The debate about European strategic autonomy has picked up again. First used and agreed by the European Union without much fanfare in 2013, by the fall of 2020, European strategic autonomy had become a contested concept. Epitomising an intellectual and political agenda to navigate a world undergoing profound transformations, it represents a guiding light for a more consequential EU global role, but not one devoid of dilemmas. Scratching beneath the surface, what does European strategic autonomy mean? Why has it emerged as a prominent theme in the European political and policy debate? Why is it controversial? And how should it be pursued?