Abstract: Facing recent global disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and the race for raw materials and technology needed for the green transition, economic interdependence—not least unilateral dependence—has increasingly come to be seen as a security threat. In response, the EU has put resilience and strategic autonomy at the centre of its trade and investment agenda. The EU was long resistant to this geoeconomic turn, that is, the use of economic tools for geopolitical purposes in normal times. Since 2017, however, the EU has placed greater emphasis on identifying and mitigating the security vulnerabilities that accrue from open markets. This geoeconomic turn has culminated in the June 2023 release of the European Commission’s Economic Security Strategy, which aims to maximise the benefits of economic openness while minimising the risks from economic interdependence. The aim of this thematic issue is to analyse the foundations of this new European focus on economic security and, more specifically, on the increased use of geoeconomic instruments. Coming at this objective from a variety of disciplinary traditions, methodologies, and substantive focus, our contributors tackle, among others, the following questions: Why has the EU abandoned its reluctance to use geoeconomics and finally made the switch towards economic security? How does the EU’s approach compare with other major global players? And, what are the long-term implications of the EU’s economic security strategy for European integration, its relationship with partners and allies, and the global economic order?
Keywords: anti-globalization backlash; economic security; European Union; geoeconomics; investment; trade