU-NATO Joint Declaration that emerged from the NATO Warsaw Summit in July 2016 created a new dynamic in cooperation between the two organisations. In addition to intensified political dialogue, 74 concrete action points have since been elaborated in seven different areas: hybrid threats, cyber defence, resilience, capacity building, maritime security, the defence industry and exercises. The added value and need for cooperation was confirmed in a new EU-NATO Joint Declaration, signed in Brussels on 10 July 2018. It emphasises the progress to be made regarding military mobility, the fight against terrorism, resilience to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) hazards and the promotion of the agenda for women, peace and security.