Experts & Staff

Nick Witney

Senior Policy Fellow

Languages: English, French, Arabic
Areas of Expertise: International relations, International Security Policy, the European Security and Defence Policy, military capabilities development, defence equipment cooperation, research and industry, the Middle East and North Africa, the Middle East Peace Process

Nick Witney is a senior policy fellow at ECFR.

He previously served as the first chief executive of the European Defence Agency in Brussels. High Representative Javier Solana chose Nick 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 Nick 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.

Nick’s earlier 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, Nick 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.

Latest from Nick Witney

  • Brexit and Britain’s security - the operational perspective

    On 23 June, the British public will vote on the future of Britain in the EU. Security issues have already featured prominently in the debate. We brought together five distinguished former practitioners from the military, police, intelligence and diplomatic services – all with recent top-level, operational, responsibilities, and all now with the independence to 'tell it how it is'. Vice-Admiral Sir Anthony Dymock, Simon Foy, Nigel Inkster, Baroness Pauline Neville Jones, and ECFR's Nick Witney discuss what a British exit from the EU would mean for Britain's security.

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    ECFR's World in 30 Minutes: Brexit and Britain’s Security

    ECFR's director Mark Leonard speaks with Vice-Admiral Sir Anthony Dymock, former UK Military Representative to NATO and the EU, Simon Foy, former head of the Metropolitan Police's Homicide and Serious Crimes Command, Nigel Inkster, former board member of MI6, Baroness Pauline Neville Jones, former Security Minister, and Nick Witney, former chief executive of European Defence Agency and ECFR senior policy fellow, about what a British exit from the EU would mean for Britain's security.

    The drawbridge fallacy by Mark Leonard

    Brexit to nowhere: The foreign policy consequences of “Out” by Nick Witney

    You can find an audio recording of the recent event Brexit and Britain’s Security: The Operational Perspective here.

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    ECFR's World in 30 Minutes: Brussels terror attacks

    ECFR's director Mark Leonard speaks with Manuel Lafont Rapnouil, Head of ECFR's Paris office, Anthony Dworkin, Senior Policy Fellow, and Nick Witney, co-director of ECFR's European Power programme, about the Brussels terror attacks and its implications on European security and unity.

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    ECFR's World in 30 Minutes: The British membership of the EU

    ECFR's director Mark Leonard speaks to Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor of the Times, and to Nick Witney and Susi Dennison, Co-Directors of ECFR's European Power programme, about the current state of the debate on the British membership of the European Union.

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    Is Europe prepared to pay a price for its defence ?

    Conférence du mercredi 10 février 2016 à l'ENS portant sur la défense européenne et les problématiques de sécurité qui touchent l'Union Européenne actuellement. Avec Nick Witney, Senior Policy Fellow à l'ECFR et coordinateur du programme European Power, et Manuel Lafont Rapnouil, directeur du bureau de l'ECFR Paris.

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    More Union in European Defence

    Former EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Dr Javier Solana, ECFR's Senior Policy Fellow, Nick Witney, and Advisor to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Hilmar Linnenkamp, discuss the need for more union in European defence.  

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    Nick Witney on Israel/Palestine

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