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European Defence: The Challenge of Strategic Autonomy

14 October 2019, 14:30
RUSI Whitehall
RUSI Members Only
This presentation by Senator Hélène Conway-Mouret will address the work of the French Senate's Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee, their report on European Defence and will further explore the concept of Europe’s strategic autonomy.

Europe is increasingly required to assume greater responsibility for its own security. The debate about strengthening Europe’s abilities to use force in extreme situations or, more broadly, to act in defence of its own interests is increasingly articulated around concepts such as strategic autonomy and – especially in France – the idea of a “European sovereignty”.

But although there is a growing body of literature on this topic, the concepts are rarely defined in a coherent manner. Nor is there much of an analysis about their practical and political implications.

Senator Hélène Conway-Mouret was Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of the French citizens living abroad with Laurent Fabius. Furthermore, she was Secretary and the Vice-President of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee in the Senate. Recently, she was one of the two rapporteurs of an information report compiled on behalf of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee of the French Senate, with the precise objective of filling these gaps. The report she co-authored looks at the principles and priorities required to make independent decisions in matters of foreign policy and security.

The report, which calls on the French government to be precise in what it is advocating and to refrain “from expressions that are ambiguous, or not easily translatable”, makes 12 concrete proposals, including innovative ways by which British participations should be secured for European defence efforts after Britain’s eventual departure from the EU.

In her presentation, Senator Conway-Mouret will provide details about the work of the Committee and conclusions of the report, and will then engage in a broader debate about the concept of Europe’s strategic autonomy. A university academic by profession, Ms Conway-Mouret is a member of France’s Socialist Party, and has represented for almost a decade the constituency of French citizens living abroad in the Senate in Paris.

Open to RUSI Members Only

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