Not one without the other

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 12/06/2022 - 13:17

Not one without the other
Realigning deterrence and arms control in a European quest for strategic stability

With strategic competition between the great powers accelerating, prospects for missile arms control are bleak. The architecture once designed to limit the risks associated with the production, proliferation, deployment and employment of missiles and their technologies has crumbled as existing agreements were abandoned and as strategic and technological shifts rendered remaining ones increasingly inapt. Even though arms control and its demise are often framed as an issue pertaining predominantly to the United States, Russia, and increasingly also China, their security implications stretch well beyond today’s major military powers. Indeed, despite a persistent lack of interest among Europeans over the past decades regarding developments in missile technology and the strategic calculus, their continent’s security is severely affected by these developments. Therefore, and despite limited manoeuvre space for small and middle powers in this field, options must be explored for Europe to actively shape or at least participate in efforts to reinvigorate arms control and more generally stability. Indeed, even if Thucydides’ notion that “the strong do what they can; the weak suffer what they must” applies rather aptly to this field, medium-size missile powers are not left entirely empty-handed.


Lotje Boswinkel and Paul van Hooft - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

With contributions from Michal Gorecki

Wikimedia Commons

Policing the police: Libya & the EU

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 12/01/2022 - 16:33

Policing the police: the EU's struggle to strengthen the security sector in Libya

More than ten years after the ousting of Gaddafi, the Libyan police under the Ministry of Interior are still struggling to effectively carry out their duties across the country. Drawing from 25 interviews conducted with experts, Libyan police officers, civil servants of the Ministry of Interior, and EU officers between June and August 20221, our research found four main obstacles facing the Libyan police force in Western Libya. These are:

  • i) the proliferation of armed groups;
  • ii) divisions within the ruling elite;
  • iii) administrative mismanagement in the security system;
  • and iv) the presence of alternative conflict-resolution mechanisms.

It also emerged that each area comes with its own challenges. Against that background, this policy brief calls for a change in EU policies. We suggest that EU member states align on specific and measurable goals and take a more adaptive and incremental approach. More specifically, the EU could consider identifying a set of measurable and achievable objectives and adapting its policies to the different contexts in which it operates, tailoring its priorities and timescales to different locations.


Nienke van Heukelingen, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute

Matteo Colombo, Junior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute


Realising the EU Rapid Deployment Capacity

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 10/31/2022 - 16:11

Opportunities and pitfalls

When the European Union’s Strategic Compass had almost been completed in late February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. Consequently, the language on Russia in the Compass text was adapted to a more bellicose content. However, the military level of ambition remained unchanged as it had already been agreed informally by the EU member states. At the end of March, when the Council formally adopted the Compass, the EU Rapid Deployment Capacity (RDC) became the new focal point for crisis management tasks in the context of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

Although the attention of strategists, defence planners and armaments experts has shifted further towards strengthening collective defence as a result of the war in Ukraine and the outcome of the NATO Madrid Summit, instability in the areas to Europe’s south and south-east remains the norm rather than the exception. The EU RDC has to provide the EU with the military capability to be deployed in crisis situations when needed, also taking into account that the United States (US) is less likely to act in Europe’s southern neighbourhood in the future. Ambitious targets have been set with regard to the flexible composition of the RDC and to the timeline of its initial operational status in 2025.

This policy brief examines the milestones to be reached towards the year 2025 – in other words ‘what should be done in the near future’. Three aspects are given particular attention: the question of using the existing format of the EU Battlegroups as building blocks for the RDC; the issue of how to speed up decision-making; and the question of capability shortfalls. This is followed by conclusions on the opportunities and pitfalls that the EU and its member states may encounter up until 2025 and beyond.


Dick Zandee, Head of the Security Unit & Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute

Adája Stoetman, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute


The semiconductor and critical raw material ecosystem

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 10/19/2022 - 14:01

Reaching breaking point: The semiconductor and critical raw material ecosystem at a time of great power rivalry

This report covers new ground by specifically outlining pending disruptions in CRM value chains on which the EU relies for its access to semiconductors in the next five and ten years. The report also highlights key green technologies that rely on the same CRM value chains, as disruptions to these chains will also inhibit the energy transition. By doing so, an action plan is proposed for the Netherlands and the EU to deal with the risks and opportunities associated with the dependencies on the CRM needed for semiconductor production and green technologies. The action plan also outlines options to seize the opportunities related to the strengths of the Netherlands, the European Union and other technologically advanced democracies in the semiconductor value chain.  

