European Strategic Independence - Quo Vadis?

The European Union has placed strategic independence at the heart of its foreign policy. This has spawned much debate about what the concept means and how it is likely to affect the external action of the European Union. Following the end of the Afghan war campaign and the rhetorical fluctuations of bureaucrats in Brussels, many hope that (with the idea of strategic independence) Europe would no longer participate in the war adventures of its coalition partners.

European Strategic Independence - Quo Vadis?
Via Reuters

Analysis

By Marian Duris

The European Union has placed strategic independence at the heart of its foreign policy. This has spawned much debate about what the concept means and how it is likely to affect the external action of the European Union. Following the end of the Afghan war campaign and the rhetorical fluctuations of bureaucrats in Brussels, many hope that (with the idea of strategic independence) Europe would no longer participate in the war adventures of its coalition partners.

Officials are calling for "more" to be done. European Council President Charles Michel expects to increase the capacity for action, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell has meanwhile sighed that "the United States is no longer willing to fight wars for others." 

While one axis of real strategic independence is about bolstering the means of power, the other is about lessening external dependence. But the intention of the EU is not to limit intervention abroad, but to intensify it within the interests of the strongest European states (mostly in the territory of former colonies, see Guinea these days). The desired strategic independence does not have to mean fewer military campaigns, but more (allegedly) separate actions. Of course, external influence always affects European soil. The latest strong evidence is Nord Stream II, pressure on the Union to accept a "ceasefire" and lift most sanctions.

Brussels' attention is scattered throughout the surrounding area, including a diverse geographical range. With this in mind, it is an illusory notion that Brussels would operate in an autonomous style and act against the interests of the main partner in any of the geostrategic zones. Because the entire planning space for military operations is under the leadership of NATO, not the EU. However, we are already used to strong Brussels words about an independent foreign policy. 

Subtle European criticism of the wars (and of the way of their end) deliberately submits the background for the establishment of force that allegedly "will stabilize the close (European) neighbourhood". However, the long-term effects are equally destabilizing. Especially in the case of the growing influence of the most strong countries, which (together with other influential actors) can drag the whole bloc into unnecessary conflicts, even by qualified majority voting (QMV) instead of voting unanimously by the Member States. 

As has been said many times, the European Union has developed a habit of generating ostensibly guiding concepts without defining their significance or offering methods to measure their effectiveness.

Marian Duris is a foreign policy expert with experience in the international relations and security sphere in the United Kingdom and an advisor to a Member of the European Parliament. He monitors the current affairs to predict trends, legislation process of EU, initiatives of European Commission and background activities that affect the sovereignty of countries. The views contained in this article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of the European Parliament.

Disclaimer: This paper is the authors' individual scholastic contribution and does not necessarily reflect the organisation’s viewpoint.