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European International Policy: Its time for the EU to become internationally the most influential player

European International Policy: Its time for the EU to become internationally the most influential player

Its time for the EU to be a power project” … writes the Irish Times today 08/10/2019, “The emerging world order will increasingly be shaped by might, rather than law“… This is so far away from the ideas Franck Biancheri and Newropeans were advocating years ago. It’s time, for the sake of Europe and the world, in this now 20 years old new century to have a completely new approach of the international policy of the EU: “To become internationally the most influential player without wanting to become the most powerful” because “it is the limitation of the power, especially that of the large member states, which allowed the European project to develop itself.“… Read Franck Biancheri, read the programme of Newropeans for the 2009 elections! No it’s not too late and not too old! They offer breath, hope and visions in a world that seems to be crumbling under weapons and wars: [Newropeans] Programme for a European International Policy: influential not powerful (published on 02/10/2008)

[Newropeans] Programme for a European International Policy: influential not powerful

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Together with the Newropeans the citizens of Europe are defining the role of the EU internationally for the next two decades. With this programme the Newropeans are the first political strength of the EU, which has democratically defined a concrete vision for the future European international policy and will present this vision to all 27 member states. Of course this future vision, just like the Newropeans project itself, should be understood in the context of the next 20 years. As in a world which is constantly changing it is an illusion to think that any developments and resulting decisions made will suffice for future generations. We have come to the conclusion that a growing amount of Europeans would like to see a clear defined role of the EU within the global community. In spite of this the leading politicians of the EU as well as the national political parties are incapable of offering clear answers. The Newropeans, on the other hand, have capably shown that the only possible way forward to define the future role of the EU is through European wide democratic discussion. To this programme belong also the last decisions adpted by the members about EU neighborhood policy, namely the Israel/Palestine conflict….

This text will be presented to the electorate at the next European election in June 2009. The text’s orientation is the basis for all decisions and voting of Newropean candidates for the European parliament (EP).

Newropeans is the only trans-European political movement which involves its members directly into the development of its programme and in the major political positions it takes. Discussions and votes are held during our Annual Assembly, Newropeans’ Agora, and on our intranet – which has become a testing ground for the future European online democracy. Until the elections to the European Parliament in 2009, Newropeans will develop a full programme including the future shape of a democratised European Union as well as outlines for the major policy fields the EU should be active in. The guideline for reflection on all these issues is how to enable 500 million citizens in 27 countries and of a multitude of cultural and linguistic backgrounds take democratic and efficient decisions together.

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2-10-2008 Newropeans

With this programme the Newropeans are the first political strength of the EU, which has democratically defined a concrete vision for the future European international policy and will present this vision to all 27 member states. Of course this future vision, just like the Newropeans project itself, should be understood in the context of the next 20 years. As in a world which is constantly changing it is an illusion to think that any developments and resulting decisions made will suffice for future generations. We have come to the conclusion that a growing amount of Europeans would like to see a clear defined role of the EU within the global community. In spite of this the leading politicians of the EU as well as the national political parties are incapable of offering clear answers. The Newropeans, on the other hand, have capably shown that the only possible way forward to define the future role of the EU is through European wide democratic discussion. To this programme belong also the last decisions adopted by Newropeans about EU Neighbourhood Policy, namely the European Strategy for the Stabilization of Israel-Palestine (2009-2024).

I – The five main features of European international policy:

1. The international policy of the EU – a completely new approach: To become internationally the most influential player without wanting to become the most powerful.

The success of the European integration project, which began after the second world war is due to, first and foremost, a historical and future orientated decision of the „founding fathers“. They decided to limit the vigour of the progression of the Europeans who carried out two suicidal wars within a short period of time and to create a new European order based on dialog, compromise and rights and the shared responsibility for wealth and problems. It is the limitation of the power, especially that of the large member states, which allowed the European project to develop itself.

Newropeans think that a comparable approach, with which the European experience can share with the rest of the world, can be used to carry out the international policy of the EU in the coming decades.

The way forward “is to become the most influential player worldwide without claiming to be the most powerful“. We have to limit our power internationally to legitimating our influence where necessary and to motivate our partners to follow the same path as ourselves..

This approach is neither political utopia (in any case no more so than 50 years ago creating a common market) or purely theoretical. Everybody knows the dangers and consequences of the misuse of power in the ever more complicated world of the 21 century. This global, networked, densely populated world with its realistic and growing dangers (climate, health….) can not be governed in the same way as the world was governed in the last century without future generations having to pay the terrible price for this. On the contrary, the Newropeans think we need the courage to create a whole new approach to be able to support international relationships to create a new world politics and to ask the Europeans if they want to realize this approach: In the whole of world history the only power which lasted was the power which exemplified.. This is also the case in international relationships and can be seen in the European integration project and other continents which have followed suite.

Newropeans calls this kind of politics “international policy” and not „foreign policy“ because the ideas of „foreign policies“ are in the world of the 21 century antiquated. It gives the European citizens and politicians the false impression that we can take care of the problems of the rest of the world without relating them to what is going on within the EU. The EU is a political entity with 500 million citizens, which consists of peoples with more than 25 different languages and who belong to different cultural and religious groups worldwide.

The EU is the central economic and trading place of the earth. In this respect any issues cannot be understood as „external“. This however results in the necessity to get involved on an international level either working directly together with different regions and states or indirectly via multilateral institutions or projects.

2. Joint European values toward serving a better world:

Because the EU is anchored within the world it is normal for the citizens to wish for politics which go toward creating a better world. It is necessary to promote European values and aims which are at the centre of the European integration project and promoted by the Newropeans: Peace, Freedom, Solidarity, shared prosperity, sustainable development, international constitutional state, human rights,   democratising of the institutions..

3. International politics of the EU under democratic control:

Newropeans believes that the international politics of the EU can only be effective and legitimate when they are based on the pillars of democratic processes, this means:

  • Transparent decision making in regard to the stipulations of international politics of the European Union, including international trading politics, and especially the EU positions regarding the decision making bodies of the large multi-lateral institutions (UNO, WTO, International Monetary Funds, World bank,…);

  • An annual debate in the EP regarding practices of European Foreign Policy of the coming years and subsequent ballot with qualified majority. These practices would be initially submitted to the EP by the present highest authority for joint foreign and defence politics at a later stage by the minister of international affairs in the European Parliament;

  • Voting of the EP on every Mission of European troops. This measure can only be adapted once a joint defence policy has been agreed upon, which defines the military structures of European politics. Newropeans will open the debate on this in the II quarter of 2007. In the meantime Newropeans recommends a voting of the European council with a simple majority concerning military missions within a multilateral framework (EU or NATO);

  • A trans-European referendum with a double majority (majority of European citizens and majority of the member states) to decide upon any future EU enlargement. This process shall ensure that the European citizens can directly and indirectly influence the complete practices of European international politics – and not short sighted national interest groups, private lobbies or external European influences, which all stand in contradiction to the aims of democratising the central points of the political project of the Newropeans.

4. Efficient enforcement of common European interests:

In most domains (law, trade, development, currency, safety, defence) the EU has become an institution that represents the common interests of all its members. It is in the interest of all the 500 million citizens within the EU to make sure that the international political aims be clearly defined and simultaneously implemented so that they can profit from the EU’s diplomatic weight. This kind of control by EU citizens is possible mainly through annual votes and debates on the EU’s international politics and through the European elections, where the candidating parties present options concerning Europe’s global role. The advancement of common European interests requires each member-state to adhere to common targets in the key domains (law, trade, development, currency, safety, defence). Irrespective of the procedures within the EU institutions, the national and European elections are the best means for European citizens to ensure that politicians do not favour short term national interests or submit to external- European interests.

5. An International policy which respects vital national interests:

It must be in Europe’s common interest to respect and integrate the vital interests of its member states. This is essential for the balance between uniformity and diversity as without this balance the process of European integration would not be possible. The present lack of long-term international visions is one reason why many European citizens are afraid that their vital national interests will be ignored in an EU incapable of replacing these by common aims.

Newropeans is convinced that, firstly, confidence has to be restored in the EU’s ability to promote common interests. At the same time the protection of vital national interests of all member states must be secured before a truly common international policy (based on qualified Majority voting) can be implemented.

Within the domain of International Policy it is the EU’s task in the coming decade (2009 -2019) to analyze precisely what the vital interests of each member state are and to grant them veto rights in decisions on International EU Policies. In accordance with the guidelines of International Policy, Newropeans propose the transition from veto rights to qualified majority voting from 2019 onwards (or indeed earlier, if the citizens’ confidence has grown.)

The interests of all Europeans in the realm of international relations are increasingly converging, thus reducing the likelihood of dissent. Consequently, in order to prevent a decision-making blockage ( particularly if a government decides to play the national card to win popularity)-which would be damaging for all Europeans- each state has to lay down a maximum of two vital national interests for the period from now until 2019. These national interests have to be confirmed by a parliamentary vote in order to be accepted by the EU. Decisions in the domain of International Policy, other than those vital national interests laid down in advance, will be decided by a double simple majority (majority of European Parliament and majority of member-states).

By implementing this procedure, which systematically renders citizen control over basic decisions in EU International Policy, including those decisions made on a national basis, Newropeans strive to promote the democratisation of the EU. 

II – EU’s International Policy Goals:

1. Protect common vital interests: developing of strategical partnerships- USA/Russia/Turkey/Japan, China/India

In the coming decades some states (USA/Russia/Turkey/Japan/China/India) will have considerable influence on factors directly concerning the EU. It is in the EU’s interest to develop “Strategical partnerships” with these states, rather than have its individual member states develop special relations by numerous bilateral agreements. Strategic Partnerships will mean a new direction in European Policy, combining the co-operation in many sectors and covering many questions.: security, human resources, energy, technology and development, and trade. Other areas (culture, national law) would remain the pursuit of the member states. In the case of the USA and Turkey these strategic partnerships may require a fundamentally new definition of the relations that have evolved over several decades. The EU for example has to work towards a new definition of NATO as an organization of cooperation between North America and the EU that rests (in all its structures) on two pillars: a Northern American and European. Because this would mean a sole European representation, direct participation of individual EU member-states in Nato’s decision-making would thus be unnecessary.

If we take the analogy of an airplane, the strategic partnerships of the EU require a cockpit, a hull, engines and wings.

1. Cockpit: a political leadership which involves the executive, the EP and the government of the partner state;

2. Hull: an infrastructure composed of public and institutional representatives particularly the Foreign Ministries of the member-states and the EU;

3. Engine: a (specific) drive resulting from economic, financial, military and scientific exchange;

4. The wings: medium – and long term exchange programmes between universities and cooperation between NGOs and communities as aerofoils. This component must be able to survive possible political turbulence.

Turkey: To end the political and democratic stalemate of Turkey’s bid for membership an alternative form of cooperation is needed immediately, recognizing Turkey’s importance to the EU. The EU has to develop a strategical partnership with Turkey, based on the model that is being developed with the USA, China, Japan and India. This would send a clear signal to Turkey.

The development of these Strategic Partnerships must become one of the central points of the annual debate and votes in the EP concerning EU’s International Policy.

For the other states in question the process has to be instigated asap, possibly following the model of special relations, which is evolving with Russia.

2. Ensuring that EU’s immediate neighbours participate in its wealth: implementing a policy of privileged neighbourhood (Belarus-Ukraine-Caucasus-Middle East_Northern Africa)

The EU can demonstrate its capability of developing a novel international policy-(exerting influence without the use of force) -in relation to its direct neighbours, beyond the strategic partners Russia and Turkey. The EU needs to create equal relationships between states of extremely different sizes and power. In relation to its direct neighbours the EU can prove that it is indeed pursuing a new policy; one not directed towards annexation or control, but willing to share its wealth, democracy and peace. And it is this policy that will enable the EU to break the vicious circle of endless expansion.

The EU as a political entity cannot claim to embody European Identity. In order to establish this kind of relationship with its neighbours, it has to be based upon the Council of Europe, which is the only institution embodying European identity and values. This neighbourhood policy cannot succeed before the EU has established positive collaboration in economy, trade, social and strategic matters with its neighbours. Simultaneously the EU has to strengthen the Council of Europe by granting it substantial financial means so that it can open itself to all neighbour states and to promote its activities in the field of education, law, and politics. First and foremost, it is namely with the help of the Council of Europe, an open area of cooperation, that the protection of human rights and democracy will spread efficiently around the EU.

At the same time the EU has to actively link these countries with the common market and the Euro, of which they are becoming ever more dependent on. This process however has to be combined with the process of leading these other countries closer to the European Council and its democratic and legal standards.

3. Organising the foundations for a global sustainable government for the 21st century: developing structured partnerships (Africa-AU, Latin America-Mercosur, Asia-Asean)

Beyond its closest neighbourhood, the EU must contribute actively to the success of the attempts of regional integration which are developing on many continents like Africa (African Union), Latin America (Mercosur) and Asia (Asean).

The European Union is the oldest and most advanced integration as yet. Therefore, the EU has a moral duty to offer technical and political assistance towards the efforts of integration of other regions of the world in order to allow them to overcome the national divides and to gain a larger internal prosperity and a wider external influence. It is of direct political interest for the EU as well to witness the development of other entities sharing the same double constraint of unity and diversity. Within this lies the greatest global challenge of the 21st century.

Finally, the European Union has to contribute to the struggle against the fragmentation of the basis of the United Nations system and establish a new legitimacy of the international action, by facilitating the rising of a new base composed of wide regions and integrated continents.

This regionalisation process characterises the 21st century.

The integration of the Arab World in this process constitutes a major challenge. The EU must be ready to contribute actively to face this challenge since it is today the only one able to bring moral, political and technical support to the dream of Arab unity. This dream of Arab unity was interrupted in the fifties at the very moment when the Europeans engaged in their own common adventure. The dream of Arab unity is yet the only one able to oppose efficiently the dream of Muslim unity which is claimed by the extremists of the region of the world.

This question, Arab unity or Muslim unity, will be one of the core questions of the next decade of international relations; and it has a direct impact in the EU itself. The Europeans must therefore make it a priority and offer the Arabs help to revive the common Arab dream, concentrating on the logic of democracy and peace. It is a long-drawn-out task, but not more ambitious than that of the Americans accomplished after 1945 in order to try and solve, once and for all, the issue of the intra-European wars which poisoned the first half of the 20th century. By acknowledging the complexity of a task and its difficulty, and by accepting to face the challenge, a political project gives an insight of its value, and get stronger. It is a matter of ambition commensurate with the common political project and its 500 millions citizens.

4. Reorganising the international institutions (UN, WTO, …)/ Reinforcing the efficiency of the multilateral fight against the trans-national threats: improving the trans-national decision making and action modes (fight against organised crime, poverty, epidemics, pollution, …)

The global government of the 21st century must at any cost avoid returning to the “international law of the jungle”. The Europeans must contribute in a decisive way to found the international law on a global society able to have it enforced. The European Union must contribute to reorganise the United Nations system whose base is increasingly fragmenting with 4 times more member States in 50 years.

The EU itself must aim to speak with a single voice, and set an example of the regionalisation of the fundamental UN actors. Only by progressively bringing closer the size of the political actors on the basis of the UN functioning, will the global system be able to aim towards a more democratic functioning. The EU member States are getting increasingly conscious of the lack of efficiency of the international institutions at the hands of the great planetary challenges. The EU must therefore contribute to improve the transparency, the quality and the legitimacy of the decisions made in the multilateral frame, while reinforcing the efficiency of the enforced policies.

Newropeans thinks that one of the first steps is to condense the approx. thirty agencies of the Bretton Woods system (UN, IMF, World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP, WTO, FAO, etc…) into about ten organisations. This small number of international organisations should be placed under direct control of an Operational Council, composed of about twenty members (permanent members of the enlarged Security Council for instance). Besides, the EU should gradually substitute its national presence in the international financial and economic organisms by a representation of the Eurogroup which will by 2014 contain almost all the EU member States. Concerning The Security Council, Newropeans recommends a development in two phases mirroring the complex process of the fusion of common and national interests within the EU: from 2009 to 2019, the two member States which currently possess a permanent seat at the UN Security Council must join together to allow a third one enter it: Germany. Likewise, each continent should be represented by two to four permanent members (according to its population).

At the same time, within the EU, the implementation of the common international policy leads naturally to the decisions of the permanent European members of the Security Council which should be discussed beforehand within the common European entreaties (Europeans Executive and Parliament). The objective is to define, when possible, a common position which every European member (permanent or not) will be able to stand for. From 2019, the European Government, recommended by Newropeans, and the European Parliament should delineate the positions of the European members (permanent or not) at the Security Council, would the Europeans have only one permanent seat at the UN or three.

The EU must also clearly state that the fight against terrorism is not a global priority. The fight against terrorism is not only inefficient in the absence of dealing with the causes, among them poverty, but it is also counter-productive because it reinforces distrust, fear and hatred on the whole planet. The growing human and financial resources which are allocated to it would be of better use in fighting against organised crime, poverty, epidemics, pollution, landmines, etc…

III – Instruments for an EU international policy:

1. Putting together diplomatic resources:

For Newropeans, it is obvious that putting together part of our member states’ diplomatic resources is a necessity.

  • On the one hand, even the richest of our countries no longer have sufficient financial resources to finance their entire diplomatic system; an economy of scales is required; 

  • On the other hand, the implementation of a common EU international policy requests the set up of common tools and human resources.

For Newropeans, it is time to restrict intra-EU diplomatic services to institutions with cultural, scientific or consular missions solely. The era of having embassies throughout member states is over and Newropeans will strive to further this trend in the years to come. In the same way, it is important to take a large part of EU policies away from member states’ foreign ministries toward ad hoc administrations placed under the direct responsibility of heads of government. Such a move will enable diplomats to concentrate more on the international policies of the EU as much as of their country, instead of dealing with EU affairs as much as with international affairs.

Thus, the suppression of the 26 intra-EU embassies of each of the 27 member states (702 in total), will unblock significant human and financial means in order to run a proactive and ambitious common diplomacy. Newropeans suggests that half of the money saved here is used to finance the common EU diplomatic body and its instruments.

According to Newropeans, these key instruments are the following:

  • creation of a fixed-term status of European diplomat (10 years maximum), requiring the command of at least three EU languages plus one non-EU language. The limited duration of the position will result in more staff rotation and greater exchange among national diplomats and sectors of activity.

  • creation of a strong training network of diplomacy schools, enabling future diplomats to train in three different EU countries and two non-EU countries. 

  • EU support to the development of « European houses » gathering embassies or consular services in third countries. Such « European houses » could gather only part of EU member states along regional or linguistic affinities (Scandinavia, Latin, Slavish…) or along more political affinities. This in fact is already happening in some third countries with Scandinavian, Franco-German or Franco-British regroupings.

2. Strengthening the role of non-institutional European networks:

For Newropeans, the players who best illustrate the EU’s ambition « to become the most influential while refusing to become the most powerful global player » are those noninstitutional European networks, made up of associations, universities, local authorities, research centres, medias, etc.

Non-institutional European networks have already knitted a very dense web all over the planet thanks to their multiform action. They are the natural and spontaneous vehicles of the EU’s general international political message. Their strength is tangible and based on exemplification, because they gather people living with those whom we want to build lasting international relations with.

However, Newropeans is aware that the activity and utility of these non-institutional networks depend on the reality of their being non-institutional and of their remaining a reflection of the European society’s diversity. Therefore they should not become “auxiliaries” of the diplomacy or the institutions.

For this reason, Newropeans proposes three very tangible key-measures aimed at supporting and developing the momentum provided by these non-institutional networks, while positively balancing the relation between financial backers and non-institutional players:

  • to increase EU and national budgets available for these actions. Part of the money saved from the suppression of intra-EU embassies could be used to that purpose

  • to consult via Internet on a yearly basis all non-institutional partners funded through EU international programmes, in the framework of general evaluations of these programmes. The result of these yearly evaluations will be directly sent to both the common executive and the European Parliament, without any interference on the part of the institutions in charge of the programmes.

  • to develop within the European diplomatic body and the national diplomatic services, common teams in charge of assessing the quality of the action conducted by non-institutional players.

3. An independent common defence:

Besides direct defence of the EU and the security of its citizens, the common EU defence should serve the action of the United Nation in favour of peace, stability and the implementation of international law. On September 3rd the members of Newropeans adopted the programme about European defence policy (NM 18/09/2008).

Download the pdf: [Newropeans] Programme for a European International Policy: influential not powerful (published on 02/10/2008) © Franck Biancheri Documentation & Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri (AAFB)

Today the transeuropean political movement “Newropeans” as it was created by Franck Biancheri in 2000 no longer exists. The archives can be consulted in the frame of the Franck Biancheri Documentation managed by the AAFB (Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri). The AAFB has been created in 2012 after the decease of Franck Biancheri (Oct. 2012) by his direct heirs, and is beside the FJME (Fondation Jean Monnet pour l’Europe) in Lausanne, the unique legitimate structure to keep and publish the works and memories of Franck Biancheri.

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