The report relies on a literature review, desk research, prior research, stakeholder interviews, and expert interviews with both regional and thematic experts from academia, think tanks, government, and the CRM and semiconductor industry. Ten threats that may well disrupt the supply of CRM to Europe or its partners in semiconductor manufacturing (e.g., Taiwan) in both the next five and ten years were identified. Ranking of the threats (probability impact) was done on the basis of a foresight survey in which 49 experts participated. The formulation of the policy implications, opportunities, and recommendations relies on the findings of the previous chapters, additional desk research, and a global expert consultation with representatives from academia, think tanks, government and both the CRM and semiconductor industry from the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and European states.

Download survey and report


Joris Teer and Mattia Bertolini - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

Contributors Survey Outcome: Saskia Heyster, Jeff Amrish Ritoe, Tim Sweijs and Jack Thompson

Contributors Report: Jeff Amrish Ritoe, Saskia Heyster, Tim Sweijs, Rob de Wijk, Michel Rademaker, Martijn Vlaskamp, Irina Patrahau, Jack Thompson, Stella Kim, Raffaele Minicozzi, Adam Meszaros, Giovanni Cisco, and Michal Gorecki.


Wars to come, Europeans to act

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 10/19/2022 - 10:34

A multimethod foresight study into Europe’s military future

“Watch out for War with a Capital W,” this new HCSS report concludes – based on the first comprehensive expert survey to study the future of European defence since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Authors Lotje Boswinkel and Tim Sweijs use a multi-method approach to explore where Europe is most likely to intervene militarily over the next ten years, and lay out a comprehensive policy agenda for European defence policy makers.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has been a strategic wake-up call for European leaders, leading to a boost in defence budgets across Europe and prompting Finland and Sweden to find shelter under the collective defence umbrella of NATO. If one thing is clear, Europe will need to assume a greater role in maintaining peace and stability in its own region and neighbourhood.

Using a multi-method approach, which includes the largest survey of European defence experts since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, consulting more than 80 experts from 22 countries, this report explores where Europe is most likely to intervene militarily over the next ten years. It anticipates where armed conflict and instability are most likely to occur, how European interests will be affected and lays out a comprehensive policy agenda for European policy makers.

Even with the current reinforcements of military postures across Europe, material and political constraints will not disappear. Therefore future-proof choices need to be made that address the principal security challenges and pinpoint necessary policy responses. This report includes predictive models of intrastate armed conflict and addresses the ‘dangerous dyads’, geopolitical features that make interstate wars likely, which would be most consequential for European interests.

There is an urgent need to think about necessary investments and capability portfolios in the long term, including but also beyond the current war in Ukraine. For fundamental decisions to be future-proof, a reflection on the future security landscape and operating environment is required. That is where the present foresight study comes in.

The study concludes that conflict between the major military powers is a defining feature of the current era and so European leaders must “Watch out for War with a capital W”. Europe must escape entrapment through a strengthened military posture combined with sustained diplomatic efforts. Moreover, efforts must be made to prevent and contain interstate conflict, particularly where dangerous dyads in Europe and its immediate neighbourhood come into play. Policy makers must continue to address global instability factors such as state fragility, polarisation and the democratisation of military technologies. Globally, policy makers must continue to address the climate-security nexus resulting from global warming.

This means an ever-larger variety of military capabilities will be required and expected from European states in a growing number of regions and across a growing number of issues.

Download report


Lotje Boswinkel and Tim Sweijs - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

Contributors: Collin Meisel, Saskia Heyster, Daan Sanders and Stella Kim


Cover photo source: NATO | troops taking part in the NATO exercise Swift Response at the Krivolak Army Training Range in North Macedonia, May 2022.

How to ‘open’ Strategic Autonomy

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 10/03/2022 - 16:13

The EU’s open strategic autonomy agenda is quickly gathering pace, especially in the trade and industrial domain. A host of initiatives and autonomous instruments have been introduced to strengthen the EU’s resilience, reduce its strategic dependencies in key sectors, and protect its industries against economic coercion and unfair trade practices. The EU has generally been careful to ensure that its efforts do not undermine the openness of its economy. However, there is an undeniable tension between the ‘open’ and ‘autonomous’ components of the agenda. Guaranteeing compatibility will require a careful balancing act, contingent on a coherent strategy not only for strengthening the EU’s strategic autonomy but also for fostering and preserving its openness. This policy brief offers concrete suggestions for operationalising the ‘open’ component in the EU’s open strategic autonomy agenda. 


