Carl Bildt, Radosław Sikorski, Miroslav Lajcák, Frans Timmermans
Replacing Ashton
The Next Test for Europe’s Foreign Policy

Who will replace Catherine Ashton as Europe’s foreign policy chief? Europe’s heads of state have an opportunity to back a strong figure, someone to personify and give strategic coherence to the EU’s foreign policy instruments.

Published on: May 22, 2014
Benjamin Haddad lectures in international affairs at Sciences Po Paris
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  • wigwag

    Does the European Union want to be a relevant player on the international stage? Of course it does, but it doesn’t want to marshal the resources necessary to accomplish that goal. Europe reminds me of nothing so much as a balding and obese old geezer who dreams of being able to run a marathon but who just can’t wean himself of his diet of twinkies with a coca cola shooter. There’s certainly no thought of exercise to toughen himself up; instead the geezer begs his neighbor across the pond to start training so he can run the marathon for him.

    Benjamin Haddad has buried the lead; he finally arrives at the truth in his penultimate paragraph when he says,

    “Any common diplomatic effort must be backed with reinforced military clout: Europeans will have to confront the continent’s manifest military weakness, which will necessitate reviving the Common Security and Defense Policy and opening a Transatlantic discussion on the future of NATO. In 2011, Asian defense spending exceeded that of Europe for the first time in modern history. No one should expect the European Union to match the United States in defense spending, but with an average of 1.7 percent of GDP devoted to defense spending (versus 4.1 percent for the United States), the gap between EU rhetoric and ambitions, on the one hand, and its limited deployment capacities, on the other, poses serious credibility problems.”

    Why shouldn’t anyone expect the EU to match U.S. defense expenditures? If the EU wants to be a relevant player, it will have to pay the price. Of course the likelihood of that happening is about as strong as the likelihood that the geezer we’ve talked about will be running 26 miles.

    The reality that the United States needs to confront is that the trilateral partnership with Europe and Japan that allowed the United States to lead the post World War II world is just about dead. Even if Japan does rebound from its lost decades, Europe is in extremis. It

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