The Strategic Compass of the European Union

Pillar 4: Partner - The Strategic Compass of the European Union

Pillar 4: Partner

Partnerships are an essential instrument to support the EU’s ambition to be global strategic player. Partners will also benefit from a stronger and more capable EU in security and defence. They can help us uphold the rules-based international order and effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, set international norms and standards and contribute to peace and security around the world.

We will bolster tailored partnerships where they are mutually beneficial, serve EU interests and support our values, particularly when there is a shared commitment to an integrated approach to conflict and crises, capacity building and resilience. Close alignment on CFSP issues is also key in this respect, in particular on issues where common interests are at stake. We have a long track-record of working alongside partners and we actively seek their participation in civilian and military CSDP missions and operations.

It is paramount that our strategic partnerships deliver on their potential and that we address the profound security shifts currently underway. We will continue to invest in the resilience of partners in neighbouring states and beyond, in particular through the Union’s wider peace, security, neighbourhood, development and cooperation instruments.

Multilateral and regional partners

The EU’s strategic partnership with NATO is essential for our Euro-Atlantic security as demonstrated again in the context of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine in 2022. The EU remains fully committed to further enhancing this key partnership also to foster the transatlantic bond. Building on the unprecedented progress made on strengthening cooperation with NATO since 2016, further ambitious and concrete steps need to be taken to develop shared answers to existing and new threats and common challenges.

The Joint Declarations signed in 2016 and 2018 are the key pillars of this cooperation. In the spirit of these Joint Declarations and based on the principles of inclusiveness, reciprocity, openness and transparency, as well as the decision-making autonomy of both organisations, we will continue our close and mutually beneficial cooperation. We will further enhance ongoing cooperation on political dialogue, information sharing, crisis management operations, military capability development and military mobility. We will deepen our common work on enhancing maritime security and countering hybrid threats including foreign information manipulation and securing cyberspace as well as the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

We will furthermore expand our cooperation on emerging and disruptive technologies, climate change and defence, resilience and outer space. To improve political dialogue, we will organise more frequent and inclusive joint EU-NATO highlevel meetings that focus on strategically relevant issues. Targeted exchanges through regular joint meetings of the EU Political and Security Committee and the North Atlantic Council will be enhanced. Staff-to-staff interactions with NATO are a core feature of our partnership, but this can be further reinforced by intensifying strategic communications, coordinating and/or adopting joint statements and conducting joint visits by senior EU and NATO representatives.

Dialogue and cooperation should be bolstered through increased exchanges with NATO on the assessment of the security environment from shared situational awareness to foresight exercises. In that respect, our ability to exchange unclassified and classified information is of critical importance.

The Parallel and Coordinated Exercises organised by the EU and NATO enable information exchange and improve our readiness to tackle mutual security concerns, including complex hybrid attacks. However, our approach to exercises will need to evolve to address more effectively the shifting geopolitical and technological trends currently underway. Dedicated scenario-based discussions and the further inclusion of military mobility in future exercises will be of paramount importance. Moving to joint and inclusive exercises would be a real driver for enhanced EUNATO cooperation and a way of building confidence, improving interoperability and deepening our partnership. This requires appropriate information sharing.

In order to uphold rules-based multilateralism and the principles of the UN Charter, we must strengthen our strategic partnership with the United Nations (UN). We will ensure coherence with the UN’s actions in the area of peace and security and support the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s report “Our Common Agenda” including the “New agenda for peace”.

We will substantially step up our political dialogue with the UN through highlevel political engagement and joint statements. Through our civilian and military missions and operations, we are working together with the UN in many theatres but we can do more to help reinforce, bridge, substitute or complement UN tasks and missions. In this regard, we will strengthen our strategic partnership with the UN on peace operations and crisis management, including with the implementation of the new joint set of priorities on peace operations and crisis management for 2022-2024.

This includes in particular more operational coordination on the ground and cooperation on contingency planning and mutual support. We will therefore make full use of the EU-UN Framework Agreement on Mutual Support for our respective missions and operations in the field. We will also continue promoting the Women Peace and Security agenda and enhance our cooperation with regard to Children in Armed Conflict.

