Expressions used in Everyday Spoken English in Social and Professional contexts
When a person, a group, or even a nation is able to make choices and to determine their own future, they are said to have 'autonomy', which is freedom from external control or influence. Your boss might give you autonomy to make decisions about the tasks or projects you are working on; or your department might have the autonomy to spend its time or even its budget on whatever it decides is best, without higher management interfering. On a larger scale, a country which had never been controlled by another country has always had the autonomy to make its own laws and control its own economic future; while a country which is subordinate to a larger centralised body of government - such as the European Union - does not have the autonomy to determine its future. Instead, they have to abide by a decision made collectively by the European Union.