Monday, December 17, 2007

Europe's Soft Power in a Changing World - A speech by Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Enlargement


"Dear Colleagues,

Let me start by looking to the past, before turning to the future. It is worth taking stock of just how far we have come in the past two decades.

It is only 15 years ago, in 1992, that the European Common Foreign and Security Policy was born with the Maastricht Treaty. Before then, the European Union remained primarily an economic player on the world stage.

It took another 7 years until Javier Solana was appointed the first EU "High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy" in 1999.

The years in between showed how profoundly the EU needed the leadership that Javier Solana has brought on foreign policy, and the operational capabilities that have since developed.

When Yugoslavia fell apart in 1992, on the eve of Maastricht, Europe stood by disunited and in disbelief, impotent to stop the violence. What Jacques Poos disastrously called the "Hour of Europe" in the Balkans instead became the Union's darkest moment. The first Gulf War further exposed the gap between the Union's common foreign policy "on paper" and practical reality.

Then scroll forward in time to where we are today, around a decade later.

Today there is a common foreign and security policy on the Western Balkans. These countries have an EU membership perspective. I agree with Paddy Ashdown: this is the glue that keeps the region on a peaceful track of reforms – though risks and challenges remain. It is the single greatest transformative force in Europe. Croatia is well underway to join the Union around the end of this decade. Fifteen years ago, it was a country at war.

Enlargement, meanwhile, has added 12 new members to the EU in 2004 and 2007, and proved an enormous economic opportunity. The new Member States have growth rates from 5 to 11 percent. This has contributed to Europe’s ongoing economic revival, and made us a stronger player on the world scene. In this regard, size – and competence – matter.

Turkey and the countries of the Western Balkans are next in line to join, once each of them have met the conditions for accession. Already now, they contribute in tangible ways to the Union's foreign and security policy, be it with troop contributions – like Turkey in Bosnia and Herzegovina – or by aligning themselves with EU joint actions, such as our asset freezes on persons indicted for war crimes by the ICTY.

Europe's ability to act in crisis management has grown explosively in recent years. The first European Security and Defence Policy – or "ESDP" – mission was launched only 5 years ago in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where it remains in place today. Since then, 20 missions have been launched, covering three continents, ranging from fully fledged military missions in the Balkans and Africa, to police missions Iraq and Afghanistan, and rule of law missions in the Caucasus.

If the EU's ability to act has grown explosively in recent years, it has also confirmed the limits of the present institutional framework.

For a start, while knowing the weight of national sovereignty in foreign policy, we will eventually need greater scope for decision making by qualified majority. We also need stronger operational capabilities and a foreign policy set-up that brings together the EU's policy, security and assistance instruments into a coherent structure. We need to back our external actions by internal strength, to combine hard power and soft power into smart power.

The Reform Treaty that will be signed Lisbon next month reflects these needs.

The Treaty provides for an "EU High Representative" who will also be a vice-president of the Commission, backed by an EU “foreign service,” and with a clear mandate to initiate and implement policy. This will strengthen the EU's ability to act and provide foreign policy leadership.

The Treaty also creates a duty to assist any EU member state in the event of a military or terrorist attack or a natural disaster. It also adds new capabilities to existing defence co-operation arrangements.

The EU's Security Strategy is built on the notion that – with new types of threats to our security – the first line of defence will often be abroad, and not always military by nature.

This makes the EU's soft power, and our ability to respond with a mix of policy instruments, all the more central. Be it in the Congo or in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU's military deployments are complemented by a political dimension, and sometimes a police or an aid dimension as well.

Turning our eyes to the future and 2030, I hesitate to forecast. This is partly because of the rapid development of the EU's foreign and security policy over the past 15 years, partly because of the dynamic nature of the international relations today.

Who would have predicted, in 1992, that fifteen years later the EU would have thousands of military and civilian personnel deployed on three continents in such diverse missions as is the case today? – or that the Union's CFSP budget line would be bursting at the seams under the demand from new missions?