If the EU and UN are to meet the challenges of the future, a more dynamic approach to early warning, conflict prevention and mediation is required. Structured exchange of information, joint horizon scanning, strategic foresight and gender responsive conflict analyses can help us make best use of our knowledge and expertise. This is important if we are to respond to new and emerging challenges such as climate change, pandemics, terrorism, organised crime, emerging and disruptive technologies and hybrid threats, including cyberattacks and disinformation. We will strengthen our cooperation with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), notably in the field of conflict prevention and crisis management.

While developing closer operational linkages with the OSCE in the Western Balkans, the eastern neighbourhood and Central Asia, we will explore how the EU can work closer with OSCE field missions and strengthen its relationship with the OSCE’s Conflict Prevention Centre. An emphasis will be placed on confidence-building measures and information sharing for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, security governance and reform and post-conflict stabilisation. Joint EU-OSCE activities such as training and exchange of best practices and lessons learned can advance our cooperation.

We will further strengthen our strategic cooperation with the African Union (AU), based on political dialogue and operational engagement from Somalia to the Sahel region. This can be achieved through joint field visits and closer coordination at the planning and conduct levels. We will seek a more robust and balanced security partnership with African partners. To this end, the EU will develop closer operational ties with regional and sub-regional organisations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the G5 Sahel, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

As reliable security provider, the EU will enhance its efforts to support African-led initiatives that contribute to peace and security on the African continent, including African-led Peace Support Operations. In this context, we will promote the implementation of the AU human rights compliance framework. We will develop military-to-military and police-to-police contacts with African counterparts to enhance our situational awareness. Furthermore, we will strengthen trilateral cooperation between the EU, the UN and the AU, as well as improve coordination between the three African members (A3) and EU Members States in the UN Security Council.

With the Indo-Pacific becoming an increasingly important region, we will work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to enhance shared awareness and information exchange on violent extremism, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear threats, cybersecurity, maritime security, transnational crime, humanitarian and disaster relief and crisis management.

With a view to full membership in ASEAN’s Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus setting, we will seize every opportunity to engage in shared awareness activities with ASEAN and contribute to its effort to build pan Asian security arrangements. Working notably through the ASEAN Regional Forum, we will further enhance our security contribution and presence in the Indo-Pacific region. Further cooperation with other regional organisations, including the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), will also continue to be developed.

Tailored bilateral partnerships

We will engage more coherently, consistently and comprehensively with our bilateral partners around the world, including by making full use of and strengthening our network of military advisors and counter-terrorism experts in EU Delegations. We will further build tailored partnerships on the basis of shared values and interests, while taking into account the intensity and specific characteristics of our existing relationships.

To this end, we will include security and defence issues more systematically in our political dialogues with partners. In addition, every two years we will convene an EU Security and Defence Partnership Forum to bring our partners together. The Forum will provide an opportunity to discuss at a high political level topical and thematic issues related to security and defence.

It will allow the European Union to bring partners together and showcase their support to the Union’s contribution to international peace and security and the challenges that we face. The goal is to reinforce partnerships by creating a common sense of purpose. This will contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of coordinated international efforts, while reinforcing the credibility and legitimacy of EU action.

Our partnership with the United States is of strategic importance and we must deepen our cooperation in security and defence in a mutually beneficial way. We are already working with the US across a broad range of security and defence policy areas and in the field. But we need to build on the momentum created by the EU-US Summit Statement of June 2021.

The dedicated strategic dialogue on security and defence between the EU and the US is an important milestone in the consolidation of the transatlantic partnership. It will foster closer and mutually beneficial cooperation in areas such as respective security and defence initiatives, disarmament and non-proliferation, the impact of emerging and disruptive technologies, climate change and defence, cyber defence, military mobility, countering hybrid threats including foreign information manipulation and interference, crisis management and the relationship with strategic competitors.

We will deepen our constructive relations with Norway, as our most closely associated partner through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as with Canada, with whom our long standing cooperation in security and defence demonstrate our joint commitment to peace and security. We value the dedicated dialogues on security and defence with these and other likeminded partners. We remain open to a broad and ambitious security and defence engagement with the United Kingdom.

