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Strategic Compass: Developing strategic principles

Met dank overgenomen van Duits voorzitterschap Europese Unie 2e helft 2020 (Duits Voorzitterschap), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 25 augustus 2020.

A European Union that acts globally requires achievable strategic objectives. This will ensure clarity within the EU and at the same time increase the European Union’s credibility with third parties.

Being clear about our objectives is the most important requirement for maintaining our ability to act and respond. The Strategic Compass will point the way for the European Union’s actions in the future.

New Security Policy Document

EU member states have differing strategic cultures. Priorities and perspectives also vary from country to country. This is what makes the EU so strong and allows us to take a 360-degree view of the world. At the same time, the Strategic Compass as the new security policy document must be based on a broad political consensus and a strong political will to act. We must therefore identify those threats and challenges in particular that relate to all Europeans and must specify objectives to which all Europeans are committed.

The overarching priorities have already been defined in the EU Global Strategy. EU member states now aim to specify how these priorities can be implemented and will jointly decide which capabilities the EU should - and should not - provide with respect to crisis management, enabling and enhancing partners and protecting the Union and its citizens. Reaching a consensus on these core aspects will permanently strengthen the European Union’s ability to act.

A key goal of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union is therefore to advance the development of a Strategic Compass. This will facilitate a more rapid response in the event of a security crisis. Additionally, these strategic guidelines can be used as a basis to determine which instruments and capabilities the EU needs.

Threat Analysis as a Basis for the Strategic Compass

To begin with, a joint threat analysis will be developed. This is unprecedented at EU level. It was agreed that the EU High Representative will present this analysis by the end of 2020. EU member states will provide input, but they will not vote on the final document. Based on the threat analysis, member states will then enter a structured strategic dialogue and share their thoughts on the objectives. There are four main topics: crisis management, resilience, capabilities and partnerships.

Specifying the objectives in this way will allow us to determine which capabilities are necessary and which priorities should be pursued jointly. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis in particular has highlighted the importance of solidarity and of the capacity for joint action within the EU. Impressions gained and lessons learned during the pandemic will also be taken into account in the Strategic Compass. One thing is already clear: Further steps must be taken towards improving cooperation in the field of security and defence. The Strategic Compass is intended to point us in the right direction.


Together with the Federal Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence is responsible for strengthening and further developing the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). In addition to numerous operations and missions of the EU, many important processes are underway in 2020 that the ministry is pushing ahead during the German Council Presidency. Examples include the strategic evaluation of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) or the conclusion of the European Defence Fund (EDF). The Federal Government and its ministries have developed the national Council Presidency programme and the trio programme. The Ministry of Defence has set ambitious goals for itself that are reflected in the programme. In order to implement and accompany these programmes, all ministries will be organising numerous events throughout the second half of 2020. Further information can be found at the Federal Ministry of Defence.

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