A new strategy that defines the foreign and security policy priorities of the EU, entitled “Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe”, was launched in June 2016. Given the major crises faced in Europe, the Global Strategy addresses the internal shortcomings of the EU and the external risks and challenges. A global version of Europe’s position in an unpredictably unstable world is presented, taking into account inter-sector aspects (politics, economy, security) and geographical aspects (Transatlantic dimension, Russia, Middle East, etc.).
In its 53 pages, the document presents an updated version of the European weaknesses in the foreign and security policy. The strategy is a common document that incorporates the thoughts and opinions of the European institutions (European External Action Service, the European Commission, the European Parliament etc.), of the member states and civil society of Europe and the EU’s partner countries (Brazil, Georgia etc.). This way, the Global Strategy assesses the EU’s role in promoting international law, preventing conflicts and managing crises in the context of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, in a comprehensive and rather objective way.
An important place in the strategy is occupied by the eastern and southern neighborhood of the EU. They start from the idea that to ensure security inside Europe, security must be generated in its proximity following the principle of ‘communicating vessels’. Moldova is not mentioned in the document, but the passages dedicated to the European neighborhood comprehensively analyze the EU’s attitude to the eastern neighborhood.
About Global Strategy’s content in short
When analyzing semantically the Global Strategy, we ascertain that among the key subjects on which the EU lays emphasis is democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Thus, 20 references are made to democracy, 30 to human rights and six to the rule of law. These aspects are mentioned not at all accidentally, but in order to underline their importance inside the EU and outside it. According to the Strategy, the European democracies must be consolidated and supported because they represent the EU’s ‘identity card’. The undermining of democracy and complementary values (human rights and rule of law) on the European territory affects the image and, respectively, the credibility of the EU in its relationship with the other state players. As a result, the Europeans’ power of attraction and conviction loses intensity and quality. This fact can encourage the international players to more often and more openly disregard the pro-democratic interventions of the EU.
A rules-based international order is another aspect that dominates the text of the Strategy. The authors of the document mention these ‘rules’ 23 times, underlining always the necessity of respecting the international law and the role of international relations based on multilateralism. The EU pledges to promote this principle in its foreign policy, which is seen as the main ingredient for maintaining peace, prosperity and security at regional and global levels. At the same time, the ‘rules’ of the game that maintain global order, whose observance is in the focus of the UN, contribute to the incorporation of the democratic values in the international law, which corresponds to the EU’s interests. Indirectly, this broaches again the destructive gestures of Russia, which recently violated the international treaties when it annexed Ukrainian territories and initiated actions to destabilize eastern Ukraine.
European Neighborhood Policy and Eastern Partnership
The Eastern Neighborhood, as the southern one, is analyzed through the angle of possible risks. That’s why more commitment on the part of the EU is envisioned. On the one hand, the strategy underlines that the people in its vicinity want closer relations between their countries and the EU. On the other hand, the EU reminds of its power of attraction, noting that this can lead to transformations ensured in the context of the ENP and its dimensions. The document clearly specifies that the EU’s actions are not aimed against a particular country, alluding to Russia, which often insinuates that the ENP is an anti-Russia geopolitical project.
The strategy confirms that the ENP will contain the same degree of commitment on the part of the EU for the EaP while the new ENP is being finalized. So, the EU promises to develop the relations within Association Agreements and partnerships tailored to the specific features of the countries. The strengthening of resistance in the ENP countries represents one of the main priorities of the EU. Thus, the Strategy provides that the EU will develop different forms of resistance strengthening in the countries of its southern and eastern neighborhood, aiming at their weaknesses and based on their European aspirations.
The Strategy makes no explicit reference to Moldova neither when it mentions insecurity matters (Ukraine) nor when it specifies positive aspects (Georgia). Also, only Georgia is mentioned among the countries with Association Agreements/DCFTA that had valuable contributions to the elaboration of the strategic document. Regardless of the level of involvement in working out the Global Strategy, this includes guarantees for all the countries interested in extending their relations with the EU.
So, first of all the strategy confirms the EU’s assistance in implementing the Association Agreements/DCFTA.
Secondly, it is raised again the idea of creating a common economic area for the countries that implement the DCFTA, which are Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. It is planned to extend the Trans-European Networks, which, in the limits of the EU, is aimed at strengthening the social and economic cohesion between member states. Alongside the implementation of the provisions of the Energy Community, the EU promise greater physical (transport infrastructure, etc.) and digital interconnection.
Thirdly, it is suggested fully becoming involved in the eligible EU programs (about 20 programs). So far, Moldova has taken part in Erasmus+, COSME, Creative Europe and Horizon 2020.
Last but not least, the Strategy mentions the strengthening of resistance in its eastern neighborhood in the context of the actions of Russia, which, by the events in Ukraine (Donbas, Crimea) caused a huge break in the European security architecture. In other words, the EU is determined to support the right of the states to decide by themselves the relations with the EU. This way, Moldova, together with Georgia and Ukraine, will be able to count on the support of the EU, on condition that they have the European aspirations because of which they are subject to pressure on the part of Russia.
Instead of conclusion
The EU Global Strategy is a document that objectively describes the EU’s deficiencies and the reciprocity between the European states that more often become victims of political egoism and radical populism.
The document reiterates aspects related to the existential crisis experienced by the EU following the chain of crises that tests the strength of the European project. Democracy and human rights mark the whole Strategy, reminding that the EU must protect its democratic identity at home so as to be credible outside.
It is underlined that the EU’s internal security is interconnected with security in its neighborhood. This creates preconditions for a more pro-active attitude on the part of the EU. The EU cannot neglect the insecurity in Moldova and in other states in the European neighborhood as this ultimately can affect security and stability in Europe.
The Strategy confirms the EU’s interest in supporting the European agendas of the countries with Association Agreements/DCFTA such as Moldova. Moreover, even if in a more discreet form, the document envisions the possibility of offering European assistance in case of external pressure, alluding to Russia. The level of the EU’s involvement in its neighborhood depends on the intensity of the European aspirations of the neighboring countries. In Moldova’s case, the dialogue with the EU is based on profound commitments, not only on purely political European aspirations. If Chisinau misses the opportunities offered by the EU, during the next two-five years Moldova will be ‘attractive’ to EU only owing strictly to the insecurity that this will produce on the European border.
Dionis Cenușa is a politologist, holding an MA degree in interdisciplinary European studies from the College of Europe.
Areas of interes: European integration, European policies, EU's foreign policy, migration and energy security.
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