Describe the current geo-political situation in the European Union and the threats that the bloc faces in the future.
Published: December 4, 2019
Last month the French President Emmanuel Macron rocked the European political boat in an interview with ‘The Economist” where he declared that “Europe is on the edge of a precipice, his remarks come in the background of the current geopolitical situation in Europe. A resurgent Russia which is trying its level best to chip away the sovereignty of Eastern European states, China which has successfully managed to drive a wedge between various EU countries on grounds as diverse as Infrastructure to 5G and an isolationist United States under the leadership of President Trump which is increasingly becoming disillusioned with Europe, its never-ending troubles and the costs of staying invested in the continent. President Macron’s interview should be a wake-up call to the rest of EU members and reminded them that the bloc can no longer depend on foreign powers for political weight lifting.
The EU’s predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), was established in 1957. Consisting of a homogeneous group of six Western European countries (Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands).
The next stage was the Treaty of Maastricht, signed in 1992 which created the Euro and, later, also pushed for the eastward expansion of the bloc. The Treaty of Lisbon in 2007, and came into force in 2009, marked another political evolution, introduced a permanent President of the European Council and strengthened the position of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The above measures were deployed in order to solidify European unity and sovereignty but resulted in making the bloc weak and ineffective. Unlike the original Western European members, who were a homogenous the present lot of 28 member states have little in common with each other, the organization has a north-south divide on economic issues and east-west on the migration issues.
Due to this rapid expansion of such a diverse group of countries the EU lost its purpose. At the start, it was a grouping of West European democracies committed to peace on the continent and closer economic ties with each other, with US-led NATO as its security provider. Being a Liberal democracy was critical to getting an EU membership as autocracies like General Franco’s Spain was denied membership. Today, member states like Hungary and Poland openly stifle democracy in their countries. Right-wing populist leaders from every corner of the EU, from Nigel Farage to Viktor Orbán have become more prominent in recent years and want to claw back their country’s sovereignty from Brussels.
Along with internal fissures, the EU is also facing heavy external pressure as the United States can no longer be relied upon to provide security to the content as it did during the cold war. The decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria without consulting her European allies is a good example.
With NATO being a US-led organization where the US contributes to a lion’s share of its budget a US withdrawal from the continent means a NATO withdrawal. In terms of airlift and other important strategic assets, NATO is completely dependant on the US.
With the US withdrawing, China driving a wedge between the bloc through its Belt & Road initiative, and separate summits with East European countries and a resurgent Russia breathing down on Eastern Europe the future of the continent itself looks dark.
Model Questions Category: 053 - Indias Foreign Policy Neighbourhood International Relations