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 - 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 they rebuild their country.
Nick Witney - 01 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 global game.
Nick Witney - 20 September 2010
If there was ever a moment for defence ministers to pool their efforts and resources, then this is it. Defence budgets across the continent are being severely cut as austerity measures kick in. Ahead of the defence ministers' meeting in Ghent on 23-24 September, Nick Witney points out that the Lisbon Treaty offers defence ministers a ready-made ‘transnational defence cooperation’ device in the form of PESCO – and urges them to use it.
Nick Witney - 14 September 2010
Tight budgets mean hard choices. For instance, new aircraft carriers would be lovely but they cost a lot. As the UK's Strategic Defence and Security Review reaches its final stages, Nick Witney argues that perhaps it’s time to start sharing with the French.
Nick Witney - 17 May 2010What is defence really for and what should Europe do after defence budgets have been ravaged by the economic crisis? In the second of a two part series of podcasts, Daniel Korski talks to Nick Witney about how European security will have to be rethought from the ground up after the economic crisis - and how the best option might be to become a spikey, hedgehog-like larger version of Switzerland.
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. Witney discusses how today’s strategically-divergent Europeans can collectively bolster their defence capabilities to offset new pressures from Russia and the southern border as well as reduce their reliance on the Americans.
This podcast was recorded on Friday, 12 July 2019.
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.
Mark Leonard talks to the all star cast of Nick Whitney, Ulrike Franke and Jeremy Shapiro on the topic of European strategic culture.
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 Berlin.
The Shardlake Series by C. J. Sampson
Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey
Lecture on David Cameron’s relationship with the EU by Sir Ivan Rogers
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.
George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
Peter Wilson, The Holy Roman Empire
Nick Witney, Re-energising Europe's Security and Defence Policy
Nick Witney, EU defence efforts miss the open goal again
ECFR, New Security Initiative essay collection
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 Witney, Senior Policy Fellow à l'ECFR, par Tara Varma, coordinatrice des activités du bureau de Paris de l'ECFR, sur l'avenir de la défense européenne.
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 on 29 September 2016
War Stories From the Future by the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare Project
Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World by Roger Crowley
Who are Refugees and Migrants? What Makes People Leave Their Homes? and Other Big Questions by Michael Rosen & Annemarie Young
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