Once upon a time, the EU was a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

 

europee-crisis_0

Three years ago I wrote a piece beginning by: “It all started in the aftermath of World War II and in the emotional and material rumbles of Europe. The visionary great men of Europe — Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman and Konrad Adenauer —understood that peace in Europe would only be possible through deep economic integration, strengthening an irreversible degree of cooperation between Western European powers.” This was in mid-October of 2012, when the Norwegian Nobel Committee gave the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union (EU). The rationale behind the prize was that the EU was a process permitting to make war unthinkable and allow for economic growth. This was a proud moment for Europeans, even though most of them did not pay much attention, and for Europeanists.

Radicalization of Domestic Politics

Today it is with real sadness to realize that in less than three years the survival of the EU appears in direct jeopardy and on the brink of implosion. Domestically, nationalism is ramping through either the rise of extreme-right wing parties, like the Front National in France, UKIP in Britain, Golden Dawn in Greece, or more recently through the

Image: AFP/Getty Image
Image: AFP/Getty Image

reemergence of extreme leftist parties like Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, and the newly elected Jeremy Corbyn in Britain. In addition, the narratives and actions demonstrated by the Obrán government in Hungary talking of a Christian Europe is affecting the overall normative message of EU (read a previous analysis here). These movements demonstrate a radicalization of the political debate directly informed by a highly emotional and confused electorate witnessing a continuous and unstoppable decline of their socio-economic condition.

Directly related to the rise of European nationalism is the financial crisis, which has spilled over to the Eurozone. The euro crisis has left the 17 Eurozone economies, at the exception of Germany, into a state of economic lethargy. In the case of Greece, the country has been on the brink of default for years and its future does not look promising based on the reports produced by the International Monetary Fund, a member of the Troika. In the case of France, still an economic pillar of the Eurozone, the succession from right to left has demonstrated the inabilities of traditional political parties to build confidence, implement meaningful structural reform, and lower inequalities. Part of the problem is the divide between a common currency and national fiscal policies.

Regional Inefficiencies

Regionally, the lingering war in Ukraine is a direct illustration that war on the European continent continues to live on. A last minute cancelation by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych of a bilateral agreement between Ukraine and the EU in November 2013 sent off Ukraine into one of its darkest periods. Two years later, Ukraine lost a piece of its territory, Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in spring 2014 after a quickly organized referendum (read here an analysis on Russian influence over Europe). Since the annexation of Crimea, not only as Ukraine lost the peninsula, which is never mentioned by

Photo: Kremlin.ru [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Kremlin.ru [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

the 28 EU Member States, but the war in the Eastern border of Ukraine has severely affected the political, economic and stability of Ukraine. The only instrument implemented by the EU, which has been very successful, is a series of sanctions against Russia. But unity among the 28 on keeping and deepening the sanctions is slowly disappearing in favor of national gains.

The second serious regional crisis is the current migration crisis. After the 2007 Arab Spring, many in the West and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) were hopeful for a democratic transition of many countries under long-term dictatorships like in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Libya. The time of euphoria quickly turned sour for Arabs and Westerners, witnessing either the reemergence of authoritarian regimes (Egypt), their survival (Syria) or simply collapse of the state (Libya). Since then, the EU, which has not done enough with its American counterparts in assisting in the transition of these states, is seeing an unprecedented number of refugees fleeing their homes, which have become war zones like in Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia and so forth. The mass of refugees seeking for asylum in the richest EU countries is not new, but the current mass of refugees is unprecedented and is underlining the weaknesses of the EU (institutional) and dismantling European solidarity.

A Crisis for Ages – The Migration Nightmare

If the Eurozone crisis, or at least a Greek default, were framed as the event that could kill the Euro and ultimately the Union as whole, these were the good old days. The migration crisis is directly threatening the future of the Union. If Germany and Sweden have been the good Samaritans in welcoming refugees (in 2015, it is estimated that Germany could welcome between 800,000 and 1,000,000 asylum seekers), Chancellor Merkel with her Minister of Interior, Thomas de Maizière, have reinstalled border control at the frontier with Austria. This move by Germany has started a snowball effects with other EU Member States implementing similar measures. The closing of borders to control the movement of people is a direct violation of the Treaties. The border-free Schengen agreement is one of the most successful and visible symbols of the European Union. It is too some extent a sacrosanct dimension of the EU.

European Integration in Danger?

