A unified Europe could set the global agenda

Building up the European External Action Service swiftly and in record time seems to be everybody’s goal.

The creation of the EEAS is a step forward in the Europeanization of foreign policy. A new culture and consensus of doing diplomacy will emerge. By pooling their resources, the member states will punch above their individual weight in world politics, thus proving the musings about European decline greatly exaggerated.

On the other hand, they might not.

We can hardly enjoy of any post-Lisbon calm. The Lisbon treaty and the EEAS do give the European external relations a new chance — but only a chance. When the President of France, the German Chancellor and the British Prime Minister want to be seen and respected on the world stage, the room for common foreign policy is limited, even with the EEAS.

Fancy frameworks alone are not enough. The European powers have to invest more in European foreign policy also in terms of substance if they want the EU to be a genuine global actor.

Actually, more than external action service we need political will. Unfortunately, often the so called great powers of Europe UK, France and Germany do not pull together in order to develop an effective common foreign policy.

The European great powers desperately stick to their old 19th century roles. Nevertheless, their power is merely illusionary. UK, Germany and France do not play in the same league with the United States, Russia, China and India. It is a fact of life.

It is not a coincidence that Mrs Clinton chose to go first to China as she was appointed a secretary of state. Individual European powers are not as important to the US as the powerful China is. Nonetheless, Europe could be critically important if only we had the will and smartness to combine our forces.

Mr Cameron’s EU-sceptical Conservative party prioritizes relations with the US over the EU. And yet the EU is exactly the instance where the UK and all of us should stick together, create common policies and eventually act together as a global power within matters that are important to us, i.e. environment, climate change and global security.

Fortunately the Conservative party is accompanied with the radically different and pro-European Liberal-Democrats. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe understands that the EU has to be united if we want the big players such as the US and China to take us seriously. A unified Europe would be able to set the agenda and lead it.

One does not have to be a Euro-enthusiast to get the message. It is enough to be a pragmatist. History and facts speak for more cooperation and pooled influence in Europe’s international relations.

The financial and economic crisis has taught us how depended we are of one another. What is more, the crisis has taught us that when we act together we can actually come up with solutions and tangible results. The union has the keys for a better future but it requires political will and courage from the member states. I encourage us to turn our glance to the future also in the international relations of Europe.

Published in EP Today 10.7.2010