Chapter 11: Protecting and Promoting – Europe's International Politics

Chapter 11: Protecting and Promoting – Europe's International Politics
Chapter Summary
Europe has a troubled history which still affects the present, notwithstanding the new
challenges presented by an ever-wider definition of what constitutes security.
Distinctions between 'old' and 'new' Europe are not irrelevant but, even though the
transatlantic relationship was strained by the Iraq war, they can be over-stated. So can the
idea that the EU and its member states are preoccupied more with soft than hard power. The
European Security Strategy sees a role for both, though military spending is comparatively
Few seriously expect Germany to constitute a threat to European peace any longer, but it is
seeking to combine its 'civilian power' tradition with a stance more in keeping with its size
and weight.
A newly assertive Russia and its former empire constitute both an opportunity and something
of a threat to Europe. The enlargement of the EU, its energy needs, and the European
aspirations of some former Soviet states have complicated relations considerably.
The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) that applies to several East European and
Eurasian states also applies to the countries of the South Mediterranean: its aim of
encouraging political and economic development in order to reduce instability and illegal
immigration might be hard to achieve.
Despite developments and missions carried out under auspices of the European/Common
Security and Defence Policy (ESDP/CSDP), a European army, though not as much of a pipedream as some suggest, is still a long way off.
The EU has come a long way in coordinating the foreign policy stances of individual states,
not least because it serves their purposes and adds value. But they continue to differ when
and where they believe it really counts.
European states, both bilaterally and through the EU, provide a massive amount of aid to the
developing world, although the good they do has to be offset against their continued
Environmental policy is another area where Europe takes the lead, although it is by no means
perfect and continues to have trouble persuading its allies to follow that lead.
Europe is the biggest trade bloc in the world and increasingly acts accordingly, sometimes
putting commercial interests above the foreign policy wishes of its allies.
Enlargement of the EU is probably the biggest foreign policy success of the last half-century,
rendering Europe more secure than it has ever been. Whether enlargement, and Europe's
relative standing in the world, can continue forever is another matter.
Useful websites
(For general web materials on European Politics see Tim Bale's Internet Guide on the
European Politics companion website)
 and
Development issues and statistics
Pan-European think-tank on foreign and international affairs
Short but interesting blogs and interviews (and more links) on European foreign,
security and military policy
EU sponsored think tank on security issues
Centre for European Policy Studies, a think tank which includes specialists on Energy,
Foreign and Defence Policy, the European Neigbourhood Programme and Trade
EU foreign policy via the European External Action Service
EU’s military force
European trade statistics and analysis
All things energy
Information on CSDP and ESDP missions
Monitors conflicts worldwide
The EU’s democracy and human rights promotion
Monitors and lobbies governments and the EU on aid issues
Discussion questions
1. Do you think that Europe is a safer place to live in now compared with at the height of
the Cold War?
2. In the build up to the Iraq war, some US politicians claimed there was a difference
between 'Old' and 'New' Europe. What did they mean and were they right?
3. Can and should European countries act together to integrate and build up a European
security and defence capability?
4. What is Europe's policy on relations with Russia? Do you think it has been successful?
5. How and why is Europe becoming more serious about its relations with the countries of
the southern Mediterranean?
6. What are the arguments - and what is the evidence - for and against a Europeanization
of foreign policy?
7. The EU makes a good deal of its role both in helping developing countries and on
environmental issues. In your view, is it right to do so?
8. Is Europe's foreign policy really driven by its trading interests? If so, is that so very
9. Conflicts between the continent’s countries are no longer military but simply domestic
disputes: will it always be like that from now on?