Policy Areas

The Security & Defence Agenda (SDA) has been at the heart of the Brussels policymakers community for almost a decade. It raises awareness by anticipating the political agenda and focusing attention on European and transatlantic policy challenges. Its ensures the voices of all stakeholders are heard by gathering representatives from NATO and the EU, national governments, industry, academia, think-tanks and the media. The SDA places emphasis on topical, lively and innovative debates giving all stakeholders an opportunity to voice their opinions.




The SDA provides Brussel’s premier platform for the discussion of relations between NATO and the EU. The evolving nature of the transatlantic relationship and the challenges of reform that face the Alliance have been core themes. The ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the new focus on civil-military co-operation this entails have proven controversial topics for debate. The SDA’s annual NATO and Security & Defence Day conferences form a core component of the Brussels defence and security calendar.


The SDA has hosted successive NATO Secretary Generals; from the patronage of Lord Robertson at its foundation to the current co-presidential direction of Jaap De Hoop Scheffer and Javier Solana. The SDA has also welcomed  important actors in the draft of NATO’s new Strategic Concept, such as Madeleine Albright. The evolution of the CSDP has also been a key topic for the SDA, with central players like David Leakey  providing continuous insights to the EU’s developing defence capacities. During the French Presidency of the EU in 2008, the SDA was at the heart of the defence debate, hosting Defence Minister Hervé Morin.


Hervé Morin
Former French Minister of Defence

Jaap De Hoop


Former NATO

Secretary General

Madeleine Albright

Former US Secretary of State

Javier Solana

Former EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy

Lord George Robertson

Former NATO Secretrary General

 Lt. Gen. David Leakey
Former Director
General of the
European Union
Military Staff


EU Home Affairs

EU home affairs constitute a dynamic and ever-changing topic for debate. Traditional fields such as civil protection and police cooperation have been joined by new challenges, including the rising focus on critical infrastructure protection throughout Europe. Since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the integration of EU mechanisms for border security has seen this field take on a renewed significance, whilst the EU continues to legislate on the CBRN threat.


The SDA has hosted the highest European Commission officials in these areas, including Cecilia Malmström, Kristalina Georgieva, and Stefano Manservisi. National political representatives such as Pat Cox and Michèle Alliot Marie have also regularly shared their persepctives at SDA events. The technical and organisational challenges that underpin policy decisions have been explored through the operational expertise of figures such as Ilkka Laitinen.


Michèle Alliot-Marie
French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Cecilia Malmström

European Commissioner for Home Affairs

Pat Cox

Former President of the European Parliament

Brig. Gen. Ilkka Laitinen

Executive Director of FRONTEX

Kristalina Georgieva

European Commissioner for Int. Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response

Stefano Manservisi
Director General for Home Affairs in the European Commission


Defence Economy

The SDA continues to chart developments in defence’s industrial base, maintaining a dialogue with the stakeholders that make up the European and US defence economy. Europe and NATO have been seeking a more integrated defence market, that will bring greater value for money from state defence budgets and increased research and innovation for this important sector.


Key voices have included industry leaders such as Robert J. Stevens, and Defence Ministers like Desmond Browne and Pieter De Crem. Central institutional figures such as Benoit d’Aboville and Claude-France Arnould have also contributed. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the SDA has headed the budget cut debate, hosting a Ministry of Defence delegation prior to the UK Strategic Defence and Security Review, and SACT General Abrial on the reform challenges facing NATO. 


Gen. Stéphane Abrial

NATO Supreme Allied Command Transformation

Robert J. Stevens

Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin

Pieter De Crem

Belgian Minister of Defence

Claude-France Arnould

EDA Executive Director

Benoit d’Aboville

Former French Ambassador to NATO

 Desmond Browne

Former UK Defence Minister


New Threats

The security and defence challenges which Europe and the transatlantic alliance face increasingly include new and unpredictable elements. The SDA has looked at biothreats in terrorism and pandemics, and hosted panels of experts on these issues long before it was placed on the EU’s policy agenda. The SDA has pioneered the exploration of cybersecurity issues. With the publication of the “Energy 2020” strategy in 2010, climate change and energy security have also been firmly placed on the agenda for the coming decade.


The SDA has welcomed key cyber-industry stakeholders such as Craig Mundie, and institutional figures working in this developing area, such as Gabor Iklody and Jamie Shea. The SDA also hosted an exclusive event with William J. Lynn on the US perspective on cyberdefence. International figures from the health sector including Susanne Weber-Mosdorf have provided expert opinions in this evolving field.  More recently, the SDA and the Atlantic Council have collaborated with NATO ACT’s Global Commons research initiative, featuring high-level speakers such as Robert Bell highlighting the changing threat environment in the world’s oceans and space.  


Gabor Iklody 

Assistant Secretary General of NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division

Craig Mundie 

Chief Technical Officer for the Microsoft Cooperation

William J. Lynn

US Deputy Secretary of Defense

Susanne Weber-Mosdorf

Assistant Director-General for the World Health Organization

Jamie Shea

Deputy Assistant Secretary General of NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division

 Robert Bell

US Secretary of Defense Representative to Europe and Defense Advisor