• What the EU’s New High Representative Should Know

    Posted by: Roderick Parkes July 31, 2014

    When the EU failed to appoint a new foreign affairs chief on July 16, the war of words between the EU’s Eastern and Southern member states sharpened. Easterners paint the South—foremost Italy—as venal and spineless for promoting a candidate (Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini) with a conciliatory attitude toward Moscow. Southerners portray the East—primarily Lithuania and Poland—as full of unreconstructed Cold Warriors intent on bringing geopolitics into the EU.

    Well, Southerners can speak for themselves, but Easterners certainly don’t fit that description—not least because they fear that European geopolitics is ending, not beginning. When the next high representative is finally selected on August 30, he or she should know that geopolitics is more important than ever.

    One of the mantras to have emerged from Brussels in the course of the Ukraine crisis is that the EU doesn’t do geopolitics. European officials are nervous about giving the impression that they somehow have territorial ambitions in the continent’s East. But for Easterners, that message is strange, to say the least. As far as they are concerned, the EU’s purpose is nothing if not geopolitical. It’s just that the EU does a different kind of geopolitics.

    If politics is the art of creating and exercising choice, then the EU is geopolitical in the true sense of the word: it offers its members a choice over their geography. Until 1989, disparities of national size, resources, and demography in Europe were still dealt with by an imperial, winner-takes-all approach and through zero-sum mutual balancing. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the EU propagated its own approach—a system of mutual transformation that Easterners have grasped with both hands.

    For them, the EU’s new foreign policy supremo has to be aware that this is what the EU is about. The bloc’s neighbors, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, are currently unable to build their resources, economy, and demography without exciting tensions with the countries around them. The EU, with its single market, European Parliament, and Schengen border-free travel area, represents a political method for transforming such points of conflict.

    Moreover, it is this offer of geopolitical choice that sets the EU apart from Russia. Without choice, Moscow can justifiably accuse the EU of unilaterally redrawing the map of Europe. That is basically what the EU is doing when it allows its neighbors to access the single market or the Schengen zone without giving them a chance to make the rules, or when the union offers states to its East a technocratic facsimile of peace and prosperity rather than a genuine shot at transformation.

    A similar principle applies to the EU’s relations with Russia. Despite impressions, Eastern Europeans are not resistant to a normalization of relations to Moscow; no one is more invested in the post-1989 order than they are. It’s just that this normalization has to be achieved politically. That means no backroom chats between Italian and Russian foreign ministers, and no initiatives like the South Stream gas pipeline that marginalize certain countries without diversifying the EU’s choices.

    There is also a more fundamental concern here. Any high representative who does not properly appreciate the EU’s geopolitical purpose does not understand how the EU works. And a foreign policy chief who cannot navigate the union’s tricky internal workings will hardly be able to leverage its political weight in the world. After all, the EU’s main purpose over the decades has been to transform relations between its three large members, Germany, France, and the UK.

    Other countries, tired of perpetual tension among these three, have traditionally given importance to the union’s assuasive endeavors. When national leaders talk about establishing “fairness” in the EU, they are really talking about France and Germany patching up their differences on economic affairs. “Efficiency” is about German-British compromise on treaty reform and institutions. And “effectiveness” is about France and the UK pooling their global resources to sustain and promote the EU in the world.

    As a series of dismal summits has shown, these bilateral relationships have all but broken down over the last year. The result is the return of history: it is increasingly common to hear that Germany’s domination of France is “inevitable” or that the UK cannot leave the EU because Britain “cannot change its geography.” In this context, Easterners are worried at the way the Italians have exploited tensions among the Big Three to score some quick political points.

    The prime role of the EU’s high representative in the coming years will probably be to overcome the union’s internal geopolitical tensions to ensure it has some kind of effect in the world. Whoever takes up the post should really know that.

     

    Roderick Parkes heads the EU Program at the Polish Institute of International Affairs.

