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


English, French, Arabic


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 defence review: the real strategic questions

Britain’s defence review must take on board how much the world has changed since the late 1900s and focus on preserving Britain’s power and influence, both in and through Europe

Tough snub

Obama’s snub of the May EU-US summit is tough, but fair. If it wants to be taken seriously on the world stage, the EU must stop complaining and learn from this and other recent disappointments

Too many cooks

After nearly a decade of effort, the Lisbon Treaty is finally in place ? and Europeans finally have the chance to develop the unified voice and combined weight in the world that we all now understand to be necessary. Yet Europe?s national leaders seem unable to curb the sort of self-indulgent behaviour that will sabotage this historic opportunity.

Europe?s troublesome neighbours

Europe’s southern and eastern border give cause for significant concern. It needs to wake up to where its real security interests lie.

How Europe can be heard in Washington

Europeans must steel themselves to discuss, within the EU, the big issues on which Europe must engage the US

Get a grip

To avoid creeping irrelevance, Europe must find a collective voice on the international stage

Europe is wasting its ?Obama Moment?

National governments in the EU must shake off illusions about the transatlantic relationship if they want to avoid irrelevance on the global stage



Sanity returns to British foreign policy

Rishi Sunak has reintroduced sensible pragmatism to British foreign policy – but the nature of today’s Tory party means he is not out of the woods yet

The end of Brexit fever

As Britain reels from its latest political fiasco, the conspiracy of silence on Brexit is finally over

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



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