2015 in the Rear-view Mirror …


Should 2015 be identified as the year of multilateralism? Despite the multitude of crises facing the West throughout 2015, the signature of three major multilateral agreements was not only meaningful, but will contribute to the shaping of world politics well beyond 2016.

2015, or the Year of Multilateralism

Could 2015 be seen as the year of multilateralism? Even if this question seems quite absurd considering the succession of negative news from terrorism, to economic slowdown, racism, populism, so on and so forth. But looking back, 2015 was to some extent the most promising year in recent years in getting regional and global leaders around the table and having them signed important documents. Three highly impactful agreements ought to be reviewed.

World-Climate-Summit-bannerFirst, the Paris Agreement of December 12, 2015 ought to be number one on the list. Yes, climate change is a reality. Yes environmental destruction is the greatest threat facing humanity. If polls, like the recent one produced by the Pew, show that Euro-Atlantic citizens feel that terrorism is the greatest threat to their security, they are certainly looking at it from a narrow angle. If ISIS has demonstrated to be effective at slaughtering unarmed civilians drinking coffee and listening to music, it does not represent the existential threat that climate change presents.

Source: Source: Carle, Jill. 2015. "Climate Change Seen as Top Global Threat Americans, Europeans, Middle Easterners Focus on ISIS as Greatest Danger." Pew Research Center. July 14. Online: http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2015/07/Pew-Research-Center-Global-Threats-Report-FINAL-July-14-2015.pdf [Accessed on September 15, 2015]
Source: Source: Carle, Jill. 2015. “Climate Change Seen as Top Global Threat Americans, Europeans, Middle Easterners Focus on ISIS as Greatest Danger.” Pew Research Center. July 14. Online: http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2015/07/Pew-Research-Center-Global-Threats-Report-FINAL-July-14-2015.pdf [Accessed on September 15, 2015]

The Paris Agreement (which will only come into force once signed by the Parties on April 22, 2016 and ratified by 55 Parties) is more a political victory than a great climate deal. The political victory comes as the developed and developing nations have finally been able to agree on a global agreement. For instance, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is unable to get its Doha Round anywhere and most of the global initiatives are going nowhere. But in Paris, world leaders were able to show unity for a cause. However, the document falls short as there are no enforcement mechanisms in place in order to penalize states that do not comply. The European Union wanted a binding treaty with serious teeth and got instead an Agreement pledging to limit GHG emissions in order to maintain global warming below the 1.5 degrees Celsius target and a 5-year review of national progress and target readjustments. More work needs to be done domestically in order to transform current models of production and ways of living, especially in the US, India, China and the EU, but it is a good starting point.

The second major success for multilateralism is the Nuclear deal with Iran. After almost a GTY_iran_world_leaders_ml_150402_16x9_992decade of negotiations initiated by the EU (remember the EU3+1?), the US under the leadership of its Secretary of State, John Kerry, was able to come to an agreement on the nuclear negotiations with Iran. If the US and European nations were quick on framing it as a political victory, such deal would not have been possible without China and Russia. Both nations were central in order to have Iran signed the deal.  If the Europeans were on the side of the Americans, it was quite uncertain throughout the process to count the Russians and Chinese in. But Russia has appeared as an important partner. For instance, on December 29, Iran shipped more than 11 tonnes of low-enriched uranium to Russia. But the deal came through and is, as the Paris Agreement, imperfect. At least, it permits to relaunch diplomatic relations with Tehran and re-includes Iran as a member of the international community. Some of the sanctions will be lifted, permitting Iran to sale its crude oil starting next year, in exchange for a discontinuation of the nuclear program.

The third major agreement is the signature of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Since the collapse of the financial markets in 2008, which have caused an economic decline of the US and its allies and seen the rise of China, the US has initiated two major trade agreements: one with its Pacific partners (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam), the TPP, and one with its European allies, the Transatlantic Trade and Investmenttpp eng Partnership (TTIP). If the negotiations with European partners on the TTIP are still ongoing (read here a book on the topic), a result for TPP was finally reached in October 2015. In a document released by the Office of US Trade Representative, it is argued that “The result is a high-standard, ambitious, comprehensive, and balanced agreement that will promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.” Regardless of the supports for such trade agreement, the TPP will have undeniably major impacts on regional and global economic and political relations. The US is solidifying its position in Asia and diplomacy is playing a big role in promoting cooperation. However, one question clearly remains: should have China been included in such deal?

