1. Shaping Europe’s Present and Future
BSSB.BE ecfr.eu 14/01/2019
* A decade of economic and political crises plus the project of European integration imakes f existential challenges.
As the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini has overseen EU foreign and security policy since November 2014. With her term coming to an end in 2019, Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations asked Mogherini about the state of European security, the future of the international order, arms control, migration, and a broad range of other issues.
Mark Leonard: So far, the European Union has demonstrated an ability to maintain its unity over key issues like Brexit and the maintenance of the post-Crimea sanctions on Russia. Is this unity likely to hold in 2019, particularly given the looming EU parliamentary elections and changes at the top of the European Commission and Council?
Federica Mogherini: The unity of our Union is much stronger than often perceived. What I see in my daily work is an EU that makes decisions jointly, implements them together, and – especially in the field of foreign and security policy – acts as one. Many complain about the lack of unity. But my impression is that these complaints derive more from a comfortable cliché that is repeated on the basis of past experiences, rather than from a realistic reflection on the situation today.
Obviously, we need to define what we mean by “unity.” It doesn’t mean uniformity. We number 28 – soon 27, which is still a lot. With 500 million people, the EU is the largest integration project ever realized.
The EU is the biggest market in the world, and the second-largest economy. It comprises many different cultures, languages, and politics. History and geography have given us different backgrounds. It is only natural that this translates into different views, opinions, voices – even within each of our democratic societies.
I have always refused to use the expression “the European Union must sing with one voice.” We need to use all the different voices we have, because our plurality is our point of strength. But we need to sing the same song, in a coordinated manner, like a choir. And in my daily work, I see unity of purpose, common decisions, and coordinated action happening. I don’t see this trend being challenged.
I believe a lot of people have lost trust in the institutions – all of them. But in most European countries, the EU is more trusted than national institutions.
On the Brexit negotiations, the remaining 27 member states are more united than ever; and the decisions on sanctions with respect to Crimea have been taken, implemented, and renewed unanimously all these years. There are many other examples. Because we share the same interests as Europeans, I believe our citizens realize that – beyond slogans – the only effective way to achieve our objectives is to work together.
ML: You have called for Europe to defend its sovereignty by, for example, creating new structures that would allow it to continue to adhere to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. Will these structures actually work, and could the special-purpose vehicle to maintain trade with Iran be used to counter other US sanctions?
FM: We are working, as a Union of 28 member states and with the rest of the international community, to preserve a nuclear agreement that has so far been implemented in full, as certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 13 consecutive reports. We do this because of our collective security: we do not want to see Iran developing a nuclear weapon, and the JCPOA is delivering precisely on that purpose. I start by saying this because I often hear that, on this issue, Europe is motivated mainly by economic or trade considerations. That is not the case: we do this to prevent a nuclear non-proliferation agreement that is working from being dismantled, and to prevent a major security crisis in the Middle East.
Part of this work requires us to guarantee that firms wanting to do legitimate business with Iran are allowed to do so. This is what we are working on right now: tools that will assist, protect, and reassure economic actors pursuing legitimate business with Iran. It is true that this situation has triggered a conversation on European economic sovereignty.
We Europeans cannot accept that a foreign power – even our closest friend and ally – makes decisions over our legitimate trade with another country. This is a basic element of sovereignty, and it is only natural that this reflection takes place, not only in Europe but in other parts of the world, too.
ML: The US decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) is a clear sign that US-Russia relations are as strained as at any time in three decades. So far, Europe has been unable to take decisive steps to defend the global disarmament order. What can the EU do to maintain nuclear stability in Europe, and to avoid the resumption of a missile race on the continent?
FM: The INF contributed to the end of the Cold War – and no one in Europe wants to go back to those dark days. Europe was the battlefield of superpowers, and we all lived under the constant threat of a nuclear war. Preventing a new arms race is in our collective interest.
That is why we have asked the United States to consider the consequences its possible withdrawal from the INF will have on its own security, and on our collective security. And, we expect the Russian Federation to address serious concerns regarding its compliance with the INF.
The current disarmament and non-proliferation architecture needs to become more universal, as a guarantee for all.
We Europeans are working at all levels to promote the universalization of existing agreements, such as the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. The starting point cannot be to dismantle the current architecture and start from scratch. That is a risk that nobody can afford. Non-proliferation is a field where it is essential to exercise collective responsibility, as the stakes are too high for all.
ML: Five years after the invasion of Crimea and the outbreak of fighting in eastern Ukraine, peace in that country seems as far away as ever. What, if anything, can Europe do to dampen the prospects of renewed violence, and will the EU remain united in its position toward Russia, particularly concerning sanctions?
FM: Peace in eastern Ukraine is something that the EU continues to work for every day. The sanctions are part of a broader framework. We have mobilized the biggest-ever assistance package from the EU to any country – almost €14 billion ($16 billion) since 2014.
This also includes specific support to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission, and an EU Advisory Mission that is working on civilian security-sector reform.
We are focusing, in particular, on local governance and local development in the east of the country. And we are following discussions at the United Nations on a possible UN peacekeeping mission, although there hasn’t been much progress on that in recent months.
I expect the economic sanctions to remain in place, because the reasons for imposing them – to advance the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity – still stand.
ML: Can more be done to deter Russia from interfering in European elections?
FM: There are a number of actions we are taking to guard against the challenge of external interference, no matter where it may come from: building up our cybersecurity capacities; improving the protection of personal data; guaranteeing the transparency of online political advertising; and improving cooperation among EU member states, and with our global partners.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: ecfr.eu/