It is often said that the EU is forged in crisis. After weathering what feels like so many crises over the past 15 years, the EU’s swift and decisive response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has, for the most part, been welcomed as the EU finally getting a crisis right.
In the first weeks of the war, the EU adopted an impressive series of sanctions, rapidly widening the net cast over growing numbers of targeted individuals and institutions. It has also provided over EUR 2 billion of ‘lethal aid’ to Ukraine to help it fight off the invaders, a notion that would have been absolutely unthinkable only a few short months ago.
In advance of our 2022 edition of the annual CEPS Ideas Lab and harnessing our broad inhouse expertise, we gave our CEPS contributors a simple instruction for compiling this special report – to dive deep into their specialist areas and provide their perspective on whether the invasion and subsequent crisis is a true ‘game changer’ in terms of the EU’s immediate and ongoing policy response. Or, to put it another way, will 2022 be viewed by future historians as a year of genuine transformation, a transformation fuelled by the largest conventional conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War?
The picture that emerges from the fog of war is a fragmented one. A general conclusion is that while there have been some positive changes in certain policy areas (such as migration, sanctions, energy and climate), the use of the term ‘game changer’ is as of yet unwarranted. The only real exception here, and where an alleged transformation can be argued is really starting to place, is in security and defence policy.