Notable European Leaders in 2015

A paragraph could have been written on each of the 28 European leaders. But this piece focuses only on three EU leaders.

François Hollande, President of France, could very well be at the top of European leadership by the way he has maintained his position at the helm of France under such 98cebbe6a5319916285991f0e66baa545b8bf9bddegree of threats and instabilities. Economically, the French economy is not picking up. The French GDP growth is of 0.3% in the last quarter of 2015 with an unemployment rate of 10.6% illustrating a situation of stagnation and difficulties to draft and implement meaningful structural reforms. In addition, his approval rating in 2014 and early 2015 was around 13%, the lowest for all Presidents of the Fifth Republic. In the middle of these domestic turmoils and failed reforms, Paris was struck twice by terrorist attacks, once in January targeting Charlie Hebdo, and nine months later against civilians in a hipster arrondissement of the capital. Despite all these crises, François Hollande has been able to see an increase of his approval rating, avoid the take-over of regions by the Front National at the regional elections, and host one of the most welcomed global summits in Paris. 2015 was quite a year for François Hollande, whom has demonstrated serious skills of leadership against adversity. However, this is coming at a cost as he has taken a securitarian approach and is now passing laws, like the removal of citizenship, that are in complete opposition with the philosophical roots of his party (and arguably his own).

Angela Merkel, or the Emotional Leader of Europe. If François Hollande is shifting towards the right in order to make the homeland more secure undermining French

Generated by IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

republican values, Angela Merkel has managed to maintain Germany in a sound economic direction (even though German economy is showing some signs of weakness), while becoming the emotional leader of Europe. Germany’s friendly policy of welcoming refugees was in some degree one of the most positive policies of 2015 in Europe. If EU Member States were calling for the construction of walls, use of army and other aberrations (Denmark planning to confiscate refugees’ jewelry) in order to stop the flow of refugees, Germany instead welcomed them. Angela Merkel’s decision to go against her political allies and political foundation illustrates one of the most human moves in Europe (read a recent piece here published in the New York Times). Chancellor Merkel may very well paying the cost of her actions if Germany is the target of a terrorist attack later on and struggle in integrating all these refugees.

David Cameron – The British Prime Minister was reelected in late Spring 2016 on an ultra-David-Cameron-Europenationalist and anti-european platform. Since his reelection, he has now identified himself as the British leader fighting for Britain’s national interests and integrity against the European Union. The publication of his demands to Brussels initiating negotiations in light of a future referendum about the membership of the UK solely responded to a national agenda without any clear vision for Britain’s future. Cameron is another European head of government with no long-term vision for his country and the Union. He embodies the shift of the past rights moving to the extreme without a clear political philosophy. Cameron’s polices have proven to be more based on ideology than facts.

Voices from Brussels?

What about HR Mogherini, President Tusk, President Schulz, and President Juncker? The heads of the largest EU institutions – EEAS, Commission, Parliament, and European Council – have not been that vocal at the exception of President Juncker at the ‘beginning’ of the migration crisis. The European leadership was pretty quiet throughout the year (at the exception of Commissionner Vestager going after the largest global corporations one after the other). Eventually 2016 could be the year for Federica Mogherini, whom is scheduled to release the new European Security Strategy in mid-Spring (read here an analysis on the current strategic thinking). 2016 could be as well the year for Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, as Warsaw will be hosting the 2016 NATO Summit. Such meeting in Poland will be important for two reasons: first, promote European principles and values in a country moving away from Europe’s ideals; second, it should address the ongoing regional crises from Ukraine, to Syria, to Iraq, Afghanistan and think seriously on how to engage with President Putin.

(Copyright 2016 by Politipond. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission).

A New European Leadership – When the East Meets the West

Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA
Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

After months of negotiations, the EU top jobs were finally filled during an EU summit in Brussels on August 30th. The Presidency of the European Council goes to Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, for a 2.5 years mandate renewable once; while the EU diplomatic chief, High Representative/Vice President (HRVP) goes to the Italian Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini, for a mandate of 5 years, renewable once (see here their official CVs). The appointment of Polish and Italian politicians permits to maintain an East-West European balance at the helm of the EU. As argued by Janusz Reiter, “Poland has arrived in the West.” In addition to the appointments, the summit covered the following issues: furthering Russian sanctions, the conflict in Ukraine and the situation in Iraq due to ISIS.

