June 25, 2009
There will no effective foreign policy till the small countries accept that only the bigwigs are counting in world policy.
Just look at Reuters that covers world policy daily. Do you remember any mentioning of the Irish, Dutch, Hungarian prime minister’s remarks on North Korea, Iran or the Middle East?
What they cover is the French, the British and German opinions and announcements. They are the ones who are counting.
It must be admitted openly that bigwigs are representing the EU’s opinion to the world. Like it or not, that is the situation.
Admitting this fact does not necessarily dissolve European unity. In order to avoid it, we must make a difference between representation and unanimity.
We Europeans can not change the world. Even for us, who are living in small European countries, it is natural that our Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers are restricting their comments on domestic issues and interest. We won’t be proud of our Primes if they were active in solving the Middle East problems or were busy dealing with Iran. We would think that they are at least naive or at worst, idiots.
Even we, the citizens of the smaller countries are watching, leading, tracking the big European leaders’ opinions and comment. On the basis of common sense, we are making daily difference between representation and consultation.
We do not like if our elected leaders are not consulting with other elected leaders in the EU and does not shape the EU’s policy. But we know that Merkel’s words are more important than our leader’s words.
Being effective in world policy, any entity needs influence, means and institutions. Only the big European countries have traditions, skills and experience to deal with such issues. Only they have the economic leverage to press for their proposals. Only they have the necessary resources to support any policy.
Europe is based on cooperation. Only that the world is overstepping it. Iran’s democratic or anti-democratic choices or Russia’s decisions are influencing us, risking the security of our perimeters., but our saint unity is stopping us forming an effective policy.
Paradoxically, the current system is serving more of the interest of the big European countries. They are, in theory, on the basis of coordinating their steps in foreign policy matters. In fact, they are following their own paths. If we do not put the responsibility of an effective foreign policy on them formally, they will always have an excuse to do what they want. If we the people expect from the French, German and the British Prime to act on the basis of European unity and in the interest of Europe as a whole, we must create possibilities to do so.
Do not beat around the bush.
The often used counter – argument says that the EU is not about a common foreign policy. It is already changed with the majority decision of accepting the new constitution. People and political elites is Europe made the decision to accept a foreign officer for the EU. What will he do? Placing calls to all of the responsible man to talk endlessly on foreign policy issues without the aim of getting somewhere?
Or is a he or she a high level receptionist?
The main thing is overcoming unanimity and equality. It never existed in foreign policy. What we need is facing this reality and create such a mechanism that put pressure on those who are capable and involve those who think they interrest lies in a more assertive European foreign policy.
If we think that a European trade embargo is hardly acceptable to the Iranian leaders, why do not we create a policy framework to facilitate it? If we think that it is not our best interest to have an Iranian nuclear bomb, what stop us from making a unified front against it? If we think that it is not a big deal, why we do not negotiate for better rewards from the Iranians?
I used the word „we”, because I think that we, the Europeans have many more common interest in world policy. Fishing is disrupting us. We Hungarians are not interested in it as we lost our access to any sea, but Norway and Spain have much more stake in it. But an Iranian threat, bombing of the European cities by any terrorist organization and the more subtle topics like people’s equal rights are certainly important for us.
No one is responsible in the EU for representing our common interests.
Maybe Mr Sarkozy would grab for my arguments as the possible leader of Europe. He is at least capable of it. Come over quickly that Europe is about equlity and let’s face the fact that this sort of cooperation does not work in foreign policy. Create the checks and balances to let him do what he already is doing. EU is, in a way, an experience in taming the existing disruptive forces. Do it in foreign policy as well. We the Europeans need the unified forces of our leaders in foreign policy.