The European integration process is a complex story of crises and adequate responses through policy changes and bargaining power. The period of the empty chair, the end of european_crisisthe Cold War and the reunification of Germany, the war in Kosovo, the divide between old and new Europe around the Iraq crisis, the no to the 2007 Constitutional Treaty and the Eurozone crisis have all been serious crises, but yet manageable for the European leaders. It appeared that European actors understood the need to solidify the Union and put aside differences in order to solve a crisis. The migration crisis is showing the worst of Europeans and their leaders, and European solidarity remains to be seen. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Commission, called for courage in remaining altogether and implementing meaningful measures like quotas. With a weakening Euro, as the Eurozone crisis has yet to be solved, the Schengen agreement under attack, a possible Brexit in 2016/17, the EU appears to move towards an ‘ever-lesser Europe.’ Yes, once upon a time, the EU was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

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

 

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Providing Leadership – Juncker’s Call for ‘Collective Courage’

Photo: Euranet Plus/Flickr
Photo: Euranet Plus/Flickr

The current context in Europe over the migration crisis is not going to stop any time soon (for more contextual and analytical information read previous pieces published by Politipond, here, here, here, here, and take a short survey here). If migrants are not dying at sea, national authorities like the ones in Macedonia, are using force against migrants seeking to cross the country to access Western European countries (see here several pictures showing the situation in Macedonia). The situation is clearly worsening on daily basis.

The French President and his German counterpart are meeting today in order to discuss the migration crisis and the situation in Ukraine. Germany has been the EU Member States, with Sweden, taking the largest share of refugees, but it cannot do it alone any longer. According to the Financial Times, Germany is expected to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year, which is more than what the entire EU welcomed in 2014. Based on Frontex’s data, in the first eight months of 2015, 340,000 migrants have crossed EU borders, which is already 60,000 more that the overall number for 2014.

If the EU Member States are working, or not, on solving the migration crisis by either welcoming migrants (Germany and Sweden) or trying to chase them away (Hungary and the

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

United Kingdom), the European Union has contributed to solving the issue, but without a clear leadership and strategy. For instance, Frontex has seen its role quickly increasing with more funding of its two naval missions in Italy and Greece, Europol has worked more on assisting national authorities, the EEAS has provided a platform in order to coordinate, and the Commission has been the voice of the EU and brought up some projects. For instance, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the Commission, brought in June and July some proposals on quotas, redistributions, reform of asylum policy and so forth. His recent op-ed in NewEurope, posted below, offers the leadership that is missing and is highly needed at the European level.

Naturally, EU Member States are working on protecting their interests and national borders, the EU is a central actor in recalling that migratory flux go beyond national borders and the current crisis can only be solved through European cooperation, coordination and solidarity. In short, President Junker is calling for “Collective Courage.” The word courage is more powerful than solidarity for two reasons: first, despite many calls, solidarity has not brought Europeans together; second, courage implies that each European head of state and government (and even each European citizen) will have to make the ‘right’ decision and go against short-termist nationalist rhetorics. This position by Juncker to work on a common European solution reflects in many ways to his original call, once appointed last summer, for a more human and social Europe (read here an analysis soon after his appointment last summer).

Juncker’s op-ed, which should be understood as a call for action, comes at a crucial time and should be read in one piece without further comments. For such reason, Politipond copied it in its entirety below (or it can be read on NewEurope’s website here):

The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, writes on the challenge of the migration issue. By Jean-Claude Juncker

Europe for me is and always has been a community of values. This is something we should be and yet are too seldom proud of. We have the highest asylum standards in the world. We will never turn people away when they come to us in need of protection. These principles are inscribed in our laws and our Treaties but I am worried that they are increasingly absent from our hearts.

When we talk about migration we are talking about people. People like you or I, except they are not like you or I because they did not have the good fortune to be born in one of the richest and most stable regions of the world. We are talking about people who have had to flee from war in Syria, the ISIS terror in Libya and dictatorship in Eritrea.

And what worries me is to see the resentment, the rejection, the fear directed against these people by some parts of the population. Setting fire to refugee camps, pushing back boats from piers, physical violence inflicted upon asylum seekers or turning a blind eye to poor and helpless people: that is not Europe.

What worries me is to hear politicians from left to right nourishing a populism that brings only anger and not solutions. Hate speech and rash statements that threaten one of our very greatest achievements – the Schengen area and the absence of internal borders: that is not Europe.

Europe is the pensioners in Calais who play music and charge the phones of migrants wanting to call home. Europe is the students in Siegen who open up their campus to accommodate asylum seekers who have no roof over their head. Europe is the baker in Kos who gives away his bread to hungry and weary souls. This is the Europe I want to live in.

Of course, there is no simple, nor single, answer to the challenges posed by migration. And it is no more realistic to think that we could simply open our borders to all our neighbours anymore than it is to think we just cordon ourselves off all distress, fear and misery. But what is clear is that there are no national solutions. No EU Member State can effectively address migration alone. We need a strong, European approach. And we need it now.

