EPRS Admin By / October 7, 2021

Strategic Compass process timeline

Strategic Compass process timeline

Strategic Compass process timeline

The first step in the Strategic Compass process was carried out in the autumn of 2020, under the German Presidency of the Council, and consisted of a threat analysis to identify the nature and severity of threats facing the EU over the short to medium term (i.e. 2025 to 2030). This is the first time EU Members have undertaken a ‘comprehensive, 360 degree’ analysis based on assessments and inputs from the 27 intelligence services, coordinated by the Intelligence and Situation Centre. The analysis was presented to EU Member States in November 2020, who provided input to the document, but it was not submitted to a vote in order to avoid politicising it.
According to the EEAS, the threat analysis is a classified report identifying key trends in the global and regional environment, as well as to the EU itself, based on the four baskets of the Compass. These include, among other things, slowing globalisation, growing economic rivalry between global powers, climate change and competition for resources, migratory pressures, and threats to the multilateral system, as well as regional instability, conflict, state fragility, inter-state tensions, external influences and the destabilising impact of non-state actors. Emphasis is placed on ‘new threats’ emanating from technological developments fuelling hybrid warfare, including disruptive technologies, disinformation, and other non-military sources of influence, as well as the terrorist threat. According to a report by the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), the threat analysis made for a sobering account of European security over the next five to ten years. However, a Jacques Delors Centre report cautions that a ‘real ranking of threats’ had probably been avoided, given the political sensitivity, raising a risk of ending up with a ‘Christmas tree approach’ to the list of threats.
The 2021 Portuguese Presidency of the Council launched the second phase of the process, the structured strategic dialogue, which entails informal discussions among Member States to set concrete strategic objectives and timelines. They were initially framed around a scoping paper sent to the Member States by the EEAS, later complemented by four papers, one per basket, which together form the ‘skeleton’ of the Compass. While the papers remains confidential, reports suggest that they recommend clear objectives on what the EU and its Member States should do in the field of security and defence, defining ‘political orientations, goals and specific objectives’.


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