Urgent challenges in a complex environment

28 November 2017 - 09:00 - 13:30
Rose Gottemoeller, Pekka Haavisto, Julian King, Julia Obermeier

Friends of Europe’s annual Security Policy Summit aims to shift the narrative on European security from threats to opportunities, identifying roles and responsibilities at the strategic, tactical and operational levels, in the framework of longer-term strategic thinking. This is based on our holistic approach to European, transatlantic and global security policies, reflecting our view that security is a whole-of-society matter and therefore requires a whole-of-society approach. Bringing together senior decision-makers and out-of-the-box thinkers from Europe, NATO partner countries and beyond, this occasion allows for an in-depth discussion of today’s most pressing security and defence issues.

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, turbulent developments in the Middle East have provoked waves of migration from the region and have shaken up Europe’s conventional approach to security thinking. Meanwhile, worsening relations with Russia, the evolving nuclear security situation and changing geopolitics have all exacerbated the European security context, requiring a recalibration of defence concepts not only within NATO and the EU, but also in concert with Europe’s eastern and southern neighbours. New realities have thus called for increased attention towards emerging challenges, including cyber governance, defence spending, and the nexus between organised crime and terrorism. In this context, there is an emerging consensus on the need for more resilient approaches to peace, security and defence. Only by looking eastward, southward and inward can Europe advance the security dialogue beyond conventional defence capabilities.

To steer an inclusive, comprehensive and well-informed debate, this event will also serve as an opportunity to present and discuss the findings of Debating Security Plus, Friends of Europe’s global online brainstorm, which gathered over 1,600 participants from around the world to make concrete recommendations for confronting today’s security and defence challenges.


The 9/11 terrorist attacks signalled a seismic shift in global security and the emergence of a fluctuating multipolar system. Military endeavours must be combined with economic, judicial and democratic capacity-building to build sustainable peace.

The digital revolution has yielded both opportunities and challenges. The global financial crisis shook the economic system and harmed citizens’ trust in institutions. Now there are major questions about the European project, transatlantic relations and the future of NATO.

08.30 – 09.00

Welcome coffee and registration of participants

09.00 – 10.00


During Friends of Europe’s recent global online brainstorm, Debating Security Plus, there were repeated calls for a global convention on cyber security and defence, making it clear that the need to address the issue of cyber governance is becoming ever more pressing. Alleged Russian disinformation efforts and meddling in some NATO member states' elections may not be overtly aggressive, but have exacerbated the unresolved conflict in Ukraine and the instability that has returned to the western Balkans. Increasing use of these hybrid tactics begs the question of how military and civil policymakers should adapt the current security doctrine to address the evolving hybrid threats and challenges of the 21st century. With the precise nature of Europe's security problems vis-à-vis an increasingly more assertive Moscow changing and becoming harder to define, this will require a discussion of how Europe can take a more energetic and collaborative approach to security matters, including through both the strategic role played by the European External Action Service and President Juncker’s proposed new European Cybersecurity Agency.

  • How has Russia’s approach to the cyber sphere changed the game, so to speak, and how have the EU and NATO strengthened their cyber defences?
  • Faced with Islamic extremism and Asia's profusion of arms races and unresolved tensions, do Europe, the US and Russia face greater shared security concerns?
  • Is a consensus emerging in the EU or NATO on the need to promote greater dialogue with Russia that would entail listening and not just talking?
10.00 – 10.25

Coffee break

10.25 – 11.25


The destabilising effects of the Arab Spring in 2011 and then the EU-led military intervention in Libya have contributed to mounting security difficulties in Europe's southern neighbourhood, including terrorism and mass movements. As organised crime increasingly provides terrorist networks with both the infrastructure to procure deadly weapons and the funds to finance terrorist activities, the results are being felt in Europe. With the additional pressure of the refugee and migrant influx resulting from the civil war in Syria, Africa’s population explosion, and the catastrophic results of climate change, what steps should be taken to stabilise Europe’s southern neighbourhood?

