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.

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

Views from the Capitals: What Biden’s victory means for Europe

What will a Biden administration herald for Europe? The heads of ECFR’s seven offices report on the mood in the capitals

How Britain will approach the Brexit endgame

Prime Minister Boris Johnson likely has no plan other than to stay in power. He will rely on his two closest advisers to oversee Brexit.

Putting China in its place: Britain prepares to sack Huawei

Whatever good reasons the British government may have to reverse its position on Huawei, the key factor has been a rebellion on its backbenches and a mood of righteous indignation about the behaviour of Xi Jinping’s China

Publications

Articles

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

Views from the Capitals: What Biden’s victory means for Europe

What will a Biden administration herald for Europe? The heads of ECFR’s seven offices report on the mood in the capitals

How Britain will approach the Brexit endgame

Prime Minister Boris Johnson likely has no plan other than to stay in power. He will rely on his two closest advisers to oversee Brexit.

Putting China in its place: Britain prepares to sack Huawei

Whatever good reasons the British government may have to reverse its position on Huawei, the key factor has been a rebellion on its backbenches and a mood of righteous indignation about the behaviour of Xi Jinping’s China

Specials

Podcasts

In the media