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Policy brief | 16 November 2020

Yes, we can? Europe responds to the crisis of multilateral arms control

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Oliver Meier |Senior Researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH)

Arms Control Europe Sanctions Global Security

Over the last four years, Europeans have been facing the fundamental challenge of Russia and the United States turning away from, or even against, arms control. In response, Europe has begun to find its voice, indicating that it is ready to stand up to those great powers dismantling multilateral instruments.

In this policy brief for the ELN, Oliver Meier considers how Europeans might turn existing, stopgap responses into a long-term strategy to strengthen multilateral arms control instruments. Four elements, currently missing, are needed to achieve this goal:

  1. Europe needs a new comprehensive political strategy that defines the level of ambition of its disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation policies.
  2. Europe must be able to protect itself against secondary sanctions.
  3. The EU needs a comprehensive approach on how to better protect the institutional foundations of multilateral disarmament institutions from great power interferences.
  4. Europe should try to leverage its economic might to garner support for multilateral institutions and incentivise third countries to join such accords and comply with them.

While a Biden administration will make transatlantic cooperation on preserving and strengthening multilateral arms control easier, the development of an autonomous, coherent and sustainable European policy that strengthens multilateral arms control regimes remains essential.

Download the policy brief here.

The opinions articulated above represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network (ELN) or any of the ELN’s members. The ELN aims to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address pressing foreign, defence, and security challenges.

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