With the economic and financial crisis on the one hand, and the regional instability caused by the Arab spring on the southern rim of the Mediterranean on the other, Europe finds itself faced with a particularly tricky geopolitical and economic context. Unfortunately, as Jean-François Drevet shows here, the more serious the situation has become, the less the member states of the European Union have provided themselves with the means to confront it jointly and hence, the lower their chances of success would seem to be.
This is attested, in particular, by the Union’s inability to establish a single command structure to manage the operations planned as part of the common defence and security policy, despite the fact that there is a consensus on this in public opinion in the various member states. Whereas the Union has, in theory, an adequate legal basis in this area and the political and technical means to implement it (through the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy), in practice the member states continue to reason on a case-by-case basis in terms of their own interests. Europe is, in fact, very ill-equipped. It cannot depend indefinitely on the Atlantic Alliance to provide its defence and its options are seriously hobbled by the United Kingdom (of which the High Representative, who is supposed to embody the common external policy, is a national).
Above and beyond the concrete security problems potentially present in such a situation, this impasse is emblematic of the current operation of the Union, “dominated by the vagaries of a variable-geometry intergovernmental cooperation” that is still not properly facing up to present and future challenges.