This double appointment sends a clear signal, European leaders have heard the message of the May elections and are giving high-level/visible job to pro-European Member

Credit: Reuters
Credit: Reuters

States. Poland has been since its inclusion inside the Union in 2004 the best student of the group of the 10 new members in 2004. The post of President of the European Council demonstrates the commitment by Western EU Member States of finally including the Eastern arm of the Union. Additionally, with the current tension between Russia and Ukraine, some Eastern EU Member States have felt under-protected by either the Union or NATO. Tusk’s appointment is demonstrating such commitment. Charles Grant of the CER argues that Tusk’s appointment is a clear “signal” to Moscow. The role of the President of the European Council may not have direct decision-making power, but it has nevertheless a clear global visibility and serious power in assisting Member States reaching consensus and compromise on important issues. Donald Tusk has demonstrated to be a successful politician in Poland by being prime minister for two terms as well as “his ability to build consensus [and] open to compromise.” According to the Treaty of Lisbon (article 15(6)), the role of the President is as follow:

The President of the European Council: 
(a) shall chair it and drive forward its work;
(b) shall ensure the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council in cooperation with the President of the Commission, and on the basis of the work of the General Affairs Council;
(c) shall endeavour to facilitate cohesion and consensus within the European Council;
(d) shall present a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the European Council.
The President of the European Council shall, at his level and in that capacity, ensure the external representation of the Union on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy, without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The President of the European Council shall not hold a national office.

In terms of the diplomatic leadership, Federica Mogherini is facing a dual challenges: she has been criticized for her lack of experience and credential in the field, and is perceived

Credit: European Commission
Credit: European Commission

to soft/favorable towards Russia (read here and here a good coverage of Federica Mogherini). For instance, Lithuanian President, Dalia Grybauskaite, abstained to vote in favor of Mogherini in order to express her criticism of Mogherini biases toward Russia. Since her appointment, Mogherini has advanced tougher narratives vis-a-vis Moscow. On the question of her young age, 41 years old, she responded “There is a new generation of European leaders and we need to respond to and represent all of Europe” (I could not agree more with her argument). Thus, Mogherini is part of the new wave of Italian politicians led by the even younger Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of 39 years of age. Le Monde, one of the leading French newspaper, wrote a tough piece regarding the reasons behind Mogherini’s appointment: first, because powerful EU Member States want to maintain their diplomacy without being overshadowed by a powerful diplomatic leader; second, because Tusk is from Poland; third, she is a woman and quotas matter in Europe; fourth, she is a social-democrat; last, to please Matteo Renzi. But time will tell about reason 1 as she has brought back Italy to the center of European foreign policy. With only being Italian foreign minister for 6 months, “her appointment may say more about big countries’ determination” writes Charlemagne of the Economist “to retain control over crunchy foreign-policy issues than it does about any supposed European spinelessness.”

Sadly, it seems that for European leaders the appointments of the two high level EU jobs is an end by itself. The negotiation process has been so difficult and tumultuous that it may appear as such. If Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, leaves the job with the upper-hand considering the quality of his job, the same cannot be said about his counterpart, Lady Catherine Ashton (see here one of the best academic articles on the topic by Jolyon Howorth). Donald Tusk takes over a healthy and credible European Council, while Federica Mogherini assumes the leadership over a shaky and weak EEAS. The Big Three – Berlin, London and Paris – have done a great job during the Ashton’s mandate of undermining the EEAS in order to maintain the prestige and influence of their respective foreign ministries. From these three EU Member States’ point of view, as well as some others EU Member States, the EEAS has always been perceived as a direct threat and competitor to national foreign policies and interests. The current debate in Britain about Brussels’ power over national decision-making and independence is directly linked to the EEAS (even though most European citizens may not even know about the existence of such institution). Mogherini certainly knows it and will have to balance the reality of the game and promote European’s interests.

