The Strategic Compass: Charting a New Course for the EU’s Security and Defence Policy

The EU has embarked on a process to develop a ‘Strategic Compass’ for its security and defence policy. This two-year process began in June 2020 and will conclude under the French EU Council Presidency in spring 2022. A German initiative, it is meant to narrow the gap between ambition and reality when it comes to the Union’s external action; facilitate the development of a shared strategic culture; and clarify the overall image of EU defence cooperation that Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the European Defence Fund (EDF), the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and other post-2016 initiatives have created. Broadly speaking, the Strategic Compass seeks to boost the EU’s ability to navigate through international challenges. It is driven by the member states and the European External Action Service (EEAS), with the involvement of the Commission and the European Defence Agency (EDA). To be successful, the Strategic Compass process has to be as concrete as possible in outlining how the EU should handle even its most difficult challenges. A compass is only useful if it can tell the navigator where north is. Likewise, for the Strategic Compass to be successful, the EU needs to set a clearly defined strategic north.