This article is the English version of: Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, « L’Union européenne, entre États-Unis et Chine », published in Politique étrangère, Vol. 86, Issue 3, 2021.
The European Union (EU) has long aspired to a stronger and more coherent foreign and security policy. With the Lisbon Treaty, it upgraded the position of High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and created a new diplomatic service, the European External Action Service (EEAS) to help it achieve this objective. Although progress has been made in a number of areas, including in defense cooperation, the EU is still far from having a unified, coherent and effective external policy, while the departure of the United Kingdom has diminished its economic, political and military weight.
However, as the international environment has drastically changed, awareness of the need for Europe to be able to act more autonomously and decisively has risen substantially in recent years. The instability in the EU’s neighborhood has been aggravated by Russia’s aggressive policies, while the challenges resulting from China’s rise became increasingly apparent. At the same time, American unilateralism under President Trump severely undermined confidence in the transatlantic alliance.
As a result of these developments, Europeans came to realize that they had to rely on their own strength to defend their values and interests, to become strategically autonomous and to think and act geopolitically – to use the language recently developed by European leaders. In this context, High Representative Josep Borrell talked about Europe having to learn the language of power. This is new territory for a union whose founding principles aim at overcoming power politics through the pooling of national sovereignty and the establishment of a rules-based system, and which has traditionally defined its external action as an extension of these principles…
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