Crafting the EU Global Strategy: Building Blocks for a Stronger Europe

Written by | Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Kristi Raik, Niklas Helwig and Tuomas Iso-Markku (The Finnish Institute for International Affairs)

In June 2015, the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, was granted a mandate by the Member States to create a new document, which would update the 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS). The EU’s emerging global strategy for foreign and security policy should be presented in June 2016 and its task is clear: to respond to the changing international environment on a global and regional scale and adjust the EU’s foreign policy to these developments as well as to the newly-emerging security threats in Europe’s immediate neighbourhood.

The global strategy should touch upon all three priority areas of the EU’s foreign policy. Firstly, it is necessary to take into account the increasing geopolitical influence of autocratic powers, particularly China. The EU should not abandon the nature of its foreign policy, which has so far been based on values ?and norms (that is promoting democracy and the rule of law), but it should also certainly act in the international arena in a more realistic way. Secondly, the Union must re-assess its Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) in such a way so that European citizens gained the impression that this tool is actually there for their benefit and safety. The CSDP must not but also cannot replace the NATO’s role in Europe, and it should therefore primarily focus on the stabilization of both the nearer and more distant European neighborhood while Member States must necessarily increase investment into military and civilian capacities and the defense industry.

Thirdly, in the context of its external action, the Union should ensure a comprehensive approach and a higher coherence of its foreign policy. Just like crisis management strives to cover all levels of the given conflict during humanitarian operations, so should the EU try to solve the current migration crisis whether we talk about the coordination of asylum policies, control of the external borders, combating illegal smugglers or diplomacy with the transit countries. Finally, it is also vital that the EU institutions are able of a sort of “global reflection” of their internal operation – first of all, the Commission must realize that its decisions in the areas of agriculture, justice or the common market are being closely watched also beyond the EU’s borders.

For Europe, the international situation is in many ways less favorable than more than a decade ago, in 2003, when the ESS was first introduced. While its purpose especially lay in the settling of dramatic disagreements among European countries over the invasion of Iraq, the current global strategy must similarly take into account the growing nationalist and isolationist tendencies within the EU, help overcome the growing contradictions among particular EU countries and restore the confidence of Member States in the common foreign policy.

(The study can be downloaded here:

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