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EU ‘incapable of becoming geopolitical power’ as bloc struggles post-Brexit

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EU 'chosen' not to take on geopolitical role claims Friedman

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The fall of Kabul and the chaotic international evacuation efforts, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has argued, proves that Europe needs to develop its own military capacity independent of the US. On Friday, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that without the protection of the 6,000 US troops deployed at the airport, European operations may have to cease. While the EU has moved to push its diplomatic efforts in the region, it has liittle to no ability to directly affect change.

As events unfolded in Kabul, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, who hosts EU leaders’ summits, tweeted: “The situation in Afghanistan is not a success story for the international community.

“We have to analyse how the EU can further deploy capabilities and positively influence international relations to defend its interests. Our EU strategic autonomy remains at the top of our agenda.”

For Mr Borrell, this must include a deployable joint military reaction force.

He told AFP: “We will propose to give the Union a 50,000-strong expeditionary force, capable of acting in circumstances like we’re seeing in Afghanistan.”

This is in order to end what many have noted: the EU’s lack of any real foothold in global politics.

George Friedman, a Hungarian-born US geopolitical forecaster, previously described Brussels as being “incapable” of becoming a world power.

In a 2019 interview with TRT World – a Turkish national broadcaster – he was asked whether the US was preventing European countries from “going geopolitical”.

He said: “The Europeans are incapable, individually and collectively.

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“They have said that Europe is about making money and being comfortable.

“Well, I wish them well, but they have chosen not to play a role.

“The US has not kept anyone from playing a role.”

The question is one European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and many of her predecessors are all too familiar with.


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In her state of the union speech last year, she spoke of how the coronavirus pandemic had exposed the bloc’s lack of “unity” and “community” in the face of international threats.

She said: “The moment for Europe to lead the way from this fragility towards a new vitality.”

It has been noted that since Brexit, the EU’s voice in international politics has seriously declined.

The US saw the UK as a bridge between itself and Europe, with the Centre for European Reform noting that the EU without the UK could move to sympathise with Russia, relaxing sanctions pushed by the US.

And, this year, Global Counsel, a strategic advisory business, warned: “All member states will feel the impact of Brexit as Europe will lose international esteem and foreign policy influence and have less leverage in trade negotiations.”

Professor Julian Lindley-French, an internationally recognised strategic analyst and advisor in defence, previously told that the tools Ms von der Leyen and the EU had on the global stage were “extremely limited beyond declaratory comments”.

Talking about the outbreak of violence between Israel and Palestine earlier this year, he said: “There is no common and foreign security policy of the EU.

“While some member states do have influence in the Middle East like France and the Italians to some extent, they will not be told what to do by the European Commission.

“It’s a mark of Europe’s contemporary weakness, that Europeans have so little influence over a region in its own backyard strategically.”

He added that Ms von der Leyen was a “marginal, bit-part player” in geopolitics.

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