Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Greanville Post • Vol. IX | The Long Arm of the EU: the Association Agreement and Expansionist Policies

It is often alleged that the EU’s foreign policy is cobbled together in an ad hoc fashion – more often badly than well – and, so the common critique goes, that there is a lack of any coherent strategy. In this paper I maintain, to the contrary, that the European Union is in fact pursuing a targeted geostrategic goal aimed at extending its sphere of influence. The motive for this is the deeply rooted belief that in order to achieve its goal of becoming a “world power”, it is essential for it to gain control of an imperial ‘grand area’ – as will be shown by reference to publications of the [European] Group on Grand Strategy (GoGS). The first priority is to control its immediate “neighbourhood”, the most important means for which is the conclusion of an association agreement between a neighbouring state and the EU. It was thus no accident – for precisely this reason – that the escalation of tension and violence in Ukraine came immediately after the former president, Victor Yanukovich, decided to postpone signature of the association agreement with the EU which was then on the table.

Pretension to world power status and strategy of expansion

Influential exponents of European politics are more and more openly articulating the pretension to join the front line of the battle for global power and influence. Thus Social-Democrat Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, said in 2013:

“Whether it wants to be or nor, Europe is a ‘global player’. The EU is the biggest and richest single market in the world, our economic strength accounts for a quarter of the world’s GDP. The EU is the biggest trading bloc in the world, the biggest donor of development aid in the world – the EU is an economic giant. Global economic power goes hand in hand with global political responsibility; Europe cannot back out of that responsibility. Europe’s partners are justified in expecting that Europe will face up to its responsibility and that the economic superpower will also become a global political superpower”.

From the point of view of the political elites, a “European Superpower” that wants to be taken seriously inescapably has to exert control over its European neighbourhood. Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorkski formulated it perfectly when he said: “If the EU wants to be a superpower – and Poland endorses that aim – it has to be able to exercise influence in its own neighbourhood”.

Thomas Renard, Senior Research Fellow at Egmont and Consultant to GoGS, underscores this: “Of course the EU has to establish itself as a power in its own region if it wants to be a global power”.

Complete story at - The Greanville Post • Vol. IX | The Long Arm of the EU: the Association Agreement and Expansionist Policies

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