Luuk Molthof, Research Fellow at Clingendael’s EU & Global Affairs Unit

Luc Köbben, former intern at Clingendael’s EU & Global Affairs Unit


Walking the tightrope towards the EU

Submitted by Inge on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 14:31

When the Council of the European Union decided on 23 June 2022 to grant Moldova the status of EU candidate country, it boosted the morale of a beleaguered government in Chișinău trying to circumnavigate a daunting series of crises. Since Maia Sandu ousted Socialist President Igor Dodon in the presidential election in 2020 and her reform-oriented Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) obtained a parliamentary majority in 2021, Moldova has barely had a chance to catch its breath. In the year that followed, the country experienced an energy crisis that almost deprived it of gas in the winter of 2021-2022, a budding economic crisis with rampant inflation, and a security and refugee crisis as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The war in its immediate neighbourhood, with Russian troops advancing in the spring along Ukraine’s southern coast to barely over 100 kilometres of Moldova’s borders, has further complicated the already difficult geopolitical balancing act of successive Moldovan governments. It has also aggravated existing security risks. For years, Moldova has balanced its aspirations to join the EU with its constitutional neutrality and its many dependencies on the Russian Federation. While President Putin was quick to congratulate Maia Sandu on her election and has so far refrained from open hostility towards her government, there are still many vulnerabilities that Moscow already leverages and could further exploit if it chose to destabilise Moldova. Not only is Moldova’s economy highly fragile and dependent on Russian energy, there are also political forces and regions that see their interests threatened by the reforms of the PAS government in Chișinău – and over which Moscow has different degrees of influence. Two of such regions are the separatist region of Transnistria in the east and the autonomous region of Gagauzia in the south of the country. A better understanding of these key vulnerabilities could help the EU and the Netherlands to assist Moldova in reducing them and to increase the stability and resilience of the EU’s newest candidate country.

The central question of this research report therefore is to what extent Russia’s influence over Moldovan domestic politics as well as the regions of Transnistria and Gagauzia poses risks to the internal and external stability of Moldova.

Read the full report on Moldova’s vulnerabilities amid war in Ukraine.


The authors


Bob Deen, Coordinator of the Clingendael Russia and Eastern Europe Centre (CREEC) and Senior Research Fellow of the Security Unit of the Clingendael Institute

Wouter Zweers,  Research Fellow at the EU & Global Affairs Unit of the Clingendael Institute.

Photos by Colby Gottert for USAID / Digital Development Communications

Specialising in European defence

Submitted by Inge on Fri, 07/29/2022 - 14:28

To choose or not to choose?

The Russian invasion in Ukraine has fundamentally changed the security environment in Europe. Member states as well as the EU and NATO have responded to the new challenges posed by Russia’s aggression, resulting in decisions that were deemed unthinkable before, such as the Finnish and Swedish application for NATO membership. Defence budgets have been further increased and the number of Allied countries realising NATO’s 2 percent GDP target on defence is growing. With defence budgets on the rise, there is an increasing risk of countries seeking national solutions to European capability shortfalls. Multinational defence cooperation is the tool to prevent this from happening and defence specialisation should become an important element in strengthening European military capabilities.

The term specialisation generates more opposition than support in the defence community

However, the term specialisation generates more opposition than support in the defence community because it has often been interpreted as a scapegoat for deliberately abandoning defence capabilities, driven by budget cuts and conducted in an uncoordinated way – specialisation ‘by default’ instead of ‘by design’. This form of specialisation makes a country fully dependent on other nations to provide the abandoned capabilities, which raises the issue of dependency and guaranteed access when needed.

However, despite the controversy, various forms of specialisation and dependencies already exist, without being labelled as such. Smaller countries, with limited defence budgets, often rely on larger partners for the provision of certain defence capabilities such as missile defence or long-range strike capabilities. The rising costs of armaments, in particular high-technology weapon systems, also reduces the number of ‘haves’ versus ‘non-haves’. In some cases, pooling and sharing models have been developed for capabilities that countries cannot afford on their own. Examples are multinational pools for strategic transport and air-to-air refuelling: NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) with C-17 military transport aircraft and the Multi-Role Transport and Tanker (MRTT) pool operating military adjusted versions of the Airbus A330. Nations using drawing rights for aircraft are dependent on such a multinational capability. Dependencies on the capabilities of other states or multinational frameworks also exist for space-based secure communications, strategic reconnaissance and intelligence. Another format is a capability collectively provided by ‘have nations’ to ‘non-have nations’.

