Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Please note that all times are shown in the time zone of the conference. The current conference time is: 17th Oct 2021, 01:43:01pm BST

Session Overview
Panel 510: Strategic Autonomy and the European Defence Industry
Tuesday, 07/Sept/2021:
11:30am - 1:00pm

Session Chair: David Galbreath, University of Bath

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European Strategic Autonomy In The Indo-Pacific: Towards European Strategic Convergence?

Niels van Willigen, Nico Blarel

Leiden University, Netherlands, The

Recently three European Union (EU) member-states, i.e. France, Germany and the Netherlands, have formulated a strategy for the Indo-Pacific region. What is notable is that all three countries are pushing for an EU strategy as well. In this paper, we analyze these three strategies in the light of the EU’s ambition to become strategically autonomous. The main objective is to understand how these three national strategies relate to an autonomous EU strategy for the Indo-Pacific. Strategic autonomy was introduced in the EUs Global Strategy (EUGS) published in 2016. In our paper, we first conceptualize strategic autonomy and explore the conditions under which European strategic autonomy may emerge. Secondly, we analyze the three national strategies and evaluate to what extent the strategies can be considered as realistic building blocks for an autonomous European Indo-Pacific strategy. Finally, we elaborate on the role of the EU’s partners in the region; how do their strategies relate to the three Western strategies and to a potential EU strategy?

What Does The EU Mean By Strategic Autonomy? Securing Dependencies From Supply Chains, Connectivity Blocks And Industrial Defence Policy

Diego Borrajo

University of Deusto, Spain

This article explores the rise of EU Strategic Autonomy and examines how the concept has been increasingly mainstreamed into CFSP/CSDP. Drawing on different characterisations of the concept, I examine how the rhetoric of connectivity, uncertainty and international shocks impacts on EU External Action through the development of three increasingly important policy initiatives: the security of supply chains, the EU's Connectivity Strategy with Asia and the development of the PESCO/European Defence Action Plan. I hypothesise that the development of these three policy initiatives within this rhetoric, together with the context of COVID-19, provide evidence of a network-based dimension of Strategic Autonomy: CFSP/CSDP as an interplay of practices to identify, prioritise and secure favourable dependencies and curb unfavourable ones.

What role for the EU in the quest for emerging technologies? An empirical assessment of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems

Diego Badell, Lewin Schmitt

Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), Spain

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) or lethal autonomous weapons systems may have a disruptive impact on national security in the years to come. While the US intends to keep its know-how in the field of AI and defence, China is becoming a fast follower by investing heavily in this technology. In this new competition, the EU is still searching for a role to play. Prior research analysing the dual-use export regime, or the European airspace drone regulation has provided that the strategic advantage of the EU resides in its regulatory power. This article considers that if the EU wants to become a leader in AI it should not be limited to be a reactive regulatory actor but is in need of being a proactive regulator in front of the fast-paced technological developments. The EU might become a new actor in the field of emerging technologies as this approach is now being echoed by the European Commission, Member States such as France and Germany and is starting to be echoed in international fora such as the UN CCW. The case of autonomous weapons sheds light on the shifting attitude of the EU: is still willing to ensure the existence of a trustworthy AI by pouring research funds but at the same time advances guidelines that evolve alongside technological developments. To answer this question, we resort to semi-structured interviews and EU official documents.

Investigating the Industry - Innovation - Defence Triangle in the EU

Jocelyn Mawdsley1, Bruno Oliveira Martins2

1Newcastle University, United Kingdom; 2PRIO, Norway

Over recent decades, and for different reasons, industry, innovation and defence policies were developed by different EU institutions without much crossover. However, new agendas on strategic autonomy in both geopolitical and geo-economic terms now bring these policies together. Where do agendas overlap and what are the inconsistencies? In the current European Commission formation, EU policies for industry and innovation are distributed across three Directorate-Generals: DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG Growth), DG Defence Industries and Space (DG Defis), and DG for Research and Innovation (DG RTE). This article investigates the processes by which these different agendas (do not) communicate, which objectives they pursue, and how normatively compatible they are, in a time where industry and innovation are key for contemporary defence policies. We mobilize literature from innovation studies and EU security studies to investigate some of the underlying currents sustaining the EU's growing engagement with defence and military R&D.

Small States’ Defence Industries and PESCO: Role of Private Actors in Shaping National Policy to Defence Integration in Europe

Tomáš Weiss1, Sandra Fernandes2, Miroslava Pisklová1

1Charles University, Czech Republic; 2University of Minho, Portugal

Small states are often considered rule takers, rather than rule makers in international relations. Within Europe, the membership in the EU and NATO has helped small states “punch above their weight” but they still remain structurally disadvantaged. Small states have less personnel, narrower expertise and often rely on external actors for information and advice, be it other countries, institutions, or private actors.

This paper aims to study the role of private actors, companies and associations of defence industry, in shaping small states’ position on PESCO. PESCO sits on the intersection between defence strategy and industrial policy. Looking at Czechia and Portugal, two PESCO members of similar size but different defence industry tradition, it asks how policymaking changes when significant private expertise and interest is present or absent. Anchored in literature on small states and foreign policy analysis, the paper builds on document analysis and semi-structured interviews with representatives of MoDs, MFAs as well as defence industry. It tests the hypothesis that the defence industry provided crucial input in small state’s decision-making on PESCO by feeding in expertise and information that is otherwise lacking and thus managed to shape the small state’s policy to its advantage.

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