chapter  6
4 Pages

Conclusion

A more capable Europe would be an equal and thus a real partner for the US in a revitalized trans at lantic relationship. Since the end of the second Bush administration, Washington has once again sought to cooperate with Europe as well as other partners. No longer, furthermore, does the US ana lyse global prob lems from a strictly milit ary per spect ive; political and civilian means are accorded ever more im port ance. Hence the potential of the EU, including its CFSP and CSDP, has been recog nized and contacts have been estab lished and are being reinforced. The EU’s unique selling pro posi tion as a partner is its much-vaunted comprehensive approach to crisis management, for which it has all the instruments in house. In reality, how ever, stove-piping has usually been the order of the day, not just between but even within the pillars, and effect ive pre ven tion has rarely been achieved. The new institutional set-up can rem edy this: more strategic thinking and a truly comprehensive approach constitute the main agenda of the President of the Euro pean Council, the High Representative and, crucially, the External Action Service. These evolutions in the US and the EU have gen er ated a much more substantial dialogue between the two, which is becoming the pri mary trans at lantic forum, including for security issues. Within this EU-US part ner ship, NATO continues to play a modest but essential role; exit CSDP-NATO competition. Will these de velopments lead to Europe becoming a real strategic actor? Back in the 1950s, former Belgian Prime Minister Paul-Henri Spaak noted that there are only two kinds of coun tries in Europe: small countries, and small coun tries that have not yet realized that they are small. Throughout the pro cess of Euro pean integration, these various coun tries have gradually deepened coopera tion and integration between them via the “méthode Monnet”: with very small steps at the time, and without ever defining an expli cit strategy, only a broad marching dir ec tion. The principle of subsidiarity ruled supreme: competences were only accorded to the Euro pean level when all other options had been exhausted (and had often already caused a lot of damage). At the time, this method was sufficient for the aims of Europe. In the area of security and defence, Europe even was not an actor at all. In the con text of the Cold War it had opted for NATO and thus for US leadership, which entirely suited its purposes. For four decades, inter na tional relations remained essentially “unchanged”. Then came the end of the Cold War. The wars in former Yugoslavia were the real tipping point. When France and the UK, the most im port ant milit ary actors within the EU, concluded that on their own, and even together, they were too small to influence the course of events, ESDP was born. Additional impulses during the Euro pean Convention then produced CSDP. Ever since, the world has changed, and con tinues to change con sider ably, at an ever higher speed – that is prob ably the only constant charac ter istic of the world today. The rel at ive power of the EU and its Member States, and of the US for that mat ter, is not getting any stronger. Therefore, if the

prin ciple of subsidiarity is applied today, the conclusion must be that at the global level Member States can only have influence as a Union, including in the field of security and defence. There is no need to get mired into difficult debates about supra national or intergov ern mental approaches to coopera tion. The fact of the mat ter is that gradually all of the Member States’ pol icies are converging. What is now key is to give added value to the complex entity of the EU and its Member States by providing it with a clear strategy, so that together they can remain a rel ev ant global actor. And as the EU is a sui generis construction, its grand strategy is likely to be as well. Thus we return to the starting point of our book: grand strategy. Is strategy neces sary? “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”, said Sir Winston Churchill, and rightly so. On the other hand, if the Union and its Member States defend their values and vital inter ests without strategy, the ultimate results will remain subop timal at best, as we can witness today. This is all the more so because all of the other global actors do know their strategies and are much more proactive than an often re act ive EU. If the other global powers are all playing chess, the EU cannot be the only one playing ping pong.