July 15, 2019
Before the start of a fresh Commission and Parliament, it is worth pausing to consider the geopolitical mega shifts underway which will greatly influence Europe’s future.
Unfortunately for all EU member states, former Brussels leadership teams have championed many misguided policies and projects, such as the adoption of the euro, the common EU budget, or bringing about a federal superstate. These efforts have sapped the energy of politicians and affected the economic wellbeing of Europeans. The situation has prevented the Union’s leaders from concentrating on the momentous developments taking place on the Eurasian continent, which have a direct bearing on the EU’s future as well.
Thus, over the past 2 decades the world has witnessed not only the rise of China, but also the establishment of a Russian-Chinese strategic alliance, an event of huge importance in international affairs.
For the past few hundred years, it was Western Europe that had been the most powerful and influential geographical area in the world, economically and militarily. Its decline, which started about a century ago, was cushioned by the lifeline it received from the United States, which helped maintain the illusion of Europe’s importance a while longer. Currently, Western Europe is rapidly reverting to its former status as, simply, the westernmost corner of the enormous Eurasian landmass. Eurasia is nowadays clearly dominated economically and militarily by China and Rusia, acting in concert.
Instead of feeling threatened by such mega shifts, however, the EU’s new leadership should embrace them. To start with, both Russia and China are rich in mineral wealth, food and human resources, unlike past European empires which suffered from a lack thereof. In other words, neither of the two powers have anything to gain from invading or plundering the European Union, nor are they forced to do it. Accordingly, the establishment of a sizeable European army, for example, seems highly unnecessary.
Consequently, what the European Union’s new leadership really needs is to think of the EU as an integral part of Eurasia and act to eliminate artificial barriers to trade, investment and movement of goods and services in both directions. To date, only China has committed huge amounts of money to the Belt and Road initiative, which would provide rail and road infrastructure for the whole of Eurasia, including the European Union. The EU has so far chosen to react negatively to this project, for no good reason whatsoever. After all, the Chinese initiative is saving the EU hundreds of billions of euros, which the Union itself can ill afford. By resisting such investments on ideological grounds, the European Union is only aggravating its already dire economic situation without gaining anything in return.
The reconnection of western and central Europe with the rest of the Eurasian continent – of which it has always been an integral part – is, now more than ever, a geopolitical and economic imperative.Spotlight on Geopolitics