EU 2030 & NATO 2020: change we can believe in?

Perjantaina, 28. toukokuuta 2010     0 kommentti(a)
Kaisa Korhonen
tutkija - Euroopan unioni -tutkimusohjelma
May 2010 was devoted to crystal ball gazing in international affairs. Both the Reflection Group on the Future of EU in 2030 and the Group of Experts on a New Strategic Concept for NATO submitted their final reports. In terms of (in)security, both groups predict turbulent decades ahead. As a new world order emerges, only urgent changes in the strategic thinking of EU and NATO can prevent the two organizations from being pushed into the shadows of global politics.

Stop for a moment to think about the world where EU and NATO have played out their roles. The high level expert groups of Project Europe 2030 and NATO 2020 did imagine this future: a mind game that resulted in a pile of recommendations to keep the two vigorous security actors of the (post-)Cold War era at the centre of an emerging multi-polar regime. The remedies of the two groups had unsurprisingly much in common taking into account that 21 of 28 NATO member states are also EU member states. By and large, they both called for further change in terms of streamlined policy-making and above all, underlined the need for more sophisticated strategies during the upcoming decades.

What makes these reports interesting is not so much the analysis of novel challenges faced by EU and NATO, since the wide-spread perception of new security threats is the driving force behind the current efforts to strengthen the EU as a global actor. It is rather the realistic understanding of one’s future place in the world: resources that both in relative and absolute terms can be used to influence global affairs are diminishing and strategic decisions need to be made in relation to how these assets are to be used.

In order to provide a framework for rigorous decision-making linked with NATO’s new strategic concept or ‘a common European strategic concept’ that the Project Europe reflection group urgently recommends the EU to adopt, further administrative reform is once again on the agenda. It is suggested that in the EU context, the reforms of the Lisbon Treaty are taken few steps further, while a more streamlined structure and unified command are seen as prerequisites for NATO’s internal cohesion.

A clear division of labour within the organizations themselves is hence identified as a precondition for new strategic thinking, but another problem remains: the different strategic outlooks between EU and NATO member states. It is no longer enough to gain internal coherence per se, but coherence between the two organizations is seen as necessary in this era characterized by an over supply of new threats and excessive demand for new instruments to address these threats. Indeed, smarter spending is not anymore an internal issue of the Alliance/Union. It calls for inter-organizational synergies that the NATO group in the name of cost-effectiveness labels as ‘a truly comprehensive partnership with the EU’.

Much remains blocking such a partnership that would end all duplication of efforts – not least the Cyprus issue. That said, can we believe in these changes and a reassuring future for the old continent? Perhaps if ‘Europe’, which after all plays a key role in defining the future of both organizations, gets its act together and becomes successful in its search for strong political leadership. The sober analysis of future influence of emerging powers and the self-knowledge embodied in the rather realistic goal-setting that these reports present certainly point to a better direction.

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