October 28, 2020

The debate on the European strategic challenges closes the Munich conference



The Munich Security Conference closed this Sunday with two debates on the strategic challenges for the European Union and for Europe, when differences grow with the United States and there are those who claim a greater European presence for the prevention and management of international crises.

The high representative of the EU for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, recalled in his speech the announcement of the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, that the Commission will be geopolitical and added his own idea according to which “Europe has that learn to speak the language of power. “

“We need a strategic consensus that we don’t have. We have to work more together, have a common understanding of the threats. That is not easy to do in a few weeks or five years because each member country has its own history,” Borrell said in his panel intervention.

Von der Leyen’s idea that the current commission will be a “geopolitical commission” had already been addressed at the same meeting by Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio.

FLEXIBILIZE THE PRINCIPLE OF DECISIONS UNANIMOUSLY

Borrell insisted several times during the debate that the decision process within the EU must be accelerated and the principle that decisions should be taken unanimously be abandoned or made more flexible.

“Consider the hypothetical case that an EU member country proposes a naval mission to monitor the arms embargo on Libya. Everyone agrees but a country that has no fleet rejects it and then it cannot be done, it is absurd,” said.

In addition, according to Borrell, the EU must play a more active role in international crises and gave as an example the Middle East issue where, he said, “it is not enough to criticize a proposed peace plan but a better one must be presented “.

He added: “Europe has to be able to act, that implies military power, yes, but there are also other fields in which we can act,” he said.

“Every time we close a trade agreement we have to put on the table also the issue of climate and human rights. We can not only complain about human rights violations,” he added.

Di Maio, who opened the panel, said the goal should be “a stronger Europe and able to react to what is happening outside of Europe, without losing sight of our values.”

The French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, expressed his optimistic opinion that a European strategic culture is gradually developing.

THE FUTURE OF A STRUCTURED EUROPEAN MILITARY COOPERATION

Le Drian recalled a meeting of EU ministers in 2016 in Bratislava when he, together with Ursula von der Leyen – who was then German Defense Minister – proposed to create a structured military cooperation within Europe.

“The reactions were as if we had insulted someone,” he said.

However, now, according to Le Drian, they are not so reluctant to the idea and are increasingly open to common initiatives to confront or prevent crises at the borders of Europe.

In the debate it became clear, on the other hand, the difference in attitude towards Russia.

While in Eastern Europe, represented in the debate by Polish Foreign Minister Jaceck Czaputowicz, Russia is seen above all as a direct threat, in the south and west, despite all the rejection of Russia’s attitude in Ukraine, it is believed that Moscow has to be part of a European security architecture in the long term.

“We may have different positions before Russia but it is undeniable that Russia is a key player in terms of security,” said Di Maio.

Czaputowicz, on the other hand, considers the idea that Russia is part of a European security architecture “absurd and currently dangerous”.

In his words of farewell to the conference, the director of the conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, said he was pleased to have led a debate on the idea of ​​the loss of influence of the Western world.

“Not everyone has agreed, but there have been debates and what we wanted was to boost those debates,” he said.

By Rodrigo Zuleta

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