Both newly appointed leaders are facing pressing and challenging issues awaiting them (aside from learning English in the case of Donald Tusk):

  • building a common position regarding Russia (which is currently happening among the 28) and a common voice in shaping EU’s actions and reactions towards Moscow’s conduct in Ukraine. Tusk and Mogherini have already expressed a tougher voice against Moscow. For instance, Mogherini said during a meeting before the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee, in her capacities of Italian foreign minister, that “I think Russia stays a strategic player in the regional and global challenges, [regardless if] we like it or not, but I don’t think it’s a strategic partner anymore.” Until she takes on her functions in November as the next High Representative/Vice President, Mogherini will have to balance out the Italian with the European interests.
  • the economic context of the EU is still weak with an anemic French economy, a slower German economy, and the decline of some other Eurozone economies. Mogherini will have to deal with the impacts of the economic crisis on EU Member States’ limited commitment towards EU foreign affairs, while Tusk (politician of a non-eurozone member, which could create tensions during Eurozone meeting) will have to continue fostering the debate on the required reforms. But in any case, “his pro-EU convictions, with the pro-integration Juncker by his side in the commission,” writes Andrew Rettman “bode well for EU economic reforms.” Despite not being a Eurozone member, Poland has been one of the few EU Member States to have seen an economic growth since the beginning of the financial crisis.
  • the Ukrainian crisis is a complex one and the EU has to continue to shape a clear approach on assisting Kiev. Certainly, a Eastern European leader will contribute to bring a new dimension into the European foreign policy making. The recent Russian attacks against Ukraine are a clear violation of Ukrainian national sovereignty and are causing a headache to EU leaders.
  • the crises in Syria and Iraq are of clear importance to the security of the Union and its Member States. Some Member States, like Germany, France, Britain and Italy, are already providing weapons to opponents of ISIS, namely the Kurds of Northern Iraq, but the EU has yet to agree on a common strategy on dealing with the crisis in Syria and Iraq;
  • last but not least, Tusk will have to maintain collegial relationship among the 28 EU leaders. The current wave of euroskepticism reflected during the May elections added to the independentist desires of Scotland, Catalonia and other European regions, plus the looming British referendum of the future of Britain’s EU membership will necessitate a savvy politician to deal with these internal tensions. Good thing that Tusk is described as “quiet, pragmatic, tenacious.”

A new leadership at the helm of the EU, with Schulz, Juncker, Mogherini and Tusk, may be the missing link in order to rejuvenate the European endeavor in search of a new identity and purpose.

(Copyright 2014 by Politipond. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission).

The Promise of a more Political, Social and Human Europe

European Parliament 2014
European Parliament 2014

Jean-Claude Juncker has been approved as the next President of the Commission by the European Parliament (EP) during a meeting in Strasbourg on July 15th, 2014. The new rules, since the Treaty of Lisbon, entail that the President of the Commission must be elected by absolute majority by the EP, meaning at least 376 of the 751 total votes. Juncker received 422 votes in favor, 250 against and 47 abstentions, which represents 56% of the vote (note that only 729 MEPs were in Strasbourg for the vote).

The election of Juncker does not come at a surprise considering the new institutional design implemented by the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon. Following the European elections in May 2014, the leading party, in this case the center-right Europe People’s Party (EPP), won the most seats at the EP (see the results here). For such reason, Juncker became the leading candidate for the Commission’s top job. He was then approved by European leaders during the Council meeting in late June 2014. The vote at the EP marks the end of the appointment process of the Mr. Juncker as the new President of Commission. Following the vote, the Euroskeptics, and especially the MEPs from the French extreme-right wing party, le Front National, expressed their opinion comparing such elections as a mascarade and a direct threat to national sovereignty. Such opinion could not be further from the truth; as argued by Juncker in his speech, “For the first time, a direct link has thereby been established between the outcome of the European Parliament elections and the proposal of the President of the European Commission” (p. 2).

A more social Europe

Prior to the vote, Mr. Juncker delivered a speech before the EP in French and German. The linguistic choice is already marking a split with his predecessor principally using English (yes, languages still matter in Europe especially for the French). In his speech, entitled A new start for Europe: My agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change, Mr. Juncker laid out his ‘political guidelines’ for his next Commission. In short, he promises a more social Europe.

In his introduction, Mr. Juncker explains his vision of his job for the next five years:

As candidate for President of the European Commission, I see it as my key task to rebuild bridges in Europe after the crisis. To restore European citizens’ confidence. To focus our policies on the key challenges ahead for our economies and for our societies. And to strengthen democratic legitimacy on the basis of the Community method.