For most of the 20th century, the list of major world powers was short and relatively unchanging: the UN permanent five, Japan, and to a lesser extent India. The 21st century will be very different. China and India are becoming heavy-weights: it is predicted that by 2025, China will be the world's second biggest economy and India its fourth. Both countries are now significant nuclear powers and they are also developing substantial ocean-going fleets.

By 2030, the world population is forecast to have risen by 25% to 8.3 billion, and Africa's share will have grown to 17-18%, up from 13 percent today. Europe, with Russia, will account for just over 9% of the world's population by 2030, based on current forecasts. This is a major change. In 1950, Europe's population still ranked fourth in the world.

These changes in world economy and population growth will inevitably be reflected in international relations. The question is how. It seems very early to judge this now.

So let me venture only a couple of goals that I believe the Union should strive for by 2030. And I will conclude with a warning against complacency and taking progress too much for granted.

The European Union by 2030 should be able to look back at enlargement taking another stride forward, with most or all of the current accession and pre-accession countries having met the conditions for membership and joined. The Western Balkans would have achieved peace and stability through integration. This will have added to our economic and political weight.

In this context, I would hope that, by 2030, the problems between Cyprus and Turkey would finally have been resolved as well! This is important in its own right, and essential for EU-NATO co-operation to realise its full potential. For the time being, because of the difficulties between Turkey and Cyprus, formal co-operation between the EU and NATO is limited to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Everything else is dealt with only informally. Given the many challenges that we will have to face together in coming years, this simply must change - for everyone's benefit.

I would also hope to see the EU's comprehensive approach to foreign and security – our mix of soft and hard power – to have made the EU an full partner to the UN in crisis management and peace support operations, along with our transatlantic partners, enabling the EU to "punch its weight" in world politics. This, of course, would depend on Member States remaining committed to provide the necessary capabilities.

And this brings me to my final point: the EU is still a Union of 27 Member States; and foreign and security policy remains the principal responsibility of Member States. The Reform Treaty is no panacea for a lack of unity on key policies, or a shortage of resources to deliver them.

We will have an early test coming up, almost before the ink is dry on the Reform Treaty: Kosovo. As ever, it is in the Balkans, in our own front yard, that the EU's soft power will be put to its toughest test.

The essence of decision on Kosovo is European unity. The Kosovo status process is in its endgame. Although the EU is turning every stone and more for a negotiated settlement, the prospects are dimming with each day that passes. The international Troika will finish its work on 10 December, and this will be the end of negotiations. As the EU's mediator, Wolfgang Ischinger has said: if no solution can be found in 120 days, it will not be found in 1200 days either. There is no gain in delaying, only prolonged agony from dragging out the process.

Consequently, as we discuss Europe’s future, we must not take our eyes off the Balkans. Conflict could still break out. We Europeans should not lull ourselves into thinking that we could just somehow muddle through this. Such miracles don’t happen. We need to seize the agenda and continue to lead in a managed and calibrated process.

But, this time, unlike 1992, we must succeed, for the sake of the Kosovo, the Western Balkans and Europe alike.

The EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy must pass this litmus test of an immediate nature in order to retain its credibility and deal with future challenges. This is another reason, apart from regional security, why the EU has so much at stake in Kosovo".


Read my article entitled "Walvoord's Brief Period of Preparation", the commonalities are evident, the counteractions are reachable.


Rudi said...

I can hardly believe this Johnny- I
Had not looked at your blog until a minute ago, and was amazed to see you've put up the exact same speech from the "Global Security and Strategy 2030" seminar that I had posted over on Constance's blog earlier this morning. The Lord much be prompting us in the same direction. Rudi

johnny said...

Right On Rudi! Glad to see where on the same page!

There is a lot going on and I'm glad the alerts are going out.

So much to report on.

Intensifying without a doubt.