Europe: Turning Point?, Anne-Cécile Robert (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Pro-EU protests in Kyiv, February 2014

Thomas Trutschel Photothek Getty

Met Three presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and European Commission’s Ursula von der Leyen, hold a press conference at the Gallery of the Great Battle at the Palace of Versailles to address the EU’s response, March 10, 2022. announced. War in Ukraine. They didn’t make a shocking announcement, but they did have a clear desire to impress viewers that the historical conflict between Europe was over. It’s a turning point for our European project,” Macron said with satisfaction.

Rarely has the EU27 shown such unity on a major geopolitical issue. Within days, a tough package of sanctions against Moscow was implemented, in an unprecedented move to authorize the transfer of arms to the country at war. The new European Peace Facility (EPF), created in 2021, has made an impressive debut. Under its provisions, the EU is now able to deliver military equipment to areas of operations. Previously, its international intervention was strictly limited to development assistance and peacekeeping.

This giant step will allow the EU to entrust history with the memory of its impotence during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The United States, not Europe, ended a devastating civil war “two hours from Paris” under the 1995 Dayton Accords. This bitter lesson led to the formulation of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which was launched in 1992 as part of the Maastricht Treaty and continued to develop until the Lisbon Treaty (2007). and National Defense Policy (CSDP). Then, among other organizations, the EU had the Diplomatic Corps, the European Defense Agency, and the EU Battle Group.

This impressive array begs the question. What projects is this new defense structure intended to serve? He defines this very broadly to include security and combating terrorism, defense, managing migration flows, sustainable development, digital cooperation, agriculture, health and energy. At Versailles, he even mentioned food and (inexplicably) called “protein sovereignty”.

For a long time, France followed General de Gaulle’s lead and advocated for a powerful Europe that could set different objectives than the United States. Other European countries, especially Germany, never shared de Gaulle’s vision. This was partly due to distrust of France, which he felt was tyrannical, and partly because of a sense of security from being under U.S. umbrella. “A stronger and more capable EU in the field of security and defense will make a positive contribution to global and transatlantic security,” read Versailles’ final declaration of his summit, “complementing NATO.” NATO remains the cornerstone of collective defense,” said its members. Were these the final ceremonies for the idea of ​​a Europe of independent nation-states, so dear to de Gaulle?

A stronger and more capable EU in the field of security and defense will make a positive contribution to global and transatlantic security and will complement NATO, which remains the cornerstone of the collective defense of its member states.

Versailles Summit Declaration

There is a view in French diplomacy that one should not get too hung up on word choice. We rarely choose between sovereignty and autonomy. But “sovereignty” is associated with the emergence of nation-states in his 17th century. Macron knows the importance of this word echoes throughout the great moments of French history. His relentless use may reflect European federalist ambitions. The new German government’s program and decision to raise the defense budget to more than his 2% of his GDP opens an unprecedented avenue for such projects.

However, the EU27, which is due to define a “strategic compass” this spring, has so far failed to adhere to the principles set forth in the 1992 Petersburg Declaration (humanitarian and relief missions, peacekeeping and peacebuilding). We are satisfied with solidarity based on combat power in crisis management). operation).

To navigate the volatile waters of the new global geopolitics in a sustainable and mutually supportive manner, the EU27 will develop a shared vision of a realistic world that derives substance from the definition of ‘common interests’. Here, given the level of corruption in Kyiv, it is questionable to continue to insist on “democracy” and “European values” to justify supporting Ukraine. There is As if it weren’t enough to support the just struggle of the unjustly invaded people. This narrative, detached from reality, like the alleged “systemic rivalry” in relation to Russia and China, shows that the EU sees itself as a “moral” power that protects value systems. is showing.

Does this “global cop” stance match the more prosaic and even cynical requirements of all foreign policy? The severity of the sanctions imposed on Moscow reflects the seriousness of the crime. But it also happens to fit the US worldview, which includes containment of Russia. However, given geographical realities, it may be in the interests of Europeans to make some adjustments with powerful neighbors who cannot erase their presence from the continent.

The quiet feud between Paris, which opposes Ukraine’s speedy EU membership, and the European Commission, which supports it and is trying to open the door to Georgia and Moldova, is anchored even at Europe’s geographical borders. It reminds me that there is no Georgia’s application, which like Turkey’s is still pending, evokes uncertain borders between the EU and Asia. So let’s avoid the word ‘people’, but when we talk about ‘sovereignty’, what territory and population do we have in mind, and what vision of the world are we defending? Der Leyen, Macron and Michel emphasized that “Ukraine belongs to the European family”. This is ultimately a vague criterion and does not reflect geopolitical thinking.

Some points are not clear. How can “strategic autonomy” be reconciled with promoting free trade? Free trade has led, for example, to the dismantling of the “community first” policies that protected European agriculture from devastating competition. To address the agricultural impact of the war in Ukraine, the commission is now discussing “crisis measures”.Its overall strategic thinking includes trade deals, especially with Asia and Africa (1).

Where are the limits of anti-Russian solidarity and can it survive a war? And Berlin prefers American F-35s to French Rafales. The reason is that it is cheaper and has better performance than the French Rafale. This view says a lot about the misunderstanding of the “common defense”. This hasn’t stopped Paris from upping the ante, with Prime Minister Jean Castex saying on March 11, 2022, “I don’t distinguish between French independence and European independence.”

It is worth noting that despite the stage-controlled performance in the gallery of the great battles, the EU’s common foreign and defense policy remains in the hands of sovereign governments, unanimously agreed by the 27 member states. Agreed, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The EPF budget is set and administered intergovernmentally outside the federalized procedures prevailing in the Single Market and the Eurozone. The keywords “cooperation” and “partnership” indicate a participatory rather than coercive approach, always allowing states to opt out or block decisions.

President Macron likes to brandish the trident of “sovereignty, unity and democracy” to force the EU27 to accept “European sovereignty” as a necessity, not a French illusion.However, to this day he has not received a mandate from the French electorate for such an undertaking.

The idea of ​​a European Defense Community (EDC), stillborn in 1954, would not be revived, and the European Armed Forces would fall under the jurisdiction of the Defense Commissioner (which required NATO’s agreement). But sending deadly weapons to Ukraine could potentially open the door to long-term federalization.

What gives legitimacy to this European integration process? President Macron likes to brandish his trident of ‘sovereignty, unity and democracy’ (2) To make the EU27 accept “European sovereignty” as a necessity, not a French illusion. To this day, however, he has received no mandate for such undertakings from the French voters, so his call to democracy is merely a slogan. Observers split him into two camps. On the one hand are those whose legitimacy (conferred by universal suffrage or its representatives) is the crowning achievement of the process and not a prerequisite for further “transfer of sovereignty.” On the other hand, those who believe that accepting a fait accompli is actually a prerequisite if it is to be avoided.

With a nuclear strike capability, the world’s third-largest diplomatic network and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, France (the EU’s main military power) is perhaps one of the most bets on power transfer to the EU. . But does the transfer of sovereignty automatically create a common political project while people are waiting to be consulted, and is it justified? Europe: Turning Point?, Anne-Cécile Robert (Le Monde Diplomatique)

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