Think Global – Act European IV – Thinking Strategically about the EU’s External Action

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Publication Date 2013
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How to anticipate the negative spillover of the eurozone economic crisis on EU’s influence in the world? While focusing on fiscal consolidation and economic recovery, the EU needs to clarify its external action strategy and introduce more coherence with its internal policies.

What are the main international challenges and priorities for the EU? How to develop a more global strategy responding to those challenges? How to deal with the EU’s coordination problems between internal and external policies, the different external policies themselves, as well as between its institutional actors?

Notre Europe- Jacques Delors Institute mobilises a group of 16 European think tanks which confront their policy recommendations, within the scope of the ‘Think Global –Act European’ report.

Launched in 2008, this group of European think tanks issues a report every 18 months outlining challenges and agenda priorities.

For the past 60 years Europeans have remained focused on the internal challenges of European integration, with the euro zone debt crisis domestic issues are once again prioritised and the EU’s external action neglected. But long term geo-economic shifts underway since the 2000s - the rise of ever more economically potent and politically assertive powers- have translated under the influence of growing Western public debt, into a gradual yet relentless reversal of the relationships of power between the Western and ‘the Rest’. European influence and regulatory capacity on the global level are already rapidly shrinking.

The European Security Strategy defined by Javier Solana in 2003, has outlined a framework for action beyond mere security issues and contributed to creating a more integrated EU foreign policy. Yet it has not been reviewed since 2008. Similarly, the establishment of the EEAS intended EU diplomacy to play a significant role in the coordination of an important number of the EU’s external action instruments. Yet decision-making power still belongs to more traditional EU actors (European Commission and the Council) and key tools of external action are still insufficiently coordinated with EEAS competences.

In order to better respond to the substantial changes affecting the global arena and avoid the progressive marginalisation of Europeans on the international scene, the EU needs to equip itself with an integrated globalstrategy for the European external action.

An extensive dialogue between the EEAS, the Member States,the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament is needed to overcome institutional discrepancies and allow the drafting of a new inclusive global strategy integrating the broad impacts of the crisis and introducing more coherence between external policies and the external dimension of internal policies.

Five broad themes are discussed:

+ How can Europeans promote their economic interest at the global level?

+ What are the EU external strategies for resources and sustainable development?

+ How can Europeans address their demographic challenge through a comprehensive migration strategy?

+ How to make out of the EU's vicinity an opportunity for the EU itself?

+ How can Europeans be considered seriously with lower hard security capacities?

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Related Links
Notre Europe: Think Global - Act European (TGAE) : Tribine, 23.05.13: Engaging with middle and global players
Notre Europe: Tribune, 02.07.13: EU External Action: Time for a Strategic Rebound
ESO: Background information: Ashton drops big ideas on EU foreign service

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