In sum, Juncker wants to establish himself as the transition from a Europe in crisis to a reforming and growing Europe. Could it be that the EU finally stop seeking solutions in perpetual institutional make-up, and now focuses on launching meaningful policies? His agenda for his quinquennum is based around 10 policy areas listed below:

  1. boosting employment, growth and investment
  2. creating of a digital single market
  3. establishing a European Energy Union aligned with environmental standards
  4. stronger industrial base to boost the internal market (related to the four freedoms of the common market: goods, services, capital and people)
  5. adjusting the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) through greater convergence of national economic, fiscal and labor policies
  6. concluding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
  7. promoting fundamental rights and rule of law
  8. developing a new EU policy in migration (common asylum policy, policy on legal migration and irregular migration, securing the borders)
  9. continuing the fostering of the EU as a global actor (more effective EU foreign policy; greater cooperation with the HR/VP; deepening the defense market at the EU level; and digestion of the 13 recent EU Member States). Juncker underscores, even put the sentence in his speech in bold, that no further enlargement would take place in the next five years (the Balkans and Ukraine will have to wait)
  10. promoting and developing a more democratic Europe with greater transparency and communication

This speech seems aligned with national demands – from European citizens -. An important problem that Barroso may not have handled well enough was the low level of the communication and understanding between European citizens and Brussels. Juncker’s agenda is broad, but yet focused, and tackles a lot issues important to the European citizens such as legal and illegal migrations, TTIP, GMOs, energy, environmental policy and so on. Now, his task will be to convey the message to Europeans.

What’s next?

The overall process for the appointment of the new Commission is composed of several steps: first, the European elections; second the appointment of the new President of the Commission; third, the selection and appointment of the new Commission and other EU’s top jobs. The transfer of power from Barroso to Juncker is scheduled for November 2014. The rest of the Commission, meaning the Commissioners (read here the possible nominees for the different seats at the Commission), has yet to be approved by the European Parliament after the summer.

But the hiring process seems much more difficult than expected. For instance, European leaders were supposed to have selected the new EU foreign policy chief – legally called High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission (read here an analysis on the position) – and the President of the European Council, but have failed to do so. The political fight, or bargaining process, over the appointments of top EU’s jobs has been difficult. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was quoted saying during the negotiations, “it can very well be that it’s just a first discussion and no decision yet. I am rather sceptical we can agree today.” The meeting ended after midnight with no decisions on the next EU diplomatic chief and President of the European Council. EU leaders are scheduled to meet again on August 30th. The time lapse may indicate the difficulty of the negotiation and lack of agreement on the these two top positions as well as some of the candidates for positions in the Juncker Commission.

(Copyright 2014 by Politipond. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission).

New People, New Directions for the EU

Credit: AP
Credit: AP

On June 26th and 27th, EU Heads of State or Government met in Ypres in order to commemorate the First World war, appoint the new President of the Commission and identify the strategic agenda – new directions and priorities – for the Union. This European Council’s meeting mattered for one simple reason: the fight about the future direction of the Union towards either a more federalist road, or towards some sorts of status-quo maintaining the current stagnation of the Union.

Juncker, Towards a Federalism?

The appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker, a centre-right Christian Democrat and former Prime Minister of Luxembourg and a European federalist, was seen as a signal for a motion towards further integration. Additionally, his appointment reflects the political inclination of Europe in accordance with the newly elected European Parliament. The party winning the elections in May was Europe People’s Party (EPP), the right wing party. “The Parliament, and the political groups, have made the most of the treaty language stating that parliamentary election results must be taken into account” writes Benjamin Fox of EUObserver, “when EU leaders nominate a person to replace Jose Manuel Barroso.” Such practice is known as spitzenkandidaten, or lead candidates.  So EU leaders could difficulty go against popular wills. Not only Europeans do not see the European Parliament or these European elections as vital, but if European leaders were to already bend the law, one could imagine a widening of the democratic deficit and fueling the euroskeptic argument of extreme parties flourishing throughout Europe.

The appointment of Juncker was preceded by a political fight at the European level between the United Kingdom and Germany. One should underscore that France has progressively shied away from this political fraught. In the UK, Prime Minister Cameron has based/gambled most of his mandate on fighting the EU in the name of British national interest. His argument is that the integration of the EU and the expansion of its powers are not working in favor of British interests. He has, like all his elected leaders, sought to increase its political base by seeking the extreme side of his party. Cameron has since the beginning of his mandate threatened the EU by waving the card of a possible referendum on the future of the Britain’s EU membership (first, Cameron must be reelected in 2015, and the referendum could take place in 2017). Since the EP elections, Prime Minister Cameron has fought, a little bit like Don Quixote, the inevitable appointment of Juncker. Even the Economist consents by arguing that Cameron fought the right battle – spitzenkandidaten system -, but with the wrong tactics. Cameron’ strategy was purely political in order to demonstrate to his British fellows how much he has been fighting for Britain’s interests.

