Europe: facing the systemic shift

, by Sarantis Michalopoulos

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Europe: facing the systemic shift

Taking into consideration the recent Summit Council of the E.U. which took place in Brussels in the 1st of September dedicated to the Russian invasion in Georgia, the diachronic issue of Europe’s political role in the constantly changing international system emerged in the surface of the European political scene.

In terms of the various conflicting interests of the member states, the European Union managed to handle the crisis in the fragile subsystem of Caucasus, promoting through the appropriate diplomatic manoeuvres the peace consolidation. The consensus among the member states constitutes undoubtedly a significant step forward towards a unity that indicates the unprecedented need for closer cooperation as far as the foreign policy issues are concerned. It is the proof that the political willingness is still alive and Europe’s principal goal is a more active participation and consequently a greater influence on the changing conditions. Having experienced the catastrophic consequences of the Cold War and the repeated polarizations in its interior, Europe has the mechanisms to face the challenges of the contemporary reality, aiming to assure the stability peace.

The unilateral actions of the main actors of the international political scene place obstacles against the general stability of the regional subsystems. Europe is obliged to be heard with a common “voice”, as happened in the mentioned council, sending a cohesion message on a global level. The equilibrium between the multidimensional interests was achieved and simultaneously the exorbitant statements supporting the imposition of sanctions against Russia were finally counterbalanced and appeased. The bilateral Euro-Russian relations passed in a new era, where the European geopolitical and economic priorities are reconsidered subsequently affecting the future of the European foreign policy.

In the European political agenda, the priorities hierarchy has changed as a whole

Initially, the “energy game” that takes place in the greater region of Eurasia constitutes a substantial reason for the convergence of the European interests. In the European political agenda, the priorities hierarchy has changed as a whole. The satisfaction of the common economic needs, leads to more coherent policies and fewer monolithic approaches of the international politics. Nevertheless, this fact collides with the current military reality of the European Union, which is based on the North Atlantic Alliance. What the European Union has to avoid in long term are the “zero sum” relations, in order to sustain the balance among the neo Cold War scenarios, ensuring its survival and maintaining its leading role in the international system.

The redistribution of power, the shift in the rules and the rights of the main units of the international politics constitute catalytic factors for the acceleration of the procedure of European integration. By deepening and introducing essential institutional changes the European Union will have to simplify the decision-making process, presenting at the same time a single face, reinforcing gradually the autonomy of its military forces. In the face of possible future violent movements of greater venturousness degree in terms of the international chessboard, the eternal issue of the common European foreign policy re-enters the modified “European dialogue”. The federalist voices, the urge for a political union and more autonomous security and defense system are “entering” the sphere of political realism. The tension between realism and idealism is turning into a relative redefinition and simultaneously the European diplomacy is being exercised in accordance with pragmatism, putting the common European interest in the first position of the political agenda.

In conclusion, it is obvious that the acceleration of the reinforcement of the European defense system is inevitable. The E.U., trying to survive between the two controversial priorities of its foreign policy, has to ensure the energy goals on an geo-economic level at first and at the same time reconsider its current defense choices. Thus, the European community has to focus its diplomacy on a macro level, taking advantage of the opportunities that appear and acting as promptly as possible.

Image: Women in the Caucasus; source: www.flickr.com

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