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The European Security Strategy: An Evolutionary History

Publisher: SIPRI

On 20 June 2003, Europe's leaders meeting in the Council of the European Union were able to unite in welcoming a first draft of a new Security Strategy for the EU. The document, finally adopted by the European Council of 12–13 December 2003 under the title 'A Secure Europe in a Better World', was (in symbolic terms as well as in substance) a bid to reassert the EU's common strategic vision and to strengthen its common will for action in the realm of security. Thanks, not least, to its brevity and clear language, the document attracted wide and largely favourable attention both within the EU's territory and abroad. The present study takes an historical and institutional approach. It asks questions about the antecedents of the ESS, both political and procedural; about the significance of the way in which it was produced, as well as of its contents; and about the comparison of intention and reality in the way in which the EU's organs and member states sought to follow it up. The December 2003 text of the ESS is reproduced as an appendix for ease of reference.


1. Introduction: The prehistory of the strategy

2. The genesis and contents of the 2003 European Security Strategy

3. Short-term follow-up, longer-term implications

Appendix. A Secure Europe in a Better World: European Security Strategy


Alyson J. K. Bailes was Director of SIPRI from 2002–2007.