From the European Security Strategy to the EU Global Strategy: explaining the journey


What should be the European Union’s role in international politics? How should the EU deal with the challenges posed by instability, terrorism, radicalisation and conflict to the South and the East? Can the EU’s commitment to democratisation, human rights and international law be upheld or does it require rethinking and reorientation? The European Council tasked the EU High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, to address these questions in a Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS). This article unpacks the EU’s journey towards a comprehensive foreign and security strategy—the EUGS. It does so by comparing the elements and main messages of the 2003 the European Security Strategy, under the leadership of Javier Solana, EU High Representative at the time, with HRVP Mogherini’s EU Global Strategy 13 years later, of which the author was the lead pen-holder.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Conversation with the author, June 2015.

  2. 2.

    Conversation with the author.

  3. 3.

    For a list of organizations which contributed to the strategic reflection see the acknowledgements in the EUGS.


  1. Amsden, Alice. 2001. The rse of the “rest”. Challenges to the west of late-industrializing economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Biscop, Sven. 2016. The EU Global Strategy: Realpolitik with European characteristics. 29 June, Security Policy Briefs, Egmont Institute, Brussels.

  3. Diez, Thomas. 2013. Normative power as hegemony. Cooperation and Conflict 48(2):194–210.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. EUHR. 2003. A secure Europe in a better world. European Security Strategy. December.

  5. EU HR/VP. 2015. The European Union in a changing global environment. A more connected, contested and complex world. June.

  6. EU HR/VP. 2016. Shared vision, common action: A stronger Europe. A Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy. June.

  7. European Parliament. 2016. On the EU in a changing global environment—A more connected, contested and complex world. Motion for a resolution. April.

  8. Fukuyama, Francis. 1992. The end of history and the last man. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Herd, Graeme P. 2010. Great powers and strategic stability in the twenty-first century: Competing vsions of world order. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Hyde-Price, Adrian. 2006. Normative power Europe: A realist critique. Journal of European Public Policy 13(2):217–234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Kelley, Judith. 2006. New wine in old wineskins: Promoting political reforms through the new European Neighbourhood Policy. Journal of Common Market Studies 44(1):29–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Manners, Ian. 2006. Normative power Europe reconsidered: Beyond the crossroads. Journal of European Public Policy 13(2):182–199.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Missiroli, Antonio. 2016. Towards an EU Global Strategy: Consulting the experts. April, EUISS.

  14. Pew. 2016. Europeans face the world divided. June. file:///C:/Users/Tocci/Downloads/Pew-Research-Center-EPW-Report-FINAL-June-13-2016.pdf.

  15. Spiegel Online. 2010. From lisbon to Vladivostok’: Putin envisions a Russia-EU free Trade zone. 25 November.

  16. Telò, Mario (ed.). 2014. European Union and new regionalism. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  17. The Economist. 2015. Europe’s ring of fire. 20 September.

  18. Zakaria, Fareed. 2008. The post-American world. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nathalie Tocci.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tocci, N. From the European Security Strategy to the EU Global Strategy: explaining the journey. Int Polit 54, 487–502 (2017).

Download citation


  • EU Global Strategy
  • European Security Strategy
  • EU foreign policy
  • EU institutions
  • Security and defence
  • Resilience