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With so many threats on the horizon, we need a union that can navigate the turbulent seas of the future and protect the European dream of peace and prosperity for its people and global neighbours, Alexander Borum writes.


As the European elections approach, a new group of Members of the European Parliament will soon take office, tasked with navigating the turbulent waters of global volatility and the immense challenges Europe is currently grappling with. 

In this shifting geopolitical landscape, uncertainty and conflict threaten European values and way of life, underscoring the urgent need to bolster the continent’s security and adopt a strong stance in the bloc’s foreign and security policy. 

EU voters must remember the significance of collective security when they cast their votes in early June, considering the broader implications of their choices for our future. 

As voters, we must make informed decisions that will ensure the stability and prosperity of the union.

Like the rest of the world, the EU is currently grappling with a multitude of issues that are directly impacting the lives and future of its citizens. 

From a deteriorating climate to a cost-of-living crisis, energy insecurity, migration pressures, and a surge of conflicts both within and outside Europe. 

While all these issues are important, it is unrealistic to expect that we can address them all at once. As voters, we must ask ourselves, where should we direct our attention and energy for the most effective long-term impact?

War keeps knocking on our door

Looking back at our shared history can give us a clue. Here, we must acknowledge the European Union’s roots as a peace and economic development project. 

The EU has, in this regard, been a successful endeavour. Through increased cooperation and burden sharing, we have witnessed a period of unity and progress never seen before on the continent. 

While the EU was never without faults, we must reflect on the challenges faced by our British brothers and sisters in the wake of Brexit. It is clear to see that member states are stronger and better off standing together.

As EU voters, we must stand together as we look towards the future, recognising that while the EU peace project has been successful, not everyone agrees with the union’s approach. 

War is knocking on our door, and as the Ukrainian people pay the ultimate price for resisting the aggression they face, we must acknowledge that the very same threat is encroaching on our external borders. 

This war threatens the organic and consensual growth of the union. As such, EU voters must reflect on their role in European security and the need to embrace collective security responsibilities with a sense of urgency.

Being complacent and disinterested won’t do it any more

After enjoying decades of peace under the EU umbrella, European voters have grown complacent and disinterested in security policy and defence spending. 

However, in light of the current reality, if EU voters genuinely desire peace and economic prosperity, they must collectively shoulder the responsibility for security and defence in the EU. 

This implies making tough choices in the coming years, as matching up to Russia’s projected defence spending of 8% of GDP in 2024 will require sacrifices. It’s time for the EU, where most member states still fall short of the 2% NATO commitment, to embrace collective security responsibilities.

For decades, Europe has relied on others for its collective security. Still, with the horrors of war returning to European soil and Trumpian cracks emerging in the close-knit alliance with our US cousins, it is evident that the status quo is broken. 

It is increasingly clear that EU voters must once again look to the age-old Latin adage _si vis parcem para bellum_— “if you want peace, prepare for war” — to better position the European Union in the world. 


For a brighter future, the EU must take on a concerted effort to advance European security and defence, deter aggression, and safeguard our shared values and heritage.

For all EU citizens, it is crucial to ensure that security and defence are a clear priority in the European elections in June, ensuring that we collectively push for the continent’s strategic autonomy and further enable it to protect not only itself, its values, and its interests, but also its neighbours from hostile actors. 

While strategic autonomy for Europe is a long-term ambition, we must face the fact that our inability to provide the support required for Ukraine to defend itself against an existential threat could easily define the fate of European security for all of us.

No more empty lip service, please

Guiding Europe towards a future of credible deterrence, a more balanced transatlantic partnership in NATO, and the ability to respond to critical threats to the union is crucial. 

EU voters must strive for a future where threats to our borders, our near-abroad, or even the vital global supply lines we rely on can be addressed with a combination of cohesive diplomacy and credible deterrence. 


With this in mind, voters must cast their ballots with determination, fully understanding the need and urgency for a robust European Union. 

Come June, citizens must elect European lawmakers who will not pay lip service to our collective security needs and are not afraid to push uncomfortable yet necessary policies. 

With so many threats on the horizon, we need a union that can navigate the turbulent seas of the future and protect the European dream of peace and prosperity for its people and global neighbours. 

Without a vote in favour of our security, we cannot hope to continue our lives in peace, further progress and development. 

Alexander Borum is Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, focusing on the European Union Common Security and Defence Policy.


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