That is why in May, the European Commission, under my leadership, presented detailed proposals for a common asylum and refugee policy. We have tripled our presence in the Mediterranean sea, helping to save lives and intercept smugglers. We are assisting Member States the most affected, sending teams from the EU border agency (Frontex), the EU asylum office (EASO) and the EU police network (Europol) to help the often overburdened national authorities identify, register and fingerprint incoming migrants, speed up the processing of asylum seekers and coordinate the return of irregular migrants. We are clamping down on smuggler networks and dismantling their cruel business models. We are showing solidarity with our neighbours like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon by resettling 20,000 refugees from outside of Europe. We are working with third countries of origin and transit to open up legal channels of migration and to conclude readmission agreements to facilitate returns of people who do not have a right to stay in Europe. And we are putting a renewed focus on enforcing the recently adopted EU rules on asylum, from reception conditions, asylum procedures to the obligation to take fingerprints.

In May, we proposed to establish a relocation mechanism to assist Member States by relocating a small portion of the high numbers of people in genuine need of international protection arriving in Italy and Greece. The Commission proposed to relocate 40 000 to other EU Member States – national governments were prepared to accept just over 32 000. We want to go much further, establishing a permanent mechanism that could be automatically triggered in emergency situations – for whichever EU Member State needs it. When we have common external borders, we cannot leave frontline Member States alone. We have to show solidarity in our migration policy.

Some of the measures proposed by the Commission have already found support. All the others now urgently need to be taken up by the EU’s 28 Member States – even those who have until now remained reluctant to do so. The dramatic events of the summer have shown that we urgently need to put this common European asylum and refugee policy into practice.

We do not need another extraordinary summit of heads of state and government. We have had many summits, and we will meet again in November in Malta. What we need is to ensure that all EU Member States adopt the European measures now and implement them on the ground. The Commission already proposed, nine years ago, to have a common EU list of ‘safe countries of origin’, making it possible to fast track asylum procedures for specific nationalities. At the time, Member States rejected the idea as interfering with national prerogatives. And yet it does not make sense that on the one hand, Member States have decided to make Western Balkan countries candidates for EU accession and, on the other, nationals of these countries are applying for asylum in the EU. In September, the Commission will thus submit a common list of safe countries of origin to the Member States.

What we need, and what we are sadly still lacking, is the collective courage to follow through on our commitments – even when they are not easy; even when they are not popular.

Instead what I see is finger pointing – a tired blame game which might win publicity, maybe even votes, but which is not actually solving any problems.

Europe fails when fear prevails. Europe fails when egos prevail.

Europe will succeed if we work together, pragmatically and efficiently.

I hope together we, Member States, Institutions, Agencies, International Organisations, Third Countries, can prove we are equal to the challenge before us. I am convinced we are able.

Europe’s history if nothing else proves that we are a resilient continent, able to unite in face of that which seeks to divide us. This should give us courage for the weeks and months to come.

Juncker’s op-ed was initially published on NewEurope’s website.
(Copyright 2015 by Politipond. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission).

2003, When the CSDP still mattered…

Tobias Schwarz/Reuters
Tobias Schwarz/Reuters

Once upon a time, the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) used to matter. Ten years ago in an essay written by Jacques Derrida and Jürgen Habermas (read here my review of Habermas’ book on the Euro crisis) in the french newspaper Libération, both thinkers called for the deepening of a common European foreign policy. It was at the time when the US, under the Bush administration, had already flexed its muscles against the will of the international community and unleashed its military power against Iraq. It was a time when the US, under a conservative administration influenced by neoconservative ideas and values, was behaving as an imperial power.

Source: Libération, 31 mai 2003
Source: Libération, 31 mai 2003

A decade later, the 2003 war in Iraq still matters for several reasons: first, Iraq is after over a decade of war and state-building a new heaven to a terrorist network, ISIS; second, the 2003 war announced the beginning of global shift of power and the decline of the liberal world order; third, it discredited the power and relevance of international institutions, especially the United Nations.

Additionally, the war created a serious transatlantic and European split. Two months after the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the Euro-Atlantic community was deeply divided. Former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, (read here the review of the documentary starring Rumsfeld) made a distinction between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe in order to distinguish on one side, France and Germany – strongly opposed to the war and the neoconservative agenda -, with the new EU Member States on the other supporting the US in its military endeavor. In Europe, the United Kingdom, under Tony Blair, was the keenly expressing its alliance to the US marking an even deeper degree of alliance in the special relationship.

