After more than two decades of relative calm around its borders, since 2010 the European Union has been faced with increased tension in the South of its territory in the wake of the Arab revolutions that occurred in several countries in North Africa. In recent weeks it has also faced tensions in the East as a result of the events that have taken place in Ukraine and the Moscow-supported secession of Crimea. Such a context represents a genuine test of the Union’s capacity to assert itself as a player of substance on the international stage. Is it capable of passing such a test?
This is what Michel Foucher looks to evaluate in this article through an analysis of the EU’s place in the world, its power of influence and the prospects for future development, given the major trends at work in global geopolitics. After reviewing the conditions for the Union’s influence and the scale of that influence, all of which is very much interlinked with the impact of the national interests of the member states, Michel Foucher presents the international context in which the Union will operate in the medium term. This is, admittedly, a more interdependent world, but also a highly uncooperative one. As a result, two lines of action seem indispensable: to respond to the challenges by asserting itself as a real global player on the international scene, and to define shared centres of interest and strategic objectives. On this latter point, Michel Foucher frames a number of crucial strategic recommendations “for getting beyond the [current] discordance between the level of economic interests and that of political action”.