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Europeans know that ''the logic of spheres of influence and zero-sum games does not work'', High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini said during her speech at the Munich Security Conference last Friday, 15 February.
The Munich Security Conference is the world’s leading forum for debating international security policy. This year, the Munich Security Report – published ahead of the conference – speaks of an epochal shift in the international security order, with one era coming to an end.
Commenting on these challenges, HR/VP Mogherini explained how the European way to security and defence is through cooperation, investing in partnerships and multilateralism, deploying Europe's trade-mark soft power whilst adding a credible hard power component to it.
Solving a crisis or preventing one does not only or always require a traditional security component. It also requires a ''creative mix of tools'' that can include diplomacy and mediation, economic support, human rights, climate action, humanitarian aid, training for local security forces. This is Europe's unique soft power.
At the same time, Europeans have made unprecedented progress in working together on military capacity and the defence industry over the past years – with such initiatives as PESCO, for example. ''This is a big part of our work on the Europe of defence, to incentivise Member States, to plan together their defence spending, to invest together, to research together, but also to train their troops together, and to act together on the ground'', High Representative Mogherini explained.
Cooperation with partners – including the UN and NATO – is key. EU-NATO cooperation is stronger than ever before, and building a European defence also means strengthening NATO. In the High Representative's words: ''For us Europeans, strategic autonomy and cooperation with our partners are two sides of the same coin. We have chosen the path – if you allow me to use a new expression – of cooperative autonomy''.