Spotlight on Geopolitics

Amid international media acclaim, the European Council on Foreign Relations has recently released the results of its innovative EU foreign policy research project, the 2012 European Foreign Policy Scorecard.

The ECFR’s researchers have assessed the EU’s foreign policy performance in 2011 in six major areas: the relationship with China, Russia, the US, Wider Europe (Western Balkans, the Eastern Neighbourhood and Turkey), crisis management handling and the EU’s support for multilateralism. The Scorecard proves that the EU’s influence as a global player has diminished significantly as a result of the mishandling of the sovereign debt crisis. With an average unemployment rate of some 10,5 percent, the EU’s soft power model has lost its lustre, the continent being currently viewed as the main source of economic instability in the world, instead of as an active participant in providing solutions to the current crisis.

Whilst in some areas the EU’s foreign policy initiatives have earned decent marks (relationship with the US, crisis management or participation within multilateral institutions), in some others (diplomatic relationship with China, Russia, Turkey or the Western Balkans) its performance was below average.

The authors have also highlighted in the report the EU’s slow and inadequate response to the 2011 Arab Awakening, as well as the fact that to this day the EU has failed to frame a functional and comprehensive Southern neighbourhood policy.

The EU’s foreign policy leaders have traditionally been France and the UK. Recently, however, Germany, Poland and Sweden have also positioned themselves in the lead, with the rest of the member-countries falling into the «slackers» category. A common, coordinated EU-wide foreign policy is yet to emerge, as a consequence of the continent’s obsession with its internal woes and the inability of its leading countries to adopt adequate pro-growth, pro-employment economic policies. More often than not, as Justin Vaisse, co-lead author of the Scorecard has noted, EU countries prefer to conduct foreign policies which reflect their national interest at the expense of the general interest of the Union. Not surprisingly, the EU’s influence as a multilateral, multi-national model has lost most of its appeal in Asia and Latin America alike. (sources: ECFR, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, NYT)

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