Experts & Staff

Nick Witney

Senior Policy Fellow

Areas of expertise

International relations; international security policy; European security and defence policy; military capabilities development; defence equipment cooperation; research and industry; Middle East and North Africa; the Middle East Peace Process

Languages

English, French, Arabic

Biography

Nick Witney is a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. His topics of focus range from the European Security and Defence Policy to the Middle East Peace Process.

Witney previously served as the first chief executive of the European Defence Agency in Brussels. High Representative Javier Solana chose him in January 2004 to lead the project team charged with developing the concept and blueprint for the agency. The European Council approved the team’s proposals in July 2004, an achievement recognised by European Voice in nominating Witney as one of its 50 “Europeans of the Year”. After that, he was appointed to establish and run the agency for its first three years.

Witney’s early career, after reading Classics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was spent in British government service, first with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and later with the Ministry of Defence (MOD). As a diplomat, he learned Arabic in Lebanon and Jordan, served in Baghdad, and spent four years as private secretary to the British ambassador in Washington, D.C.

Working with the MOD, Witney took on a wide range of responsibilities, including planning and finance, defence exports (the al-Yamamah programme with Saudi Arabia), nuclear policy, the defence estate (running the privatisation of the MOD’s married quarters housing stock), the new Labour government’s 1998 Strategic Defence Review, the forward Equipment Programme, and defence industrial policy. His last job before leaving for Brussels was as the MOD’s director-general of International Security Policy, where he was responsible for NATO and EU policy as well as missile defence.

The Truss premiership: Winter is coming

The new British prime minister is on a collision course with reality – and leaders across Europe may not even bank on her remaining in Downing Street for long

The EU’s Strategic Compass: Brand new, already obsolete

The Strategic Compass underlines the collective action problem at the heart of European attempts to pool defence efforts and resources: everyone agrees that closer integration is essential, but everyone wants someone else to go first

Out of the dark: Reinventing European defence cooperation

Russia’s all-out war on Ukraine has convinced many European states to rebuild their militaries. In doing so, they should initially focus on readiness, capability gaps, and joint equipment procurement and research.

AUKUS: After the sugar rush

The initial high of announcing AUKUS has faded for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has returned from the United States to face a less congenial domestic agenda

Publications

Articles

The Truss premiership: Winter is coming

The new British prime minister is on a collision course with reality – and leaders across Europe may not even bank on her remaining in Downing Street for long

The EU’s Strategic Compass: Brand new, already obsolete

The Strategic Compass underlines the collective action problem at the heart of European attempts to pool defence efforts and resources: everyone agrees that closer integration is essential, but everyone wants someone else to go first

Out of the dark: Reinventing European defence cooperation

Russia’s all-out war on Ukraine has convinced many European states to rebuild their militaries. In doing so, they should initially focus on readiness, capability gaps, and joint equipment procurement and research.

AUKUS: After the sugar rush

The initial high of announcing AUKUS has faded for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has returned from the United States to face a less congenial domestic agenda

Britain’s global pipe dream

The UK’s Integrated Review clings to old illusions and ignores today’s situation on the ground. Britain should accept the realities of geography and rebuild cooperation with its closest partners.

The great Brexit heist

Following an uncompromisingly hard Brexit, all the new limitations and sources of friction in Britain’s economic, political, and human interactions with the EU will only now kick in

Specials

Podcasts

In the media