Languages: English, French, Arabic
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
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.
Nick Witney - 18 June, 2012
Against the backdrop of Egypt's presidential elections, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) staged a coup d’etat. For Europe, this counter-revolution constitutes a test of whether we have truly learned the lessons of the Arab uprisings.
Nick Witney - 13 June, 2011
Robert Gates has rightly earned the admiration of many in the security community. But his recent criticism of European contributions to NATO fail to come to terms with changes in how European nations conceive of their own security and the role NATO has to play in defending…
Tunisians need European help to turn their revolution into a democracy
Nick Witney - 25 February, 2011
Tunisians see Europe as complicit with the old regime of President Ben Ali, and were disappointed by the slow reaction of European leaders to their revolution. But they are willing to forgive, if their neighbours to the north makes amends by offering prompt and generous help as…
Nick Witney - 1 November, 2010
The announcement of a Franco-British defence partnership will be a watershed in European security thinking. Once that Rubicon has been crossed it will raise questions for their EU partners, and perhaps this will have a profound bearing on whether Europe can keep a seat in the…
A British exit from the EU would make it harder to fight crime and terrorism, reduce Britain’s ability to lead and influence its partners, and weaken NATO
by Nick Witney - 05th November, 2015
British exit from the EU would have serious foreign policy consequences – both for Britain and for the rest of Europe
Mark Leonard launches ECFR’s special summer series on European sovereignty with a discussion of the continent’s security and defence policy. He is joined by Nick Witney, a senior policy fellow at ECFR with a wealth of experience in diplomacy and defence strategy.…
Mark Leonard speaks with Tomas Valasek and Nick Witney about what the real military dependence of Europeans on America looks like and what is possible within the existing security budget. The podcast was recorded on 26 July 2018.
ECFR Policy Fellow Ulrike Franke speaks with Mark Leonard, former MP Douglas Alexander, and ECFR’s Senior Policy Fellow Nick Witney, about Britain’s future vision of EU-UK security cooperation after Brexit. The podcast was recorded on 13.12.2017 in…
ECFR’s director Mark Leonard discusses the launch of PESCO, the latest collective European defence initiative with ECFR Senior Policy Fellow Nick Witney and Policy Fellow, Ulrike Franke. The podcast was recorded on 24th November 2017. Bookshelf: George Orwell, Homage to…
Nouveau podcast de notre série sur les présidentielles de 2017 ayant pour objectif de traiter les thèmes d'actualité et de contribuer au débat dans la perspective des élections du printemps prochain. Entretien de Nick…
Mark Leonard speaks with former Director of the European Defence Agency Nick Witney, Manuel Lafont Rapnouil and Ulrike Esther Franke about European defence in the context of Brexit, increasing defence budgets and proposals for a Schengen of Defence. The podcast was recorded…
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