With Turkey, a contributor to CSDP missions and operations, we will continue to cooperate in areas of common interest. We remain committed to developing a mutually beneficial partnership, but this requires equal commitment on Turkey’s side to advance on a path of cooperation, sustained de-escalation and to address EU concerns, in accordance with the statement of the members of the European Council of 25 March 2021.

We remain committed to improving the resilience of societies and democratic processes, political institutions and critical infrastructure in the Western Balkans, as well as boosting cybersecurity, countering disinformation and supporting counter-terrorism efforts in the region. To help build civilian and military capacity and resilience in the region, working closely together with the UN, NATO and the OSCE is of the utmost importance. We welcome the regular contributions our partners in the Western Balkans have made to our CSDP missions and operations.

In view of the threat to the sovereignty, stability, territorial integrity and governance of our Eastern partners, we will boost our cooperation in the area of security and defence with a view to strengthening their resilience. We will continue to support Ukraine and its people together with our international partners, including through additional political, financial, humanitarian and logistical support.

The challenges faced by Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, including hostile interference by Russia and the extensive use of military instruments and hybrid tactics, compromise their stability and their democratic processes and have direct implications for our own security. We will therefore continue to closely cooperate with those countries and reiterate our unwavering support for, and commitment to, their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As close partners to the EU, specific dialogues and cooperation with Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova will be strengthened, in particular in areas such as countering hybrid threats, disinformation and cybersecurity. We value their contributions to our CSDP missions and operations. We will also support our Eastern partners in building resilience by using different tools, including through assistance measures.

In the southern neighbourhood, global and regional challenges have increased and highlighted our mutual interdependence and the need to establish closer partnerships on security and defence. We underline in particular that terrorism, violent extremism, radicalisation, cyber and hybrid threats as well as organised crime and increasing challenges regarding irregular migration, are major threats that affect both shores of the Mediterranean and are often interlinked. In this context, we will offer more comprehensive security packages to southern neighbourhood partners ready to deepen cooperation on a range of issues, including operational cooperation.

We also underline the need to increase the EU’s investment in peace and stability of the Middle East and the Gulf. Enhancing the security of our African partners remains one of the key priorities for us. We will engage with the full range of EU security and defence tools, in particular military and civilian missions and operations, peace and stabilisation programmes, assistance measures and financial support. This is even more important as we are witnessing a growing presence of our strategic competitors, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa. We will seek to establish security and defence dialogues and cooperation with African partners on these issues.

We will better link military assistance with structural reform, including human resources management, as well as with civilian capacity building and security sector reform. We will help our partners to strengthen their resilience against conventional as well as hybrid threats, disinformation and cyberattacks, as well as climate change.

We will seek the engagement of capable partners in Africa in our CSDP missions and operations as well as increase our support to their efforts against instability and terrorism. Through our EU Indo-Pacific Strategy, we will seek to promote an open and rules-based regional security architecture, including secure sea lines of communication, capacity-building and enhanced naval presence in the Indo-Pacific. We already have constructive security and defence consultations and security cooperation with Indo-Pacific countries such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.

We are committed to working with like-minded partners through operational cooperation on the ground, particularly where these efforts support regional peace and security structures and initiatives. The EU has conducted a series of joint naval exercises and port calls, most recently with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Djibouti and India. Such live exercises will become standard practice and help us ensure a secure and open Indo-Pacific. We will continue to pursue dialogue and consultations with China where this is in our interests, especially on issues such as respect for the international law of the sea, peaceful settlement of disputes and a rules-based international order and human rights.

We must deepen our partnership with Latin America, building on the specific security and defence dialogue with Colombia and Chile. Recognising that partners in Latin America have contributed to CSDP missions and operations, we can collectively do more to help them counter hybrid threats, cyberattacks and organised crime, as well as engaging in dialogue and action on climate and security and maritime security. Our objective is also to further promote the participation of Latin American countries in our EU security and defence efforts.

A more tailored and integrated approach to capacity building of partners will be pursued. This could include, particularly in crisis management situations, training, advising, mentoring and equipping the armed forces and security forces of partners. While the Neighbourhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument remains the main financial tool to support security and stability abroad and should be used as much as possible, the European Peace Facility will enhance our efforts to help build defence capacity, complementing our CSDP crisis management efforts.