     
     
     
  • Judy Asks: Has Europe Walked Away From the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Wednesday, July 30, 2014 1

    Every week, a selection of leading experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

     
     
  • Syria’s Military: Last Man Standing?

    Posted by: Florence Gaub Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    The Syrian army is plagued by defections, and yet it fights on. That is a testament to the way in which the military has adapted to the challenge of the country’s civil war.

     
     
  • Putin’s Crooked Mirror

    Posted by: Jarosław Kuisz, Karolina Wigura Monday, July 28, 2014 1

    Almost every key concept in European political discourse—fascism, nationalism, multiculturalism—has its equivalent in Russian propaganda. But the meanings are very different.

     
     
  • What Are You Reading?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Friday, July 25, 2014

    Time for Strategic Europe’s annual summer reading suggestions! Carnegie Europe has asked a cross section of diplomats, policymakers, and analysts to share their favorite books.

     
     
  • Judy Asks: Do Interests Trump Values in Europe?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Thursday, July 24, 2014 3

    Every week, a selection of leading experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

     
     
  • Europeans Shun Even Their Soft-Power Tools

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2

    Sanctions can be one of the EU’s most effective instruments of soft power. Yet EU governments are unwilling to make full use of this resource and put values before interests.

     
     
  • How the EU Can Raise Its Game in Foreign Policy

    Posted by: Bruno Maçães Tuesday, July 22, 2014 1

    The EU needs to strengthen its foreign policy by preserving, not eradicating, national differences, writes Portugal’s state secretary for Europe.

     
     
  • Europe’s Self-Imposed Blindness Toward Russia

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Monday, July 21, 2014 12

    When European foreign ministers meet on July 22 they might finally understand what the downing of MH17 means for their policy toward Russia.

     
     
  • The Tragedies of Ukraine and Gaza

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Friday, July 18, 2014 1

    Two catastrophic events—the shooting down of a passenger plane in eastern Ukraine and an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza—have left the West floundering.

     
     
  • What Are You Reading?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Friday, July 18, 2014

    Time for Strategic Europe’s annual summer reading suggestions! Carnegie Europe has asked a cross section of diplomats, policymakers, and analysts to share their favorite books.

     
     
  • Europe’s Weakness Over Russia

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Thursday, July 17, 2014 1

    European leaders should pull together and impose tougher sanctions on Russia. That would give important reforms in Ukraine a greater chance of succeeding.

     
     
  • Judy Asks: Should America Spy on Its Allies?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    Every week, a selection of leading experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

     
     
  • Three Treacherous Tales of Power in Europe

    Posted by: Jan Techau Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    From the selection of the EU’s new leadership team to Germany’s role in Europe, EU foreign policy offers a number of revealing cases of misperceived power.

     
     
  • European Leaders, Go to Gaza

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Monday, July 14, 2014 4

    The indifference shown by the West toward Israel’s air and ground offensive in Gaza is shocking. The EU could make a difference, if only it wanted to.

     
     
  • What Are You Reading?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Friday, July 11, 2014 1

    Time for Strategic Europe’s annual summer reading suggestions! Carnegie Europe has asked a cross section of diplomats, policymakers, and analysts to share their favorite books.

     
     
  • Spies and Europe’s Dependence on America

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Germany’s latest spying scandals should spur the EU to revitalize its declining science and technology sectors. The chances are that this opportunity won’t be seized.

     
     
  • Judy Asks: Is TTIP Dead in the Water?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Wednesday, July 09, 2014 6

    Every week, a selection of leading experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

     
     
  • The Silent Agenda for NATO’s Next Boss

    Posted by: Jan Techau Tuesday, July 08, 2014 6

    NATO’s incoming secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, will have many big issues on his to-do list. But some less obvious tasks deserve just as much attention—if not more.

     
     
  • Germany’s New Spying Scandal Fuels Anti-Americanism

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Monday, July 07, 2014

    Revelations that a German intelligence agent spied for the United States are a serious and dangerous setback for the transatlantic relationship. Russia must be delighted.

     
     

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