Written by Andrés García Higuera with Clemens Weichert.
Open strategic autonomy is about ensuring that the EU has the capacity to cope alone if necessary but without ruling out cooperation whenever possible. It goes some steps beyond smart supply chain management by taking into account geopolitics as well as economic factors. It relies on foresight to identify threats and ensures resilience by anticipating the required responses. Could the resulting preparedness also prevent crises by normalising situations that would otherwise become emergencies?
In recent years, the world has gone through repeated crises –the economic crisis, migration, Russia’s invasion of Crimea, Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, the shortage of semiconductors, Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, the energy crisis, rogue cyberattacks, political tensions with Asia, etc. As the European Union (EU) is close both geopolitically and economically to Ukraine, the impact of the war on its economy is particularly acute. The OECD recently published a simulation of the likely effects of the war and the commodity price changes, showing drops in growth almost twice as large in the eurozone as in the United States. While the consequences of Russia’s actions and the subsequent disruptions to European supply chains are only now beginning to be fully appreciated, the EU needs to respond to these crises as supply chains for food, energy, raw materials, satellite communications and semiconductors, among others, are currently at risk. Also, very recently, the COVID-19 crisis put enormous pressure on health supply chains for face masks, respirators, hydroalcoholic gel, tests and vaccines.
According to the dictionary definition, a ‘crisis’ is ‘a time of great disagreement, confusion, or suffering’. In some of the recent instances of crisis, it was the material shortages of strategic products that really made the situation dire and brought about disagreement, confusion and a considerable part of the suffering. The strategic impact of logistics has long been been acknowledged . Napoleon, for example, was aware of the need to take it into account to increase the mobility of his artillery and supply his troops. He offered a prize for new methods to improve food preservation, which led to inventions such as canned food. Napoleon sought to make war situations less disruptive for his side, while the enemy would be hard put to cope. However, he failed to grasp the overarching scale of the problem; can openers were only invented 50 years after canned food.
Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘What if open strategic autonomy could break the cycle of recurring crises?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.
Listen to podcast ‘What if open strategic autonomy could break the cycle of recurring crises?’ on YouTube.