[BLOG] Accidental ECOWAS and AU citizen: Can the European Union (&EEAS) Overcome EU27's Nationalism?
12-12-2012 07:44:35 | by: Administrator | hits: 2205 | Tags:

Emmanuel is unable to bring a topical piece. He brings you an old article written around the time when discussions abounded about the EU’s new European External Action Service in Dec 2010. This article comes from his regional integration blog, and was written in September 2010

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do not foresee any understanding of regionalism as we now know it without an understanding of what the Treaty of Lisbon has come to do with the so-called European External Action Service(EEAS). That the EU has already set up a website speaks less about how organised the EU is, and probably more about how much in a hurry the EU is keen to project its power on the global stage.

When the EU became EU27 a few years ago, Fortress Europe seemed to have been entrenched. Outsiders probably began to see an insular Europe ready to protect its own interests by any means necessary. Now that the Treaty of Lisbon is well and truly in operation for almost a year now, one can speculate that there will be a deeper consolidation of Fortress Europe in many more ways than one could imagine.

My deepest fear is that Europe has resources and, if we are not careful, much of the world will be taken off guard about what the EEAS will do. I do not foresee the EEAS ever supplanting the UN, but probably in many ways, its power-parity with respect to the UN secretary-general will be frightfully closer than one might care to imagine.

These trends notwithstanding, it's curious that nationalism is on the rise in the EU--at least this is according to professor of international affairs at Georgetown University Charles Kupchan

In an article he wrote in August, he posits the idea that "The European Union is dying." He writes:

not a dramatic or sudden death, but one so slow and steady that we may look across the Atlantic one day soon and realize that the project of European integration that we've taken for granted over the past half-century is no more.

 He attributes the decline to an economic issue, saying that because it has affected the economies of many European economies, there have inevitably been cutbacks, forcing some European economies to "claw...back the sovereignty they once willingly sacrificed in pursuit of a collective ideal."

He cites Germany; Britain; Belgium; and France is being the major culprits walking down the path of a renewed nationalism.

On Germany, he writes:

Germany's pursuit of its national interest is crowding out its enthusiasm for the E.U. In one of the few signs of life in the European project, member states last fall embraced the Lisbon Treaty, endowing the union with a presidential post, a foreign policy czar and a diplomatic service. But then Berlin helped select as the E.U.'s president and foreign policy chief Herman van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton, respectively, low-profile individuals who would not threaten the authority of national leaders. Even Germany's courts are putting the brakes on the E.U., last year issuing a ruling that strengthened the national Parliament's sway over European legislation.

On Britain, he continues : "May elections brought to power a coalition dominated by the Conservative Party, which is well known for its Europhobia."

On Belgium: " in July, the E.U.'s rotating presidency fell to Belgium--a country whose Dutch-speaking Flemish citizens and French-speaking Walloons are so divided that, long after elections in June, a workable governing coalition has yet to emerge. It speaks volumes that the country now guiding the European project suffers exactly the kind of nationalist antagonism that the E.U. was created to eliminate"

As for France: " In France, for example, anti-Europe campaigns have focused ire on the E.U.'s "Anglo-Saxon" assault on social welfare and on the "Polish plumber" who takes local jobs because of the open European labor market."

In the final analysis, Kupchan offers a solution: "The E.U.'s rapid enlargement to the east and south has further sapped it of life. Absent the cozy feel the smaller union had before the Berlin Wall came down, its original members have turned inward. The newer members from Central Europe, who have enjoyed full sovereignty only since communism's collapse, are not keen to give it away."

One might get away from this feeling that it has little to do with regional dynamics--far from it!

The impression being given with the growing EEAS is that the EU will come to represent a significant force on the world stage. No-one expects that everything would be easy-sailing, what with 27 members and all, but the jury is clearly out on the implications of the EEAS for regional dynamics and interaction. What will, for example, be the role of the EEAS with regard to the African Union / MERCOSUR / ASEAN / CARICOM/ the ACP?

Most importantly, how does one reconcile the growth of the EEAS with the nationalism Kupchan is talking about? If it is true that Europe needs "new generation of leaders who can breathe life into a project that is perilously close to expiring", then what does that say  about the sustainability of this most ambitious of projects that might well unwittingly alienate European citizens in a way they have not yet been?

And, finally, what will it mean for the UN that has taken the mantle to lead the world away from the scourge of war? Will the EU and its EEAS be as magnanimous on the world stage?

In 2009, in his capacity as a “Do More Talk Less Ambassador” of the 42nd Generation—an NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" (http://www.critiquing-regionalism.orghttp://www.critiquing-regionalism.org ). Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on ekbensah@ekbensah.netekbensah@ekbensah.net  / Mobile: 0268.687.653.

 

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