While all Europeans have become hostages of the Brexit talks, the Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini on Tuesday (28 June) offered a reassuring project for angry and worried European citizens, writes Damien Helly.
Damien Helly is deputy head of European Centre for Development Policy Management’s Strengthening European External Action Programme
The Global Strategy for the EU is a frank diagnosis of the world’s complex challenges and a wake up call to European societies’ collective decline and irrelevance. It offers an historical step change in the way security and prosperity are addressed in our societies and aspires to be a lighthouse for Europeans sailing on uncertain waters.
EU negotiations with the UK on their future relationship will also be inspired by this courageous document emanating from wide consultations with European people on the future they want.
There are four key elements in the Global Strategy:
Firstly, it is reassuring because it is not delusional, and not bureaucratic. It is a call for European maturity. The strategy addresses serious threats (European internal divides, Russia, conflicts around Europe, tensions in Asia) with no complacency. It sets out clear priorities – boosting European strategic autonomy and self-confidence, in addition to the comfort of relying on NATO and the US; conflict resolution; shared prosperity; and migration management. The strategy encourages Europeans to look honestly at these issues and to find concrete ways to manage them together as a bloc by building everyone’s resilience.
Secondly, the strategy is reassuring because it is not dismissive of people’s European values and does not shy away from difficulties (jobs, fragility, doubts and fears about migration flows) within European societies to keep those values alive. It offers a people-centred investment project. Investing in people’s future jobs and security is combined with a stronger engagement in dealing with others’ problems in the world, but also sharing opportunities with them.
Thirdly, the strategy is a global diplomatic project embedded in European strengths. It is about political talks, but also about climate, stronger representation of the Euro in the world, smart cooperation, fair trade, meaningful investments, youth exchanges. In other words, Europeans are offered to contribute to new forms of diplomacy – mixing soft and hard power – in which they can play a role in various forms of engagement at home and abroad.
Finally, the Global Strategy covers the entire world and seeks to contribute to better global governance by reforming contested multilateral structures in which old European powers have concentrated their domination. It brands our societies in new ways: Europeans already are and can become more effective “agenda-shapers” and “connectors”, “within a networked web of players”. The Global Strategy also clearly aligns with the latest global commitments to sustainable development, climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The very fact that the Global Strategy succeeded in becoming global in its ambition and remit makes it a unique achievement. One year ago, the scope of this strategy was still under discussion and the risk of ending up with a narrow security strategy was real.
While it is not very precise on geographic priorities (always contentious issues amongst EU Member States) in Asia and in Africa and the connections with citizens and internal democratic, social and economic dynamics do not seem very concrete, the Global Strategy is unprecedented. It will be reviewed annually and re-drafted every five years and from it will emerge many sub-strategies giving direction to modernised global ways of life in Europe. It will never replace national political elites’ responsibilities, but it already challenges them on behalf of concerned European societies.
Federica Mogherini has been up to the task. She courageously provided European leaders with a challenging, realistic while ambitious framework, with an incredibly robust tool box reflecting the strength of European societies. The question now is: what will European leaders do with the Global Strategy?