For example, the Baltic States are fully dependent on NATO partners to provide fighter aircraft for air policing on rotation. An already existing form of agreed mutual dependencies is the Belgian and Dutch specialisation in training and maintenance facilities – concentrated in either of the two countries – for minehunters and frigates respectively. This far-reaching dependency has also led to the common acquisition of follow-on capabilities.

History, geographic location and strategic culture are factors of great importance to  defence specialisation

Amongst others, history, geographic location and strategic culture are factors of great importance to specialisation, resulting in the different capability profiles of countries with ‘specialised or niche capabilities’ or ‘specialisms’. France and the United Kingdom emphasise their strength in expeditionary capabilities, as a result of their former worldwide empires and continuous overseas military responsibilities. For that purpose, they operate aircraft carriers amongst other capabilities that are deployable over long distances. Germany has an orientation on strengthening above all its posture for collective defence, in particular heavy land forces. Landlocked nations, such as Hungary, have armies, but no navies. The Czech Republic has a niche capability in defence against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CRBN) threats. In a somewhat different vein, the integration of the Dutch-German land forces is progressing towards increasing mutual dependency, based on geographic proximity and close military cooperation over decades which has strengthened mutual trust and confidence between the two countries.

Thus, the issue of specialisation has to be placed in a wider context of multinational defence cooperation and it can take various forms. The common feature of all varieties of specialisation is the element of dependency.

Specialisation by default to specialisation by design

When moving from specialisation by default to specialisation by design, countries should not operate in isolation from the two key international organisations for safeguarding and ensuring European security: the EU and NATO. First, in designing specialisation formats, the capability needs as defined by both organisations have to be taken as the point of departure and should direct the capability areas for exploring options for specialisation. Second, both organisations should steer, coordinate and monitor specialisation efforts as part of their responsibilities in capability development. In that regard, the NATO Defence Planning Process (NDPP) should incorporate multinational targets in addition to national targets. The EU should also incorporate multinational capability efforts in its Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) in order to steer collaborative programmes and projects even better.

Read the full report Specialising in European defence: To choose or not to choose?.


The authors

Dick Zandee, Head of the Security Unit at the Clingendael Institute

Adája Stoetman, Research Fellow at the Security Unit of the Clingendael Institute


Europe cannot wait for unity

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 06/13/2022 - 14:22

Teaming up to improve EU foreign policy effectiveness – and what the Netherlands could contribute to it

The EU is not always united and visible in foreign policy. This policy brief argues it could make more use of leading groups of member states under the coordination of the High Representative and European External Action Service (EEAS), the type of strategic thinking that guided the development of the Strategic Compass, and a Team Europe approach to a wider range of international activities, going beyond development cooperation. One idea would be to formulate a European Council Forum on Economic Security and Sanction policy. The Netherlands could contribute proactively, for instance by advocating for a strategic conversation on the topic of economic power at the level of the European Council.

Download policy brief


The authors

Ties Dams, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute

Giulia Cretti, Junior Research Fellow at at the Clingendael Institute

Louise van Schaik, Head of Unit EU & Global Affairs at the Clingendael Institute

Source: European Union

The Promises and Perils of a Minimum Cyber Deterrence Posture

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 04/13/2022 - 12:20

Considerations for Small and Middle Powers  

The emergence of cyberspace provides small and medium powers with a strategic weapons capability that historically has been beyond their reach. This report explores how this capability can become an indispensable tenet of the deterrence posture of small and medium powers. To this end, the promises and perils of minimum cyber deterrence are explored. The destructive cyber potential of these small and medium powers may be orders of magnitude less than that of the United States or a near-peer power, but some of these countries still possess a minimal deterrence capability that, much like the small nuclear arsenals of France, the UK and China, could inflict an unacceptable level of retaliatory punishment to deter potential aggressors, no matter their overwhelming technical superiority. 

From the perspective of these nations, the report explores how this capability can be integrated into a broader operational framework and projected it into a Whole of Government deterrence posture. Even in states where some thinking has already taken place in this regard gaps remain, not just when it comes to cyber capabilities, but also, and more importantly, to the strategic culture and intelligence requirements that are needed to support this. This report offers insight into the cyber retaliation means and paths, their organizational requirements and considerations, as well as the political dilemmas many nations will face. 

Download report


Louk Faesen, Tim Sweijs, Alexander Klimburg, Giulia Tesauro - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

Introductions by Martin Libicki, Michael Daniel, Herbert Lin and Erica Lonergan