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European security revisited (ENSURE)

The law and governance of European security in a new geopolitical era

ENSURE (European security revisited) is a Max Planck Research Group headed by Dr Carolyn Moser and funded by the Max Planck Society (2022-27). It explores and critically assesses the – potentially significant – reshaping of law and governance triggered by the European Union's normative and policy adjustment to increasingly harsh geopolitical realities.

About the group

  • KEY ISSUE. The war in Ukraine represents a turning point in European integration, marking the coming of age of the European Union (EU) as a geopolitical actor. Given the increasingly competitive and even conflictual international context, we can expect the EU and its policies to change significantly in several respects over the next decade or two.
  • PURPOSE. The objective of the ENSURE research group is to investigate and critically assess the (potentially significant) changes in law and governance triggered by this geopolitical adjustment. Changes may relate to European and national actors and their prerogatives, decision-making and regulatory modalities, financial arrangements and industrial support, international cooperation and partnerships, or strategic objectives and political means.
  • QUESTION. Against this backdrop, ENSURE aims to provide a response to the pressing question: what law and governance for European security in a new geopolitical era? To answer this question, the group (i) examines whether and how the EU’s legal and institutional architecture needs to be adapted to the new geopolitical realities, and (ii) seeks to determine whether and how this adaptation can take place while reconciling constitutional norms and security interests.
  • FRAMING. ENSURE addresses European security from two complementary perspectives. In addition to examining specific policy areas that are likely to be central to European security and strategic autonomy (e.g., energy, IT, defence, agriculture), the group also explores the legal and governance challenges associated in particular with novel security threats (e.g., climate change, health emergencies, disinformation campaigns).
  • THEMES. The research of ENSURE unfolds along three interrelated strands of research:
    • Conceptual and strategic foundations. Under this theme, the group investigates and interrogates concepts, (legal) principles, and strategic considerations that shape European security policies and activities.
    • Actors and accountability. This strand of research deals with the reconfiguration of the legal and institutional framework of European security, which is currently in a state of flux.
    • Regulatory modalities and policy instruments. Specific (new) challenges require appropriate normative solutions and policy tools. Hence, recalibrating legal and policy instruments to face the geopolitical realities of the 21st century is the focus of the third research area.
  • RESEARCH DESIGN. The comprehensive legal and governance analysis is based on an interdisciplinary research design (legal analysis combined with political science research tools) that allows exploration of both the theory and practice of European security. Indeed, a thorough desk study of legal and para-legal sources, as well as their discussion and contextualization in the academic literature, is embedded in a broader theoretical framework, which in turn is complemented by empirical findings obtained through qualitative research methods (i.e., semi-structured interviews).


ENSURE counts a handful of team members that all contribute to the success of the project.

 Dr Carolyn Moser

Dr Carolyn Moser, Research Group Leader

ENSURE is led by Dr Carolyn Moser. She conducts research in the field of international and European law, with a special focus on security and defence in Europe. Carolyn was trained in both law and political science at Sciences Po Paris and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University, USA), and holds a PhD from Utrecht University on EU civilian crisis management. She received several awards and distinctions for her research, notably the Otto-Hahn-Medal and the European Court of Auditors Award. Her interdisciplinary expertise is solicited also beyond academic circles, for instance by EU and international institutions (eg European Parliament; OSCE; World Bank) and in the media (eg ZDF; NDR; ORF; SRF; Deutschlandfunk). A full list of her publications can be found here.

Rocío Bargon Sachéz, Administrative Assistant

 Felicitas Burst

Felicitas Burst, Research Fellow

Laurids Hempel, Research Assistant

 Lukas Märtin

Lukas Märtin, Research Assistant

Yuliya Miadzvetskaya, Affiliated PhD candidate

Effi Spiegel, Research Assistant

 Dr Tarek Tutunji

Dr Tarek Tutunji, Affiliated Researcher

Dr Tarek Tutunji is an affiliated senior research fellow whose research focusses on informal institutions in world politics, with a current focus on disinformation. Tarek received his PhD in Political Science in 2019 from Johns Hopkins University with a dissertation on the emergence of informal rules around propaganda and covert action during the Cold War.



  • Carolyn Moser, The war in Ukraine and its repercussions on Europe's "security and defence constitution) (blogpost), September 2022
  • Carolyn Moser & Steven Blockmans, The extent of the European Parliament’s competence in Common Security and Defence Policy (study), June 2022
  • Carolyn Moser & Estelle Hoorickx, The EU mutual assistance clause and its applicablity to novel threats (e-Note; English; French), June 2022
  • Carolyn Moser, Is Berlin's overdue defence policy adjustment also a "game changer" for Franco-German relations? (blogpost), March 2022
  • Carolyn Moser & Berthold Rittberger, The CJEU and EU (de-)constitutionalization—unpacking jurisprudential responses. In: International Journal of Constitutional Law, forthcoming autumn 2022 Working Paper version


  • Carolyn Moser talks with Julia Weigelt (NDR) about the geopolitical awakening of Europe and the EU in the wake of the Russian war on Ukraine for the NDR Info Podcast "Streitkräfte und Strategien" (armed forces and strategies), broadcasted on 19 September 2022, available online (in German language) here