1 – Europe at a crossroads
BSSB.BE geopolitical-info.com 15.03.2016
The European Union plans to adopt a “Global Strategy” for its foreign and security policies (EGS) at its June 22 summit. The document is the result of years of reflection on the increasing complexity of Europe’s external relations and interconnections.
A fundamental problem for the EU is that neither its individual member states nor the bloc as a whole possess the capacity and authority to react effectively to global threats.
- Europe’s individual nations may be indispensable, but none has the outreach and resources to act as a great power.
- The union has wide authority on specific global matters such as trade, but foreign affairs are kept outside its purview.
- This is the case even as the EU has prepared the groundwork for a common approach to external policy following the Lisbon Treaty (2009), and shown through its sanctions diplomacy that unified policy responses can be agreed upon.
Europe’s individual nations may be indispensable, but none has the outreach and resources to act as a great power
For Europe, the point of having a global strategy is to enable it to help shape the long-term conditions affecting the EU as a whole, while preserving the bloc’s advantages in global competition. The continent risks being overtaken by rivals able to project power globally – even on an individual, ad hoc basis. That means Europe must surmount internal differences to protect its economic, political, cultural and demographic identity.
This year’s EGS will replace the European Security Strategy (ESS) approved back in 2003. The change is long overdue. As the summer of 2016 approaches, Europe’s need for global orientation is becoming more urgent.
However, the agenda of the EU’s June summit is becoming increasingly crowded. This suggests that even if the EGS is accepted, it will not be a milestone event. Instead, the summit and its preparatory stages will be completely overshadowed by news from the United Kingdom, where a referendum on continued EU membership will be held on June 23, the day after the summit. Public opinion polls indicate a very close race between the “in” and “out” votes.
- In case the “out” vote wins, both the EU and the UK would presumably suffer in communized areas like trade.
- However, the UK, as one of Europe’s core nations, would continue to matter in the global strategic balance – provided Brexit does not trigger Scotland’s declaration of independence.
- Having the British as independent players may even allow more flexibility in coordinating the policies of countries that can make a difference in global affairs. Europe, by contrast, could suffer if the UK’s departure triggers more fragmentation and makes it harder to build consensus.
In a similar fashion, Brexit could well revitalize NATO as a common security platform. The EU, however, would be pulled apart as security interests of its member states diverge. This especially applies to some of the EU’s eastern members, whose dependence on the United States will likely strengthen the trend toward sub-regionalization and the emergence of new fault lines.
While Poland and the Baltics favor a strong U.S. link, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia might opt for broader ties with Russia. In each case, the European global interest in joint crisis management would be overshadowed by the logic of U.S.-Russian tensions.
The format diplomacy used to contain the Ukraine conflict and Iran’s nuclear program is one way to combine the weight of Europe’s leading nations with institutional heft of the entire EU – at least for as long as the U.S. refrains from “big-twoism” or unilateral action. Although it may seem paradoxical, the more European nations achieve a consensus on a common global orientation under EGS, the better their chances of preserving a strategic consensus with their counterparts in Washington.
Future U.S. intentions may also oscillate. During the 2014 NATO summit in Wales and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s subsequent lobbying campaign in Washington, the Obama administration avoided antagonizing Russia by refraining from direct military support. This stance had shifted markedly by early 2016, when the U.S. announced it was upgrading the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) in support of NATO members that feel threatened by Russia. The new spending will be focused on augmenting air capabilities in the Baltics and naval capabilities in the Black Sea. It primarily relates to what the George W. Bush administration called the “New Europe.”
The U.S. commitment ensures that ERI will become NATO’s dominant project. This will tend to reinforce Europe’s internal divisions over security priorities and relations with Russia. And the next American president may be even more receptive to advice from those who urge the U.S. to prevent a close partnership between Russia and Germany, or Russia and the EU at large. Ironically, this threat is most likely to materialize if right-wing populism were to succeed in Europe.
Euroscepticism Nations History
- winstonchurchill.org/ – The Truth of “Iron Curtain Speech” – This speech was delivered on 19 May 1986 to the Friends of the Memorial, New York City Branch. When he spoke of the “Iron Curtain” that had descended from “Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic,” Winston Churchill was acknowledging and announcing a truth which so many in the West were so unwilling to admit – the onset of the Cold War. So powerful was the phrase.
- capx.co – A re-divided Germany – Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer has been extremely critical of Chancellor Merkel’s approach to the refugee crisis. In a SPIEGEL interview, he talks about limiting migration, his relationship with Merkel and why he is upset with the German media. “I am just soberly describing reality. You can run away from reality for a time because it doesn’t fit into your political world view. But then the people will run away from us.”
- icds.ee/ – Baltic Area. Goal for Poland – The Baltic region is an important part of Polish foreign policy. Poland’s member ship in these organisations is the foundation of its security and economic growth. The last few years have seen a gradual strengthening of Poland’s role in European and Euro.