New year, new Europe: Defence strategy, capabilities and technology

, Berlin time (CET, UTC+1)
Venue: Brussels

Europe faces an increasingly unstable world and a radically transformed security environment in 2024. With a major war in the heart of Europe and multiple crises in our neighbourhood, it has become increasingly important for European leaders to meet the security challenges of tomorrow by focusing on strategy, capabilities and cooperation.

In NATO’s 75th anniversary year, ahead of a new EU institutional cycle in late 2024, we are delighted to present New year, new Europe: Defence strategy, capabilities and technology, the inaugural event of the European Council on Foreign Relations’ new defence initiative.

The conference aims to carve out the contours of a new strategic direction on defence for EU leaders. It will bring together a strategic community of leaders and practitioners across the EU institutions, NATO, EU member states, industry, media, and civil society to think creatively and practically about how Europe can strengthen its role as a geopolitical actor and global power.

Please note that the event is by invitation only.

Media partner



10:30 – 11:00         Opening conversation, with Mark Leonard, Director, ECFR and Camille Grand, Distinguished Policy Fellow, ECFR

11:00 – 12:15          Age of confrontation: How do NATO and the EU cope with crises, conflicts, and long-term competition?

As NATO rebuilds its warfighting mindset and muscle, the EU is creating for the first time, the mechanisms and tools to become a credible and capable defence actor. Yet, for all their progress, some hurdles remain. Is the ambition and pace of NATO and EU efforts sufficient? What are the opportunities to further deepen EU-NATO cooperation, and what factors stand in the way? What lessons can we draw from the cold war for long-term competition with Russia and China today and in the future? How should Ukraine feature in these considerations?


  • Rachel Ellehuus, Secretary of Defense Representative in Europe and the Defense Advisor, US Mission to NATO
  • Ambassador Charles Fries, Deputy Secretary General for Peace, Security and Defence, EEAS
  • Ambassador Boris Ruge, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, NATO
  • Nathalie Loiseau, Chair, Subcommittee on Security and Defence, European Parliament
  • Chair: Sylvie Kauffmann, Editorial Director, Le Monde

12:15 – 12:30         ECFR insight with Majda Ruge, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR

 12:30 – 13:30        LUNCH BREAK

13:30 – 14:30         A European missile gap? Lessons from Ukraine for missile defence and nuclear deterrence

Since 24 February 2022, thousands of Russian drones and missiles have struck military and civilian targets across Ukraine. Russia’s nuclear threats have deterred direct intervention by NATO and possibly constrained some Western deliveries of military aid to Ukraine. Western nuclear deterrence has played a role in preventing a horizontal escalation of the conflict. In this context, what is the right mix of offensive and defensive capabilities to counter the Russian missile threat, and which investments should Europeans prioritise? Should NATO adapt its missile defence and nuclear posture? How should development outside the Euro-Atlantic area factor into this debate?


ECFR insight with Rafael Loss, Policy Fellow, ECFR

  • Robert Bell, former Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, NATO; former US Secretary of Defence Representative for Europe
  • Lieutenant General (ret.) Heinrich Brauß, former Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, NATO
  • Alexandre Vulic, Deputy Director for Strategic Affairs, Security and Disarmament, Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France
  • Chair: Jana Puglierin, Head of Berlin Office and Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR

 14:30 – 15:30         Gradually, then suddenly: Technological change and the war in Ukraine

 The war in Ukraine combines the use of 20th century technology (artillery and armour) on a massive scale in a war of attrition and extremely innovative developments associated with the use of emerging and disruptive technologies (unmanned systems, electromagnetic warfare, space assets, battlefield management software) on an unprecedented scale. Europe and NATO need to draw lessons from these developments.


  • François Arbault, Director for Defence Industry, Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space, European Commission
  • Gustav Gressel, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
  • Jan Pie, Secretary General, Aerospace, Security and Defence Industries Association for Europe
  • Jiří Šedivý, Chief Executive, European Defence Agency
  • Chair: Camille Grand, Distinguished Policy Fellow, ECFR

15:30 – 16:15         Networking and end of conference