In some way the 2003 war in Iraq was a wake-up call for Europe and its Member States. The EU ought to be more autonomous in foreign affairs. The question of EU foreign policy is not new as one can go back to the failed European Defense Community tentative of 1954. After several failures (EDC and EPC), it was finally addressed, materialized and institutionalized in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty with the creation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP), composing the second pillar. Six years, later, during the December bilateral meeting in Saint-Malo between French President Jacques Chirac and

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), called since the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon as the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), was born. The reason for the two European military powerhouses to seek for a civilian-military instrument, autonomous from NATO, was to assert European security in its region and neighborhoods. The CSDP was born in the ramble of the Balkans – war in Bosnia and Kosovo -, when the EU was unable to stabilize its neighborhood without the intervention of the US/NATO forces.

2003 marked the beginning of the lengthy Iraq war, but as well the use for the first time the CSDP. Three CSDP missions were launched in 2003:

  • EUPM BiH mission, the first CSDP mission, a Police Mission in Bosnia & Herzegovina (2003-2012)
  • ARTEMIS DRC mission, a military operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2003)
  • CONCORDIA Fyrom mission, a military operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2003)
Source: EEAS
Source: EEAS, 2014

For the first time of its history the European Union (EU) had some sort of civilian-military instrument, the CSDP, in order to project power and stabilize the near and broad neighborhoods. Despite the deep division between ‘venus’ and ‘mars’ (remember Kagan?), 2003 was a year of reflection and action for the EU and its Member States. Not only the CSDP was deployed, but at the end of the year, the EU adopted its first European Security Strategy (ESS) titled A Secure Europe in a Better World. The ESS served several objectives:

  • first, to re-unite the EU Member States;
  • second, to give a strategic direction to the Union now active a civilian-military actor;
  • third, to respond to the 2002 US National Security Strategy (NSS). It was really an ideological fight between preventive action and unilateralism (US) versus ‘effective multilateralism’ (EU).

As argued by Derrida and Habermas, the “war [in Iraq] made Europeans conscious of the progressive and announced decline of the common foreign policy” (in french, “la guerre a fait prendre conscience aux Européens du naufrage depuis longtemps annoncé de leur politique extérieure commune”). 2003 was the beginning of a new era in European actions on the global stage ending abruptly with the collapse of global markets ensued by the Eurozone crisis in 2007. In some ways, the short period, 2003-2007, was the golden years of EU foreign and security policy.

Aside from the global financial crisis, has the CSDP been one of the victims of President Obama? During the Bush years, the EU had in some degree found an ‘enemy,’ a person that it could materialize an opposition. It was unilateralism versus multilateralism, international law versus impunity. With the election of President Obama, US foreign policy in regard to Europe has been very different. The message once was ‘do not overshadow and duplicate NATO’ (see the 3Ds of Madeleine Albright, refer p.10) and let the US take care of European security. Sloan even called US foreign policy towards the CSDP the ‘yes, but’ policy; ‘yes’ Europe can develop its CSDP, ‘but’ NATO is the predominant actor in European security. With President Obama, the American strategy shifted to a ‘yes, please’ strategy. Since the US (remember former Defense Secretary Gates) has called on the EU to share the burden, the EU has been unable, or even unwilling, to answer the call.

An important component in the EU defense and foreign policy engine has been the Franco-British couple. Aside from the 2010 Defense agreement, both countries have not been aligned politically, economically and strategically in recent years. Britain, under David Cameron, has been more consumed about bringing back powers to European capitals than seeking for contributing to the integration process. Britain’s big European policy is directly embedded on the eventual referendum on the future of Britain’s EU membership. Cameron certainly won’t seek for deeper integration in defense and foreign policy matters. The latest appointment of Michael Fallon as Defense Secretary, a conservative and euroskeptic favorable to Britain independence, may contribute to widening the gap between continental Europe and the island. In the case of France, Paris has been over-active in launching a military operation almost every year (Libya in 2011, Mali in 2013, and Central African Republic in 2014). Each time, the CSDP was sidelined.

imagesDerrida and Habermas in their 2003 essay underscored the importance of a common foreign policy as part of the European construction. They argued on the importance of a european citizenry and identity. Without it, it is difficult to foresee any sustainable European Union or common foreign policy striving in the coming decades. Ten years ago the CSDP seemed possible even though the Union faced a serious political and strategic crisis caused by the Iraq crisis. Today, the idea of a CSDP seem improbable considering the powerful domestic forces, the economic slowdown and rise of populism. At the end of the day the Bush years may have been the greatest thing for the CSDP.

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