Illusions of Autonomy: Why Europe Cannot Provide for Its Security If the United States Pulls Back

Europe’s security landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade amid Russia’s resurgence, mounting European doubts about the long-term reliability of the U.S. security commitment, and Europe’s growing aspiration for strategic autonomy. Could Europeans develop an autonomous defense capacity if the United States withdrew completely from Europe? If the United States were to do so, any European effort to develop an autonomous defense capacity would be fundamentally hampered by profoundly diverging threat perceptions and severe military capacity shortfalls that would be very costly and time-consuming to close.

Hugo Meijer is CNRS Research Fellow at Sciences Po, Center for International Studies (CERI, Paris) and the Founding Director of The European Initiative for Security Studies (EISS), a multidisciplinary network of scholars that share the goal of consolidating security studies in Europe. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS), in Brussels, and an Honorary Researcher at the Centre for War and Diplomacy, Lancaster University. His research interests lie at the intersection of foreign policy analysis and security studies. In particular, he is currently working on several research projects on: the reconfiguration of American hegemony through the prism of the US-led regional alliance systems in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific since the end of World War II; national defense and security policies in Europe; and European foreign and security policies in the face of a rising China in the post-Cold War period. Recent and forthcoming publications: Awakening to China’s Rise. European Foreign and Security Policies toward the People’s Republic of China (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2022); The Handbook of European Defence Policies and Armed Forces (Oxford University Press, 2018), co-edited with Marco Wyss; Trading with the Enemy: the Making of US Export Control Policy toward the People’s Republic of China (Oxford University Press, 2016). He has also published in such journals as International Security, Journal of Strategic Studies, Cooperation and Conflict, Survival, European Journal of International Security and the Journal of Cold War Studies. For more details, see: