Is Europe really a continent in decline?
What kind of foreign policy can such a continent pursue?
3rd Vienna Seminar
25-26 November 2010
Today's debate on the future of the European Union in general, and its emerging common foreign policy in particular, takes place against a background of a number of serious anxieties.
There is the fallout from the global economic crisis; there is the Euro-crisis of confidence; there are bitter debates about social and demographic change, and European Islam, in important EU member states; there is continued enlargement scepticism in key European capitals. There is thus a possibility that two of the most important legacies of Europe's Balkan failures in the 1990s – a belief in the value of "enlargement" as opposed to containment in foreign policy, and support for the concept of "humanitarian intervention" and the "responsibility to protect" – might be delegitimized by this new pessimism on the one hand, and very real failures (for instance in Afghanistan) on the other.
Against this background some see today's EU, six years after its big Central European enlargement, already losing again whatever ambition it developed after 1999 to either reshape its own neighbourhood in the East and South East or to promote its values globally. In this view the emerging new EU would at best provide an institutional roof for an aging, complacent continent, a declining power, where voters are most worried about preserving their gains and fearful of any change. Such a continent, sometimes caricatured as a neutralist "big Switzerland", will not only cease to enlarge further but will also fail to develop its own ideas concerning the future of humanitarian interventions. Such an EU would obviously not pursue an ambitious foreign policy based on any serious conviction in its own values.
But is this view not in fact also a caricature? And is there not a risk that talk about "decline" turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy? After all, the present moment also offers hopes for a realistic but effective European foreign policy which never existed before.
Few continents have changed more in the past 20 years than the "old" continent. No other continent has seen the creation of so many new states (and borders) only to see them dismantled as a new trans-european border revolution takes hold. Not since Roman days has it been so easy to travel from Romania to Spain in one new continental Union.
There is no time in history when war on the European continent was as unlikely. Today's Europe has overcome the legacies of the Cold War and the disastrous and costly failures which tied down a huge number of troops and resources in the Balkans. In Europe's East and South East, from Albania and Turkey to Moldova and Georgia, the challenges the EU faces are now of such a nature that the transformative tools required are also the ones at the EU's disposal. The crisis over Europe's constitutional design, which consumed so much energy, particularly after 2005, is behind us and the Lisbon treaty is being implemented. And finally, the worst of the current economic crisis seems to be behind a large part of the European continent.
So what can we realistically expect from the European Union's foreign policy, post-Lisbon? How are domestic political concerns about unwanted change and decline going to shape the ambitions of the EU? Where are the opportunities for real impact in the coming years?
Rumeli Observer: Europe in decline. Sit back and enjoy (but not too much) (15 December 2010)
Rainer Münz, a leading demographer and member of the EU Reflection Group, reflected on the relevance of the conclusions of this group for future EU foreign policy. Mark Leonard explored how the theses in his 2005 book "Why Europe will run the 21st century" look from the distance of five years. Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel bogar, the director of Serbia's EU Integration Office Milica Delević, and MEP Emine Bozkurt discussed where EU foreign policy can make most difference today. Kai Strittmatter, correspondent of Süddeutsche Zeitung in Istanbul, and Alexandros Yannis from the cabinet of Catherine Ashton, examined the track record of EU soft power in Turkey. Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Nicu Popescu, Senior Advisor of the Prime Minister of Moldova, and Heather Grabbe, Director of the Open Society Institute in Brussels, discussed what soft power might achieve in the European neighbourhood. Rory Stewart, Minna Järvenpää, Miroslav Lajčák and Gerald Knaus spoke on the future of state building missions, humanitarian interventions and the implications of lessons we learned in the past two decades for future European foreign policy. The debate was introduced by Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, CEO of ERSTE Group Andreas Treichl and Greek political adviser Alex Rondos.
The proven format of the annual Vienna seminar allows a small, high level group of committed Europeans to explore these issues, and to generate some answers to the wider questions facing an emerging European foreign policy.
Music opening 1: Paul Schubert, "Leafs"
Boris Marte – Member of the Board, ERSTE Foundation
Peter Hagen – Deputy General Manager, Vienna Insurance Group
Erhard Busek – Chairman of the Advisory Board, ERSTE Foundation
Music opening 2: Paul Schubert, "Ode to Joy"
Video Intervention 1: Erzen Shkololli, "Hey Europe"
Michael Spindelegger – Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Andreas Treichl – CEO, Erste Group Bank AG
Alex Rondos – Political adviser, Athens
European Soft Power and the future of the Eurosphere revisited
Gerald Knaus – Chairman, European Stability Initiative, Istanbul
Rainer Münz – Member of EU Reflection Group, Vienna
Mark Leonard – Director, European Council on Foreign Relations, London
"The diagnosis is clear: Our society is ageing, because life expectancy is rising. And while that presents each one of us with the opportunity of a longer life, in sum it means ever more old people. This development will shape the coming fifty years. But we are not only living longer, but are also having on average fewer children than all the generations before us. As a result, the number of young is shrinking. Primary schools are already being closed. Secondary schools will be hit next. After that, the number of young people and young adults entering working life with fresh knowledge will fall. That means that a significant ageing and possible shrinking of the employed population is imminent. This will affect business just as much as public services. At the same time, the emphasis in general will shift from the young to the old. The number of over-sixties will double by 2050, the number of those over 80 even triple."
"Our findings are reassuring neither to the Union nor to our citizens: a global economic crisis; States coming to the rescue of banks; ageing populations threatening the competitiveness of our economies and the sustainability of our social models; downward pressure on costs and wages; the challenges of climate change and increasing energy dependence; and the Eastward shift in the global distribution of production and savings. And on top of this, the threats of terrorism, organised crime and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction hang over us.
Will the EU be able to maintain and increase its level of prosperity in this changing world? Will it be able to promote and defend Europe's values and interests? Our answer is positive. The EU can be an agent of change in the world, a trend-setter, and not just a passive witness. But this will only be possible if we work together; the challenges ahead are too large for any European country to address on their own. Our ability to influence developments beyond our borders will in turn depend on our capacity to secure solid growth and internal cohesion within the Union. This is the conclusion reached by our Reflection Group, following intensive deliberations and consultations with numerous experts and institutions.
All our members agree on one fundamental issue: Europe is currently at a turning point in its history."
Where can EU foreign policy make a real difference? How?
Milica Delević – Director, EU Integration Office of Serbia, Belgrade
Samuel bogar – Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ljubljana
Emine Bozkurt – MEP, Brussels/The Hague
Video Intervention 2: Pavel Braila, "Kick Off"
European soft power and the European neighbourhood
Nicu Popescu – Adviser to Moldovan PM Filat, Chisinau
Ivan Krastev – Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia/Vienna
Heather Grabbe – Director, Open Society Institute, Brussels
EU soft power and the Turkish challenge
Kai Strittmatter – Süddeutsche Zeitung, Istanbul
Alexandros Yannis – Cabinet of Catherine Ashton, Brussels
The future of liberal imperialism and European foreign policy
Is Afghanistan still the graveyard of Empires?
Rory Stewart – author of New York Times best-seller The Places in Between, Member of the House of Commons
Can Intervention Work?
Gerald Knaus – ESI, Fellow at Carr Center/Harvard
Minna Järvenpää – former UNMIK mayor of Mitrovica (Kosovo), former head of Analysis and Planning at UNAMA Mission Afghanistan
Miroslav Lajčák – former Slovak Foreign Minister and former High Representative and EUSR in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Introduction and moderation
Gerald Knaus - Chairman ESI / Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Kennedy School/Harvard. Previously Office of the High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina; former director of EU-UNMIK Lessons Learned and Analysis Unit in Kosovo.
From Afghanistan to Southern Iraq - observations on state building and intervention (Slide Presentation)
Rory Stewart - Member of the House of Commons, author of New York Times bestseller The Places in between (on his walk across Afghanistan) and The Prince of the Marshes (on his time as Deputy Governor of Amarah in Southern Iraq).
Sarajevo, Mitrovica, Kabul - what have we learned?
Minna Jarvenpaa - Former Head of Analysis, UNAMA mission, Kabul; worked on Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia for the British Government's Stabilisation Unit; former Senior Advisor to Nobel Prize Winner Martti Ahtisaari; Strategy Advisor to the UN SRSG in Kosovo; municipal administrator in Mitrovica; former member of Office of the High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina
A European way of intervention? - Lessons for future EU foreign policy
Miroslav Lajcak - Former Foreign Minister of Slovakia; Former High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Former Special Envoy of Javier Solana to Montenegro; former Ambassador of Slovakia to Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro; Albania and Macedonia.