A WORLD WITHOUT EUROPE SPELLS DANGER AND WOE
Until then, the UK, France and Germany will continue to pursue their national interests on the world stage but “Europe” will be absent.
The return of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is redefining the region’s relationship with the outside world.
The return of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is redefining the region’s relationship with the outside world. Whether or not the euro holds together, the solidarity among European countries has been sorely tested and the sensitivity of national electorates to the distribution of costs and benefits within the EU has increased. This tension at the heart of the European project puts on hold any notion that the EU could in the near future emerge as ‘a coherent and forceful foreign policy actor — or at least until Italy and Spain have secure access to international capital markets and probably until badly affected countries, such as Greece and Hungary, are regarded as equal partners. Until then, the UK, France and Germany will continue to pursue their national interests on the world stage but “Europe” will be absent.
This absence — rooted in economic factors but with both geopolitical and structural consequences — will be felt in numerous ways. The most important is the loss of Europe as an example of regional integration. Much of the continent’s influence in international affairs has taken place through the projection of its values and institutions to other parts of the world.
ASEAN, MERCOSUR and NAFTA are not the direct result of European influence but they would not have developed as they did if Europe had not been around to demonstrate the possibilities. The EU has also shown itself to be an effective actor. It helped to broker the ceasefire between Russia and Georgia in 2008, it plays the central role in the post-conflict stabilisation of Bosnia and Kosovo, and contributes to numerous other peacekeeping operations across the globe.