Europe must become a global political power
The writer is French Minister of State in charge of Europe
Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine is shaking the EU, accelerating its evolution into a full-fledged sovereign political power, complementing its existing economic might.
The EU has become more powerful through several crises. “Economic Europe” has evolved into a strong and stable single currency, making the devaluations of the era of flexible exchange rate systems a distant memory. And since the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, the bloc has also strengthened its financial system and monetary tools.
More recently, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the EU has developed convergent economic structures and common fiscal capacity. It also pools the purchase of vaccines and lays the foundations for a “Europe of health”. And now, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, beyond the swift implementation of sanctions against Moscow, the EU has taken concrete action in four areas.
First, “the Europe of defence”. The EU is acquiring a new dimension in defence. Following the Versailles Summit in March, the EU has reinforced, improved and coordinated national and European investments in defense capabilities. It has also put in place common funding initiatives such as the European Defense Fund and a new organizational structure to respond to cyber risks. The referendum vote in June in favor of Denmark joining the European defense policy is a sign of this accelerating dynamic.
Second, “the Europe of industrial sovereignty”, centered on the energy, digital and industrial sectors. In the months to come, Europe will continue to drastically reduce its energy dependence on Russia through coordinated energy savings, as approved by the Council of the EU at the end of July, the diversification supplies and solidarity mechanisms based on the energy needs of each Member State. .
This will begin to make the Energy Union a tangible reality. But this is only the beginning. The accelerated energy transition strategy, adopted in June, will be essential to ensure the lasting establishment of European energy sovereignty.
Moreover, thanks in part to Next Generation EU, the 750 billion euro financing program launched in the wake of the Covid crisis, pan-European programs are also building strong capacities in the areas of digital, health, hydrogen and semiconductors.
To help support the large-scale investments needed in these defense and industrial plans, EU fiscal rules must evolve, as Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron argued in December. .
Thirdly, “the Europe of democracy”. The EU will continue to affirm its identity as a democratic power firmly rooted in the rule of law. There is and never will be any compromise or leniency towards those, both in Europe and outside, who seek to interfere with the freedom and integrity of our electoral processes, our systems of independent and impartial judiciary or the fight against corruption.
Finally, there is “Europe as a geopolitical power”. The EU must become an anchor of stability for the entire European continent. There can be no half measures amid Russia’s Hybrid War: its imperialist war in Ukraine and its use of energy and food as weapons to destabilize the entire world.
It is in this context that we must understand the historic step of granting candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, the recognition of the European perspective in Georgia, as well as the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. The EU must anchor the Western Balkans in the European family, to which they belong geographically, historically and culturally.
We are not naïve: we know that the EU needs to reform in order to function effectively and efficiently in an enlarged Europe. This concerns institutional governance, as well as decision-making, such as questioning the rule of unanimity and qualified majority voting in certain areas of the common European security policy, or in tax matters.
This is the goal of the European Political Community proposed by Macron: to consolidate European stability through cooperation in foreign and security policy, and interconnections in trade, research and education.
Jean Monnet, one of the first architects of European integration, declared: “Europe will be forged in crises and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for these crises”. Russia’s attack on Ukraine and European values has made Europe’s transformation into a global political power an urgent collective priority for all of us.