borrell12_pepifotoGetty Images_EUcompass pepifoto/Getty Images

A Strategic Compass for Europe

The European Union is at risk of "strategic shrinkage," owing to geopolitical, economic, and ideological pressures from all sides. Safeguarding European citizens, interests, and values will require new thinking about the EU's security and defense responsibilities and the capacities it needs to fulfill them.

BRUSSELS – A compass helps one find one’s way, and the “Strategic Compass” that I have drafted at the behest of the European Council will serve as an operational guide for the European Union’s development and decision-making on security and defense. It is now heading to EU foreign affairs and defense ministers for discussions next week.

The compass is designed to answer three questions: Which challenges and threats do we face? How can we better pool our assets and manage them effectively? And what is the best way to project Europe’s influence as both a regional and global actor?

Our overall threat analysis shows clearly that Europe is in danger. The EU risks what I have called a “strategic shrinkage.” This can be perceived from three points of view. First, our economic reach is becoming increasingly circumscribed. Thirty years ago, the EU represented one-quarter of the world’s wealth; in 20 years, it will account for just over 10%. Our demographic shrinkage develops similarly: By the end of this century, Europe will account for less than 5% of the world’s population.