As the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent Russian invasion of Ukraine have fundamentally altered the dynamics of economic integration, and the rivalry between the US and China increasingly points towards a tectonic shift from the multilateral rules-based trading system, strategic autonomy has taken centre stage in EU policy discourse as a potential redress to the risks stemming from this shift. But what is it? And what does it actually imply?
The EU’s pursuit of strategic autonomy fundamentally requires reducing reliance on other nations. Plunging headlong into a flurry of protectionist policies, however, will not ensure economic security, nor future prosperity. On the contrary, it will contribute to a global trading system that is even more fragmented, in clear contrast to long-standing EU strategic goals. Crucially, strategic autonomy implies maintaining global partnerships and striking a fine balance between openness and security of supply.