Photographer: Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty Images
Photographer: Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty Images

Cameron’s gamble has not paid off, but has contributed to widening the gap among EU Member States. With his narrow vision, Cameron has forced on a vote by qualified majority voting for the President of the Commission that he lost 26-2. Such vote requested by Cameron was unprecedented. The appointment followed the results of the European elections of May 2014. He threatened his European counterparts that the appointment of Juncker would contribute to pushing Britain further towards the exit of the Union.

The appointment of Juncker at the helm of the Commission is certainly positive in two aspects (one can read here the article titled The accidental president of Charlemagne in the Economist. This op-ed offers a completely different argument that the one advanced in this present commentary). First, after 10 years of a Barroso Commission, the EU needed a new leader. Barroso leaves Brussels with a very mixed, mostly negative, tenure. Second, for all pro-Europeans, Juncker seems a good appointment considering his experience, but most importantly his passion and understanding for the Union’s project.

However, the appointment of Juncker is fueling the debate about the future of the Union. His pro-European view, in favor of European federalism (even though we are very far from the creation of United States of Europe), is scaring many EU Member States aligned with the UK. The UK has been fighting for a return of powers from Brussels to the capitals. The current debate is directly embedded in the following directions: either, a deepening of the Union towards federalism; or, a stagnation of the deepening process with some sort of institutional status-quo. The Lisbon Treaty offers some instruments to move the deepening process, but Member States have since been effective in limiting it through the institutional maze.

The Strategic Agenda

Aside from the political appointment, EU Heads of State or Government identified five strategic dimensions for the future of the Union. The report is titled Strategic Age for the Union in Times of Change:

  1. stronger economies with more jobs, meaning boosting growth, competitiveness, and employment through lowering taxes, signing the TTIP in 2015, solidifying the EMU and the common market.
  2. societies enabled to empower and protect all citizens, through the reinforcement of the welfare state.
  3. a secure energy and climate future, by balancing out clean and cheap energy in order to secure energy consumption in Europe, while fighting against global warming.
  4. a trusted area of fundamental freedoms, securing the homeland from external and illegal migration, while preventing homeland crimes and terrorism through greater judiciary cooperation.
  5. effective joint action in the world, defending the interests and values of European citizens in the neighborhoods and beyond; engaging strategic partners, reinforcing bilateral and multilateral fora as well as continuing the deepening process of the CSDP.

Ultimately, these five strategic dimensions are not surprising and are very Union-like. They all encompass the weaknesses of the Union and the Member States’ willingness to cooperate on these matters. The interesting point is about the EU’s global role through the Common Security and Defense Policy. The conclusions express that the EU will increase its role and influence in the world “by strengthening the Common Security and Defence Policy, in full complementarity with NATO.” Does that mean that the EU and its Member States are dropping the idea of keeping the CSDP as a sole European project? Is the CSDP destine at some point to be merged inside NATO?  

What is next?

Prior the European Council’s meeting five high level EU positions were up for grab: the President of the Commission, now filled by Juncker; the President of the Eurogroup, the powerful group of finance ministers of the Eurozone; the President of the European Parliament, filled once again by Martin Schulz reelected on the first round, getting 409 of the 621 today (July 1st); the President of the European Council; and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs/Vice-President of the Commission. Now that the Commission is in the hands of Juncker, Member States are now fighting over the distribution of the important Directorate Generals inside the Commission and the other very important posts, which will be decided during the next European Council’s meeting on July 16th. It appears that the EU’s Socialist and Social Democrats are now seeking for the next two big job: President of the Council and the HR. The Financial Times argues that European socialists want to secure the next two jobs in order to balance Juncker.

So far, the biggest speculations have been around the appointment of the next HR (read here the humorous and excellent Josef Janning’s job description for the next HR). According to the press, Federica Mogherini – Italy’s foreign minister -, the Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermansmay, or even Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, may be the leading candidates for the job. In any case, the political game of thrones will continue to be played in between soccer games until the 16th of July.

(Copyright 2014 by Politipond. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)