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13.02.2012, 11:33

Nick Witney

Senior Policy Fellow, The European Council on Foreign Relations, London; Former
Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency

Nick Witney, until autumn 2007 the first Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA) in Brussels, is now an international affairs analyst. After an interlude in Paris, he now works primarily with the London office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (, a pan-European think-tank committed to promoting a more integrated and effective European foreign policy.

In 2008 and 2009 ECFR published his major reports on “Re-energising Europe’s Security and Defence Policy” and (co-authored with Jeremy Shapiro of Brookings) “Towards a Post-American Europe: a Power Audit of EU/US Relations”. Latterly he has written on the Arab Spring and the Israel/Palestine conflict, as well as re-visiting European defence (“How to Stop the Demilitarisation of Europe” -- ECFR, 2011).

Nick was chosen by Javier Solana in January 2004 to lead the project team charged with developing the concept and blue-print for the EDA – and following the approval by the European Council of the team’s proposals in July 2004 (an achievement recognised by the European Voice in nominating Nick one of its 50 ‘Europeans of the Year’), he was appointed to establish and run the Agency for its first 3 years.

His previous 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 4 years as Private Secretary to the British Ambassador in Washington.

With the MOD, his career covered a wide range of responsibilities: planning and finance; defence exports (the Al Yamamah programme with Saudi Arabia); nuclear policy; the defence estate (he ran the privatisation of the MOD’s married quarters housing stock); the Labour Government’s 1998 Strategic Defence Review; the forward Equipment Programme; and defence industrial policy. During a 1990s sabbatical with RAND, Santa Monica, he published on British and European nuclear policies. His last job before Brussels was as the MOD’s Director-General of International Security Policy, responsible for NATO and EU policy as well as missile defence.

Other projects of the SAC

Euro-Atlantic Quarterly EAQ