Sunday 23 May 2010

SDA Roundtables

The staple of SDA activities is its monthly Roundtables. These explore topical issues and are attended by some 80+ defence and security experts. Sessions are opened by three or four panellists, followed by open debate from the floor. Discussions are summarised in concise reports that are circulated to stakeholders worldwide. The SDA also hosts evening debates, often in collaboration with other think tanks.
Topics of Roundtables in past years have included:

  • The private security phenomenon: policy implications and issues
  • The issues shaping Asian security
  • Is Europe serious about space and security?
  • Defending Europe’s vulnerable infrastructure
  • What are NATO’s next steps on Missile Defence?
  • Cutting through the transatlantic tangle of defence equipment export controls
  • Borders & People: the Liberty and Security balance
  • Charting the Development and Uses of Network Centric Capabilities
  • What policies will create effective peacekeeping?
  • Defence Aspects of the NATO and EU Enlargement
  • Is Maritime Security Europe’s Achilles Heel?
  • Does Europe need a Black Sea security policy?


SDA’s Monthly Roundtable setting at the Bibliotheque Solvay

Speaker panel at the Asian Security Roundtable

Nicholas Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs giving a keynote speech during member’s lunch

Magnus Ovilius, European Commission poses questions at Critical Infrastructure Protection Roundtable

SDA Conferences

The SDA organises major annual defence and security conferences in Brussels and elsewhere, to enable senior defence and security policymakers, industrialists, media and analysts to discuss key policy issues. These one-day events bring together high-profile policymakers with industry, analysts, NGOS, and international press.
SDA’s Annual conferences have in the past years included;
  • Global NATO: Overdue or Overstretch? November 2006
  • Protecting Europe: policies for enhancing security in Europe, May 2006
  • Towards an EU Strategy for Collective Security, February 2006
  • Reinventing NATO: Does the Alliance reflect the changing nature of transatlantic security? November 2005
  • Placing Terrorism at the top of NATO’s New Agenda, November 2005
  • European Defence Integration: Bridging the Gap between Strategy and Capabilities, October 2005
  • Defending Global Security: The New Politics of Transatlantic Defence Cooperation, May 2004
  • Towards Worldwide Security: Building the Transatlantic Agenda, November 2003
  • Reinventing Global Security, June 2003
  • The Relaunching of Transatlantic Relations and Anti-Terrorism Cooperation, May 2003
  • How credible are Europe’s Anti-Terrorism Defences? October 2002


Annual conference at Palais d’Egmont

Commissioner Franco Frattini delivering keynote address during lunch

Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Participants at the Bibliotheque Solvay during NATO conference

SDA Press Dinners

The Security & Defence Agenda (SDA) regularly hosts Press Dinners that bring together some 25 senior journalists and defence experts to reach public opinion and to raise the profile of issues and of key policymakers. The dinners take place in a prestigious informal environment with SDA Advisory Board and VIP members.
Our press event guests have includes personalities such as
  • Günter Verheugen, Vice President and EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry
  • Robert J. Stevens, Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin
  • Nick Witney, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency
  • Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Border & Transport Security of the US Department of Homeland Security
  • General James L. Jones, then NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe
  • Erkki Liikanen, then EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society
  • Margot Wallström, then EU Commissioner for Environment


Press Dinner with EU Commissioner Gunter Verheugen and Thomas Diehl

Nick Witney, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency

Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens talks to journalists

Small informal dinners bring together policymakers and press

Special Events

SDA organises a wide range of events including high-level evening debates, reporting groups and expert seminars.


These high-level events gather guest speakers and are set in a informal cafe style setting. Past events have included

  • EU’s Africa Strategy: what are the lessons learned from the Congo Mission? organised together with the Hanns Seidel Stiftung on 7 March 2007.
  • Challenges to the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base organised together with the Finnish EU Presidency and the European Defence Agency in November 2006
  • Book launch ‘The Utility of Force: the Art of War in the Modern World’ with General Sir Rupert Smith and Javier Solana on 19 January 2006.
  • Closing Ranks: what Future for European Defence? organised with the Fondation Schuman on 21 November 2005 and featuring Michele Alliot-Marie, Defence Minister of France, John Reid, State Secretary of Defence of UK and Javier Solana, EU’s High Representative for CFSP.


French Officials Jean de Ponton d’Amécourt and Gen. Christian Damay debate the EUFOR mission. 

Then Polish Minister of Defence Rodoslaw Sikorski at a debate co-organised with the EU’s Finnish Presidency.

General Sir Rupert Smith presented his book ‘Utility of Force’ at a debate with Javier Solana.

Then French Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie with then British Secretary of State for Defense John Reid.




The SDA’s initiative, a Reporting Group on Bioterrorism, has put forward policy recommendations from experts in the field.
The Reporting Group assembles high-level experts in Brussels that contribute to Reports that the SDA presents to the appropriate authorities, ranging from EU institutions to NATO, and from member governments to international organisations and the press. The meetings of the Bioterrorism Reporting Group allow for open and frank discussions and encourage participants to think outside the box, identify priorities and propose solutions.
Five policy reports have been released
  • Countering Bioterrorism: Prevention and Protection, in June 2004
  • Countering Bioterrorism: Science, Technology and Oversight in November 2004.
  • Next Generation Threat Reduction: Bioterrorism’s challenges and solutions  in February 2005
  • Countering Bioterrorism: How can Europe and the United States work together?’ in June 2005
  • Is the EU prepared for a pandemic flu? in December 2006


In 2004, the WHO and pharmaceutical industry representatives discussed science, industry and oversight.

A reporting group meeting in the Bibliothèque

The European Commission’s Robert Madelin briefed a dinner debate on initiatives to fight avian flu.

A high-level panel of transatlantic experts looked at how Europe and the US could work together on bio initiatives in 2005.


In March 2007, the SDA conducted a study for the French Ministry of Defence – Shaping Europe’s Defence Debate – looking at the quality of debate amongst defence and security experts of the future course of the ESDP in Brussels. 29 top experts in the field gathered at the Bibliothèque Solvay on March 26th to for a lunch debate on the topic. Their discussions concluded that ESDP had progressed in the past five years, however a strategic picture was lacking and think tanks could help in that endeavour. Lessons could be learned from Washington, as it had a longer history of linking think tanks with officialdom.

In June 2006, SDA organised jointly with the European Defence Agency (EDA) an expert seminar on the EDA’s Long-Term Vision (LTV) Europe’s Long-Term Vision of the Defence Environment in 2025: sharp or fuzzy?. The seminar brought together 30   high-level military representatives, policymakers and think tankers. Guests included Nick Witney, Chief Executive of the EDA, General Rolando Mosca Moschini, Chairman of EU Military Committee, General Sir Rupert Smith,  former DSACEUR and former Commander of UNPROFOR, Nicole Gnesotto, Director of EU-ISS and Rear Admiral Jean-Louis Kerignard, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, Allied Command Transformation.

On 19 October 2005, SDA together with Kenyon and Oxford Metrica organised a expert seminar on the Economic Impact of Disaster: how high should response policies be on the political agenda?. The event looked at how should we measure the economic impact of disasters on both public and private sector organisations and to what extent can the impact be softened by advance preparation and more effective crisis management of the situation. Other questions addressed wherewhat is the real risk of not being adequately prepared?What should be the roles of the EU, national and regional governments, NATO, NGOs and private companies in responding to terrorist events and natural disasters? How should these roles be co-ordinated?What lessons can we learn from recent disaster-relief efforts, such as hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and the terrorist attacks in London, Madrid and New York?

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