EU Strategic Compass for Security and Defence

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine War caused the European Union to adopt a document, on 21 March 2022, under which it would assume more responsibility for EU security and defence. The document adopted by the Council of European Union is called the “Strategic Compass”. In this study, the prominent issues in the aforementioned document will be addressed and the information obtained will be interpreted at the end of the study.

The document begins with the statement “For a European Union that protects its citizens, values ​​and interests and contributes to international peace and security”.

While the document summarizes the current international political situation, Russia is very clearly defined as the aggressor in the Russia-Ukraine war. In the document; It is stated that the war in Europe is back, together with Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.

In the document, it is highlighted that the major geopolitical changes have challenged the ability of the EU to develop its vision and defend its interests. Emphasizing that there is a period of strategic competition and complex security threats, it is mentioned that hybrid threats increased in terms of frequency and impact in this political environment. Underlining that access to the high seas, space and digital space is becoming more and more controversial, it is stated that the EU faced with increasing economic and energy forcing initiatives.

The statement in the document that “the EU is more united than ever before” draws attention. The EU asserts that by supporting Ukraine against Russian military aggression, it is determined to restore peace in Europe together with its partners. It is stated that a stronger and more capable EU in the field of security and defence will contribute positively to global security and will complement NATO, which continues to be the basis of collective defence for its members.

With full respect to the principles set out in the treaties, including the principles of inclusivity, reciprocity and EU decision-making autonomy, the transatlantic relationship and EU-NATO cooperation are key to overall security. The EU continues to support the global rules-based order with the United Nations at its center. The EU will strengthen its strategic partnership with NATO, additionally, it will increase cooperation with regional partners, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), African Union (AU) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

It is stated in the document that the more hostile security environment that has emerged forces the EU to increase its capacity and willingness to take action. In the “Strategic Compass”, it is stressed that the EU has to increase its presence, effectiveness and visibility in its surroundings and on a global scale through joint efforts and investments. It is claimed that together with partners, by following a strategic action plan, it is possible to help shape the global future.

The Strategic Compass focuses on achieving the following for the EU’s security and defence agenda:

1. To ensure a joint assessment of the strategic environment, the threats and challenges faced and their impact on the EU.

2. To be more adaptable to actions in the field of security and defence and to develop a sense of common purpose.

3. To identify new methods and means to develop the collective capability to defend the security of EU citizens and the EU.

4. Setting clear targets and timeline/milestones to measure progress made.

To achieve these, the EU commits to the following priority activities under four headings (Act, Secure, Investment and Partner).


EU; When a crisis arises, it will do the following to act quickly and firmly, if possible with partners and, if necessary, alone:

-Civil and Military Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions will be strengthened by providing more flexible mandates, encouraging rapid decision-making, and providing greater financial solidarity.

– An EU Rapid Deployment Capacity consisting of 5000 soldiers will be developed to be used in different types of crisis.

-The command and control structure of the EU, especially Military Planning and Execution Capabilities, will be strengthened. Military mobility and regular exercises will be developed, and preparedness and cooperation will be increased.


Actions to anticipate threats, ensure safe access to strategic areas and protect EU citizens:

-Intelligence capacity will be strengthened to improve situational awareness and strategic insights.

– An EU Hybrid capacity toolbox will be created, which brings together different tools to detect and respond to various hybrid threats.

– EU Cyber ​​Defence Policy will be further developed in order to better prepare and respond to cyberattacks. To this end, an EU Space Strategy for security and defence will be developed, and activities in the sea, air and space fields will be strengthened. Maritime presence will be expanded to other seas, starting from the Indo-Pacific.


Actions to be taken to invest more in innovative technologies, fill strategic gaps, and reduce technological and industrial dependency:

– The EU will improve its capacity building and planning capability to better respond to operational realities, new threats and challenges.

– In order to facilitate the operations to be carried out by the EU; joint solutions will be sought to develop next-generation capabilities in all operational areas such as high-end naval platforms, future combat air systems, space-based capabilities and main battle tanks.

-The European Defence Fund will be utilized to create a Defence Innovation Hub within the European Defence Agency.


EU envisages strengthening cooperation with its partners in order to meet common threats and challenges. To this end:

-Strategic partnership with NATO and the UN will be strengthened through political dialogue as well as operational and thematic cooperation. EU will enhance cooperation with regional partners, including the OSCE, the AU and ASEAN.

-EU will increase cooperation with bilateral partners who share the same values ​​and interests, such as the US, Norway, Canada, the UK and Japan. Special partnerships will be developed in the Western Balkans, eastern and southern neighborhood, and in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

– An EU Security and Defence Partnership Forum will be developed to work more closely and effectively with partners to tackle common issues.

The conclusions reached as a result of the examination of the EU’s Strategic Compass for Security and Defence document can be summarized as follows:

– The document mentions Russia’s unjust and unjustified aggression against Ukraine, ignoring Russia’s concern for NATO’s eastward expansion.

– With the statement that access to the open seas, space and digital space has become more difficult, China’s attitude towards the countries in the East and South China Sea is criticized; It is stated that cyber security is gaining more and more importance, by implying threats originating from China and Russia.

-In the context of defence and security, the EU demands decision-making autonomy from NATO. However, this autonomy does not mean breaking relations with NATO. The document emphasizes that EU-NATO cooperation is the key to overall security and that the EU is a complement to NATO. While statements in the document enable the US to focus on China in the Indo-Pacific region; It is understood that the EU will assume responsibility to eliminate a possible threat that Russia or another country may pose in Europe or its immediate surroundings.

-The EU reveals that it is in favor of the continuation of the global rules-based order, with the UN at its center. Thus, especially China’s demands for the reform of the UN are not met in the West.

-It is emphasized that while the EU strengthens its strategic partnership with NATO, cooperation with regional partners, including OSCE, AU and ASEAN, will be increased. There is no mention of cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and/or BRICS, both of them include China and Russia.

-On page 42 of the document, it is emphasized that the cooperation to be developed with Turkey depends on Turkey’s attitude. This situation points to a period in which EU-Turkey relations can be discussed more seriously in future.

-With the statement “We can help shape the global future”, the EU reveals the limits of its capacity and accepts the leadership of the USA.

-The EU sees that it is necessary to ensure the harmony of the member states in the Union in terms of defence and security, and to develop a sense of common purpose. In this sense, it is thought that the Russia-Ukraine War increased the security concerns of some countries became members of the EU during the post-Cold War era.

-This document also shows that Europe will enter a period in which armament will increase.

-The EU Security and Defence Partnership Forum, together with the partners determined by the EU, can pave the way for the acceleration of the institutionalization of the EU Common Defence and Security Policy.

-With this document, the world is divided into two as “West and its partners -the Rest”, similar to the Cold War period.

-The “Strategic Compass” lays out an ambitious plan to strengthen the EU’s security and defence policy by 2030. The realization of this plan, which is in line with the Indo-Pacific Document of the US, depends on the determined attitude of the leading members of the EU, the approach of Germany, as well as France, will be decisive in this regard.


Council of the European Union. (21 March 2022). A Strategic Compass for Security and Defence

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