A New Geopolitical Perspective for the European Union

Focus By Maria M ercedes Introini*


The referendum for Brexit has represented a paradoxical act of anti-democracy as the people were ‘induced to vote’ for Leave while in reality there were no measures of the consequences.

A complex international framework of multiple level of crises shape a new perspective for European Union institutions and its leaders; it is a must for moving forward with resilience. It is with respect to that that we must see nationalist movements as a challenge in addressing a new and innovative geopolitical strategy based on integration, institutional reforms, and a reformulation of the traditional concept of sovereignty.

Even as we explore the impact of nationalist movements in Europe, the role of US is imperative in reshaping a new one-on-one relationship. The recent US withdrawal from the Iran Deal marks a new stage for the European Union to act under the new framework. The decision comes after several steps taken by the US administration to impose a strategic line against any attempts of negotiation with Middle East or global agreement. Europe must be committed to respect international agreements in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The SDG16 — Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions — supposes a steady work on peace building as the bulwark in reshaping of institutions and their own fair relationships with their partners. It is in this context that SDG17 Partnership acquires a new dimension that must be taken into account by the EU with respect to their political relations.

As clearly identified by the EU leaders, US is not a partner anymore; although we could expect that in a few specific situations it would be possible to reach a bilateral agreement, but nothing beyond that.

An isolationist strategy focused on overlooking international agreements with the slogan of “America First” is not in line with the European and global perspective under the framework of a revolutionary focus marked by the SDGs.

The EU must lead a new process by integrating with more countries and building new bridges with Asia, Africa, and Latin America in an attempt to implement the SDGs on a global scale. For achieving these goals, an innovation in diplomatic strategies is a must and a new framework of cooperation and international relations vis-a-vis the current predominant role of US.

The agenda is more than evident and if the US decides to turn their back to the rest of the world, the international community should not accompany the selfish notion with violation of international agreements and a complete breakaway from global institutions and legal framework.

The above conclusions need to be seen in the light of current instability within Europe and the marked trend towards nationalism and fracture. Brexit was the first sign, although it is very interesting to analyse how and why “Leave” voters are switching dramatically and becoming “Remain” voters.

Catalonia is at a different stage altogether since it is not nationalist agenda that is taking over the entire country and imposing its rules. It is a matter of decades of corruption and their anti-monarchy position. Catalans also blame the institution for the status quo, lack of transparency and accountability, in addition to arms sale to Saudi Arabia. Catalonia crisis is more against Spanish Nationalism than their own will for becoming independent.

Thus, it’s very important to settle the differences of nationalist movements to be able to find solutions within a flexible and democratic framework. Indeed, steps such as Brexit have exposed the persuasiveness of political leaders. Here are some of the promises made from Brexit leaders during campaign:

“Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350m per week’ – Boris Johnson

“Getting out of the EU can be quick and easy – the UK holds most of the cards” John Redwood.

“I believe that we can get a free trade and customs agreement concluded before March 2019” David Davis.

However, there had not been a strategic agenda and as a result, all 27 leaders believe Theresa May´s Brexit trade plane will not work.i This is a hard conclusion that implies that there must be reshaping in the very nature of Brexit. It is not only a matter of lack of accountability and biased message from Leave leaders during campaign, but of the proposal itself that lacks vision and viable alternatives.

The referendum for Brexit has represented a paradoxical act of anti-democracy as the people were ‘induced to vote’ for Leave while in reality there were no measures of the consequences. Now, these voters are switching to Remain because they have started becoming aware of the irresponsibilities of their leaders — basing the campaign on hate and assigning responsibility to the European Union for local mismanagement.

The failure of negotiations with the European Union due to a lack of strategic alternatives naturally leads to a second referendum in which there is a high probability that Brexit could be reverted.

Indeed, the time has come to realise that not only the initial idea was ill planned by the leaders but also it is not what people really want. This new development comes after the incapacity of Brexit leaders to be accountable, their ineffectiveness at finding solutions, and therefore, the consequent rejection from Leave voters. To go ahead with the process irrespective of the voters would be an extreme act of demagogue. It is for this reason that opposition leaders such as J. Corbyn are asking for a second referendum. Instead, the Government is drawing up a contingency plan for General Election in November.

Europe cannot ignore these circumstances, including the fact that the main donors from the Remain campaign come from hedge funds that have a particular interest on getting rid of the ‘ties’ that European regulation and control represent.

Italy has also made some steps towards an exit, which could be seen as a nationalist movement as well. However, there had never been such a feeling in Italy — the country has historically been merged pacifically within Europe. The terrible financial crisis, corruption, and above all, migration crisis have saturated Italian capacities and resources, thereby making 'nationalism’ a way out for their frustrating situation.

On the other hand, the case of Ireland might be seen by some as nationalist move as Brexit has fuelled the Irish to move towards Independence. However, we need to examine each case on its own merit to reach a rational conclusion — whether nationalist threats have been made by Irish citizens actually wanting independence or if it is just a way to express their frustration with the failures of London.

Europe needs to build bridges, and not just around the evolving Union, but with a firm exercise of negotiation, diplomacy, mediation, and a close follow up of the processes to make sure that the majority of the citizens achieve their goals within the Rule of Law. It is important to highlight that most of these processes are not contemplated by law but are open to be a part of a reform nonetheless.

Hence, now the reshaping of global institutions, particularly the European Union, becomes paramount. A total decentralisation of the bureaucratic apparatus created by the European Union becomes essential for gaining trust, confidence, and credibility from European citizensii. This can be done by going to the roots of its own philosophy — “the citizens’ will to belong and remain united”. Therein lies the legitimacy, strength, and power of the structure to continue moving forward and to lead a process wherein they need to look for new partners within a brand new global order.

The key for addressing nationalisms within a seamless integration is the essence of Partnerships; SDG17 represents the goal that needs to be addressed urgently. In this case, political innovation and a new leadership would boost a feeling of acceptance and unity within diversityiii.

New innovative bridges should be built wherein new perspectives and agreements would focus towards integrating nationalism as just one more challenge causing a new wave in geopolitical relations — relations that would stabilise, and not to break the region into a chaotic puzzle of confronting pieces. With or without nationalisms, the best struggles and successes comes from integration, institutional reforms, innovative leadership, and reshaping of traditional sovereignty concepts.





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