The Euro Crisis, the Other Crisis and the Need for Global Thinking

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Series Details No.2, 2012, p5-12
Publication Date 2012
ISSN 1025-6253
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In addition to the euro crisis the EU faces a second, more existential crisis, in the form of an ill-defined notion of the Union’s global role. This contribution argues that the euro crisis should not redefine perceptions of the EU on the global stage, which it is in danger of doing. Instead, the EU and its members should embark upon a strategic reassessment in order to define three core interrelated factors.

First, the nature of the EU’s actorness remains ill-defined and it is therefore necessary to explain, both within and beyond the Union, what its global role is. Second, in order to facilitate the joining up of the myriad of sub-strategies in EU external relations, the notion of ‘red lines’ should be considered which define specific aspects of behaviour that are mainstreamed throughout the EU’s external actions and, more importantly, upheld. Third, in spite of the rapid development of the harder elements of the EU’s actorness over the last decade or so, there remains a worrying gap between rhetoric and reality.

This aspect is of particular concern for the United States and will affect perceptions of the EU’s ability to be a genuine strategic partner at a time of dramatic change in the international system. By engaging in what will inevitably be a difficult debate, the EU and its members will not only help give purpose and strategic direction to the Union’s actions on the international scene, it will also speak to the euro crisis since both are fundamentally about the future shape and direction of European integration.

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