We also need to better link military assistance with civilian capacity building, security sector reform, governance, respect of rule of law, international law and human rights, democratic oversight and capacity to respond to hybrid threats, disinformation and cyberattacks. Coordination with the Commission’s programmes and instruments will be crucial for the success of our actions. We welcome the contributions to our CSDP missions and operations from all our partners and encourage them to dedicate more personnel and capabilities to our missions and operations as part of a mutual effort to promote international peace and security.

To this end, we will help our partners to strengthen their capacity to contribute to CSDP missions and operations. In 2021, we have already enhanced the modalities for participation of third States in CSDP missions and operations by ensuring a greater level of information sharing at all stages of the planning.


We aim to deepen our cooperation with partners and further tailor our partnership packages. We will maintain and deepen our security and defence dialogues, joint situational awareness and joint training and exercises. We will work with partners to counter hybrid threats, disinformation and cyberattacks. Our approach will also address partners’ need for capacity building and support.


• From 2022, building upon the Joint Declarations, we will further strengthen, deepen and expand our strategic partnership, political dialogue and cooperation with NATO across all agreed areas of interaction, including new key work strands such as resilience, emerging disruptive technologies, climate and defence and outer space.

• Starting in 2022, we will implement the new joint set of priorities for EU-UN cooperation (2022-2024), and in particular conduct joint horizon scanning and strategic foresight, joint gender responsive conflict analysis and further enhance our political and operational coordination and cooperation, as well as our information exchange, including with the provision of satellite imagery through the EU Satellite Centre.

• In 2022, we will hold the first biennial Security and Defence Partnerships Forum in Brussels bringing multilateral, regional and bilateral partners together at the invitation of the High Representative.


• As of 2022, we will deepen political dialogue and strengthen cooperation with the OSCE, African Union and ASEAN in areas such as conflict prevention, shared situational awareness and resilience.

In addition, we will:

• Seek to develop a joint dedicated roadmap with the OSCE on conflict prevention and crisis management with concrete regional and thematic actions;

• Renew and enhance our cooperation with the African Union, in line with the EU-AU Summit of February 2022. We will in particular foster our support to adequate training, capacity building and equipment, strengthening and scaling up autonomous Africanled peace operations, including through EU missions and assistance measures, as well as law-enforcement capacity-building. We will aim to conduct joint field visits with the African Union and seek closer coordination at the operational planning and conduct levels; we will also intensify trilateral EU-AU-UN cooperation.


• We will pursue a closer and mutually beneficial cooperation with the United States. As of 2022, we will move forward with a dedicated security and defence dialogue on the basis of the Summit Statement of June 2021.

• We will deepen our cooperation with Norway and Canada on the basis of the existing dialogues. We remain open to engage with the United Kingdom on security and defence.

• We will strengthen dialogues on security and defence with our partners in the Western Balkans, our eastern and southern neighbourhoods, the Indo-Pacific and Latin America.

In addition, we will in particular:

• Strengthen our security and defence cooperation with the Eastern partners with a view to strengthening their resilience, including against hybrid attacks and cyber threats, and boost tailored support and capacity building in the area of security and defence;

• Support efforts to strengthen the resilience of our partners in the Western Balkans;

• Offer more comprehensive security packages to partners in the southern neighbourhood;

• Seek to further associate African partners to our security and defence efforts on the continent and support African-led initiatives contributing to peace and security, in particular African-led peace operations, in line with the EU-AU Summit of 2022;

• Conduct, by 2023, live maritime exercises with partners in the Indo-Pacific in addition to more frequent EU port calls and patrols.

• Complementing our crisis management efforts, we will make full use of the Neighbourhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument and other relevant EU programmes as well as increase the use of the European Peace Facility to intensify capacity building, and train and equip our partners in Africa, our eastern and southern neighbourhood as well as the Western Balkans, and to strengthen their resilience against hybrid threats.

• To boost our international diplomatic efforts in the security and defence domain, we will increase the network of military advisors and counter-terrorism experts in EU Delegations.