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

Cover: Europe’s Neighbourhood: Crisis as the new normal

Europe’s Neighbourhood: Crisis as the new normal

by Susi Dennison & Nick Witney - 23rd June, 2015

Europe’s European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) needs drastic reform to deal with a region characterised by conflict, counter-revolution, and extremism

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Does Europe need a bigger military force? (Blog)

by Nick Witney - 24th March, 2015

Former EU High Representative, Dr. Javier Solana, ECFR's Nick Witney, and Hilmar Linnenkamp from SWP, discuss the need for "More Union in European Defence".


More Union in European Defence (Podcast)

24th March, 2015

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.  

Pressing Europeans on Defence: A US Power Play (Commentary)

by Nick Witney - 12th March, 2015

American UN ambassador Samantha Power explains why the EU needs to up its contributions to global UN peacekeeping.

More union in European defence (Commentary)

by Nick Witney - 05th March, 2015

In a world of unprecedented change, Europeans need a global plan if they are to ensure their children’s security and prosperity.

After the Paris Massacre: fighting back with restraint (Commentary)

by Nick Witney - 08th January, 2015

‘Fighting back’ may actually require the exercise of self-restraint – and a disciplined demonstration of tolerance and openness.

Ten Commandments for effective interventionism (Commentary)

by Nick Witney - 19th December, 2014

Ten commandments for effective interventionism, building on Witney's recent publication with Richard Gowan.

Cover: Why Europe must stop outsourcing its security

Why Europe must stop outsourcing its security

by Richard Gowan & Nick Witney - 15th December, 2014

The EU's habit of outsourcing its military interventions is problematic for a multitude of reasons.

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Read all from Nick Witney

Read all publications from Nick Witney