  • Are NATO, the US and the EU on the same wavelength on the policies needed to tackle Daesh-related terrorism while stabilising civil societies in the Arab world?
  • The deterioration in both Europe's and America's relations with Turkey is an unwelcome development in terms of Middle Eastern security efforts. What policy solutions are available to NATO, the EU and their member states?
  • Economic development assistance in Europe's southern neighbourhood needs to go hand in hand with security policy. How can civil society and the military cooperate to ensure that assistance reaches where it is needed most without duplicating efforts?
11.25 – 11.50

Coffee break

11.50 – 12.50


US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates warned Europeans at a 2011 debate in Brussels that it was high-time they stop relying on the US for their security. As this line continues to be echoed today by the current US administration, such a context raises significant questions for Europe and its appetite to step up to this new reality in terms of collective efforts, burden-sharing and better coordination. As most European NATO member states continue to grapple with the 2% of GDP defence spending goal, and as the EU moves towards its proposed 'Defence Union', there remain questions over the nature of member states' political and economic commitments. As policymakers work to keep their states’ militaries funded and ensure preparedness in the event of war, what are the short and long term implications for the EU, NATO and their member states?

  • Would clear time frames by the EU or NATO for European governments' catch-up efforts help or hinder the momentum towards improved capabilities?
  • How do states’ defence spending policies impact their abilities to prepare for war, and what new threats must governments take into consideration?
  • Will EU initiatives like Permanent Structured Cooperation and the new operational HQ for training lead to a renewed drive on military capabilities, outreach and inter-operability of systems?
12.50 – 13.00


Friends of Europe’s security video competition asks participants to submit their solutions to foreign relations, security or defence challenges in 60-second videos. The top three videos will be presented on this occasion, and the winner will be announced.

13.00 – 13.30


Europe and its neighbourhood face an increasingly complex set of security challenges. As new threats arise and old threats change and evolve, international organisations must improve the cooperation and collaboration both among and within their institutions. What steps have been taken and how much work remains to be done to improve the ties between NATO, the EU and their member states? Are the post-war intergovernmental institutions and infrastructures fit for purpose given the very different emerging realities of security and defence that will likely drive the agenda for the next 20-30 years?


End of summit

Rose Gottemoeller
Deputy Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Pekka Haavisto
Member of the Finnish Parliament, Foreign Minister’s Special Representative on mediation and President of the European Institute of Peace
Pekka Haavisto has extensive knowledge in crisis management and political negotiations. He has served as the EU Special Representative for Sudan and Darfur, UN Special Advisor to the Darfur peace process, and has also led the UN Environment Programme for the post-conflict environmental assessments and projects in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Liberia and Sudan. Haavisto has been twice a cabinet minister (Minister for International Development and Minister of Environment) and is expected to run for the second time as the Green League candidate in the Finnish Presidential elections.
Julian King
European Commissioner for the Security Union
A former UK Ambassador to France, Sir Julian currently serves as British European Commissioner, replacing Jonathan Hill who resigned following the outcome of the Brexit referendum. Responsible for the Security Union as part of Jean-Claude Juncker’s team, he works on developing European security and counter-terrorism plans, beefing up the EU’s counter-terrorism role and taking action to prevent radicalisation.
Julia Obermeier
Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and European Young Leader
Elected at the age of 29, Julia served as a Member of the German Federal Parliament from 2013-2017. Her political work focused on defence and security policies in the Committee on Defence, which plays an important part in the adoption of the defence budget and the procurement of materiel for the armed forces. In 2004, Julia joined the centre-right Christian Social Union (CSU), the counterpart of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Bavaria. Julia started her career as a lecturer at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich before joining the office of the CSU Secretary General. She then held several political positions at a local level and various functions in the CSU. As a member of the CSU policy committee, she played an important role in drafting the new party manifesto.


Amanda Rohde, Programme Executive
Tel: +32 2 893 98 11

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