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One year on: The EU and the UK’s role in multilateral spaces

Article by Anna Chernova

February 24, 2023

One year on: The EU and the UK’s role in multilateral spaces

Last year’s massive escalation of the Russian invasion into Ukraine has put global and regional organisations to the test. State capacities for foreign defence and development in European Union (EU) member states, as well as among EU’s allies, were already strained by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by the multitude of other crises in the wider European neighbourhood. 


Military escalation in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood has highlighted both unifying and divisive policy issues. While there has been general consensus towards support for Ukraine, approaches to containing and addressing the Russian threat vary between some member states. Key policy shifts in states like Germany, as well as consensus building challenges with members like Hungary may widen policy gaps as the crisis further protracts. 


As the UK plays an important role in supporting Ukraine’s defensive capabilities, aid and recovery efforts – relations with the EU will be critical. Important policy gaps in security cooperation tools and mechanisms left by the FCDO’s Integrated Review, call for the UK to further define what close collaboration with the EU should look like. 


Greater British investment in multilateral spaces shared with EU stakeholders, such as the OSCE, Council of Europe, G7 and other multilateral spaces, as well as support to an expanding NATO will be important. The EU and its institutions remain key to promoting human security approaches in responding to conflict. Defining and coordinating a values-based foreign policy, grounded in human security values will be a key regional challenge in wider Europe moving forward.

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