EU’s Strategic Compass: More than just another policy paper

When, on 17 June 2020, EU defence Ministers invited the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) and Head of EDA to prepare, in close cooperation with Member States, “a comprehensive 360 degrees analysis of the full range of threats and challenges, which will provide the background for the Member States to develop a Strategic Compass document to be adopted by the Council in 2022”, nobody imagined that the final approval of the Compass, in March 2022, would coincide with the return of war on European soil.

Rewritten between 24 February and 21 March to reflect Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the Strategic Compass for Security and Defence has become the EU’s new security and defence instruction manual - both for responding instantly to a war situation in the middle of Europe, and for advancing on the path of European defence cooperation and integration in the longer term.

In the following pages, we dive into the Compass’ substance and hear from key decision-makers what makes this document, to which EDA also contributed, a uniquely ambitious and operational guide for strengthening European Defence.


“Ukraine war confirms need to define a long-term strategy to ensure the defence of Europe”

In the following exclusive interview with European Defence Matters, the French Chief of Defence (Chef d'État-Major des Armées), General Thierry Burkhard, shares his views and analysis about how the war in Ukraine might affect European defence in the future, and what Europe’s short-, medium- and long-term action should be to boost defence investment and cooperation. He also stresses that collaborative capability development is a “necessity” for France and that his country is keen to shoulder its “right share” of the collective effort to put in place an efficient and credible European military toolbox.


Spare the cost, share the parts

One of the thorniest logistics problems for militaries, especially during operations or distant exercises, is managing spare parts for equipment and weapons systems. Often this is a costly, time-consuming, and labour-intensive activity that must be formally coordinated with specialists back home, either within the military or with external private defence contractors, in order to get parts shipped out. But the European Defence Agency (EDA) and its Member States have long found a neat solution to simplify and speed up things with their “Sharing of Spare Parts” (SoSP) project. 


Escape Room to share

Ensuring swift and safe recovery of military personnel having been isolated from their unit in a hostile environment is an integral part of any military deployment, including EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations. The European Defence Agency (EDA) helps its Member States enhance their Personnel Recovery (PR) capabilities, including training. A new training simulator developed by the Agency is set to bring joint PR tactical training to a new level.