Rethinking European Security

The ‘Turning Point: Realising a Sustainable Security Architecture for Europe’ project – referred to as ‘Rethinking European Security’ – is driven by the need to generate a sustainable security systems change in Europe and beyond.

Rethinking European Security

This project is brought to you by BASIC in partnership with Rethinking Security.

Relations between states have become more complex and increasingly conflict-prone with the rise of multipolarity or multiorder, and we are facing a crisis in the international rules-based order. This is evident in Europe where governments are facing complex security challenges, most notably rising geopolitical tensions, and also climate change effects on security, and the rapid development of new technologies. The Russian war against Ukraine has uprooted decades of post-Cold War diplomacy aimed at creating a pan-European security architecture that allowed peaceful or stable relations between allied and non-allied European states. The Russian aggression against Ukraine indicates post-Cold War diplomacy has collapsed, and suggests that a new security architecture and new diplomacy is needed in Europe. It is clear that in the short-term, security in Europe must be organised in opposition to Russia. However, in the long-term, Europe’s security architecture, while still requiring shrewd defence, must be rethought beyond traditional alliances and agendas and involve Russia as a European state.

The ‘Turning Point: Realising a Sustainable Security Architecture for Europe’ project – referred to as ‘Rethinking European Security’ – is driven by the need to generate a sustainable security systems change in Europe and beyond.

The need to rethink beyond traditional alliances and agendas stems from this breakdown of post-Cold War diplomacy and importantly from new – or perhaps more precisely, newly realised – security issues, most importantly climate change’s impact on security, including human security, which has become an increasingly important topic in international politics. While geopolitical competition continues to threaten peaceful relations between states and societies in Europe, rapid global warming has led to – amongst other things – globally catastrophic heatwaves, floods, wildfires, and vector borne diseases. In Europe, temperatures are rising twice the pace as on any other continent. In recognition of this, states are increasingly seeing climate change as simultaneously a systemic crisis – that is, a threat to national security, the environment, and human security – and a threat multiplier, meaning that global warming shapes and affects the geopolitical environment leading to instability and geostrategic competition. The causal link between global warming and geostrategic competition has, however, not been established yet. As such, a new security architecture will encompass a trinity of traditional or hard, human, and climate securities. These three aspects are interconnected and inextricable to a modern understanding of security. It is insufficient for states to focus solely on traditional security without giving consideration to broader security aspects.

This project brings together representatives from selected Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member states. Throughout 2024 and 2025, five track 1.5 regional workshops will take place across Europe that include government officials and experts from more than 30 European states. Talks will be driven by a research-based working paper, produced by BASIC, that highlights the issues in need of consideration to develop a new security architecture. Workshop participants will co-create and explore possibilities for the development of a New Model for Security in Europe that equally prioritises human security and environmental security with traditional security concepts.

After finalising the participants’ Recommended Model for Security in Europe, the report ‘A New Model for Security in Europe’ will be launched at the final conference in Vienna in 2025 with participation from both Track 1 and Track 2 levels from across the states that have engaged with the project. We will present our findings to international organisations, institutions, and experts from the wider European community, turning the vision of a New Model for Security in Europe into a reality.

Rethinking European Security Quarterly Newsletter

Our quarterly newsletter aims to build a community that is passionate about Rethinking European Security through providing updates on the status of this project and commentary on a new European security architecture, and sharing the latest emerging discussions. To receive news and update about the project, subscribe here.

Meet the Team

Dr Gry Thomasen – Senior Policy Fellow and Programme Manager, BASIC
Dr Lisa Vickers – Policy Fellow, BASIC
Richard Reeve – Coordinator at Rethinking Security

With special thanks to our funders at the Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation, without whose support this project would not be possible.

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