European Global Strategy: no such in sight, yet

Perjantaina, 31. toukokuuta 2013     1 kommentti(a)
Hanna Ojanen
vieraileva tutkija - Euroopan unioni -tutkimusohjelma

Four European think tanks, representing Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden, have been working on an ambitious project aimed at a "European global strategy” since July 2012. Their report, "Towards a European Global Strategy. Securing European Influence in a Changing World' came out this week.

It does not convince the reader that the EU should actually bother to write a new strategy.

The report has a distinct flavour of motherhood and apple pie in its way of listing what the EU should do in the world, starting from the treaty-based goal to promote peace and shared values and covering internal and external security, further liberalisation of trade and movement of people, continued enlargement, effective global governance and upgraded relations with the US, Russia and China. There are many truly interesting suggestions on knowledge-intensive economy, competitive educational and scientific systems, equality of opportunity, and educational and scientific cooperation with partners and regions.

The report notes that Europe is "straining to adapt to a rapidly changing world”. If the EU has problems in mere adapting, then its chances to influence the course of events can hardly be great. Apple pie, however timeless, may not be enough. Should not those doing strategic thinking for the EU perhaps step out of the form and be bolder in re-thinking the goals and the means? Leaving the apple pie aside for a while, two fundamental changes loom large and would deserve pondering. First, the internal unity of the EU may change into increasingly differentiated integration. The report does hint at differentiation on several occasions, for instance suggesting the possibility for groups of member states deepening cooperation with some neighbours. What increasing differentiation means for the EU as a whole is not addressed.

The second fundamental change concerns enlargement. In the report, enlargement is a strategic objective that the EU should persevere with. Indeed, enlargement may have been one of the hidden cornerstones of the process of European integration. It has been a permanent feature of the EC/EU, a driver of treaty change, a driver of policy formulation, and a driver of growth. As such, it would be great to continue believing in it and, indeed, persevere. But what if the era of enlargement is over? What if, as Mark Leonard put it last week at the EUISS in Paris, we risk intellectual entrapment continuing to believe in enlargement, failing to develop alternative strategies?

Turning to instruments, the main message of the report is that the coordinating role of the EEAS, particularly towards the Commission, should be strengthened. Important indeed, but looking forward to 2030, as the four think tanks were tasked to do, one could think of a profound re-organisation of European diplomacy rather than mere fine-tuning. The initial phase of the EEAS has been difficult, but the Service opens up the possibility to redefine the division of labour between the EU and member states, with the EEAS as a hub of a European diplomatic system and Europe Houses in third countries hosting both EU delegations and national diplomats. The system could entail interchangeability between the HR/VP and national foreign ministers in representing Europe, regular rotation of diplomats between the EEAS and MFAs, and innovative ways to involve non-state actors. As Europe's weight in the world continues to shrink, joining forces and reducing parallel structures becomes all the more important.

Kristi Raik & Hanna Ojanen

Kirjoitukset edustavat kirjoittajien henkilökohtaisia näkemyksiä.

Keskustelu (1 kommenttia)

3.6.2013, Adina David

The opinion given by Ms. Raik and Ms. Ojanen fails to be constructively critical as it does not provide any kind of answers or alternatives to the questions or failures they point to in their piece:
to point out just one example - their assertion that

"The report does hint at differentiation on several occasions, for instance suggesting the possibility for groups of member states deepening cooperation with some neighbours. What increasing differentiation means for the EU as a whole is not addressed."

This sentence should have been followed by some kind of answer, alternative or add-up.
Nor is there any alternative given to the issue of the enlargement. Nobody says the current state of things is perfect, but can you really envision a Europe which does not have some kind of a plan in relation to its neighbours?
When reading critically a text, it seems to me essential to try to also propose something instead of mere saying things are bad. If nothing else is put into place, things can only get worse...

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