POLICY PAPER: In this low cycle in transatlantic unity, the determinants of improvement are known: can the EU and US deliver?
Martin Michelot authored a new policy paper on the transatlantic relations as part of our project Transatlantic Policy Forum (TAPF).
- Dynamics in the main agendas of the transatlantic relationship in the last year seem to have been, from a public perspective, relatively lacking in positive messaging. On issues of the relationship with Russia or with China, or within the framework of NATO, or on international trade, there have been few stories that can accredit significant progress being made in 2019, bar for the speech given by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels early September calling for a “reset” with the incoming leadership of the European Union.
- This was mirrored, on the EU side, by High Representative-nominate Josep Borrell stating his desire for a reset of transatlantic relations, which he already discussed with Secretary Pompeo. This contrasted with the more aggressive speech from December 2018, where Secretary Pompeo openly questioned whether the EU is able to place the interest of its member states and citizens before those of the “bureaucrats” that compose it.
The main question now concerns the basis on which the transatlantic relationship will rebuild itself in the next year, and whether the break in trust, symbolized most recently by the American decision to withdraw its troops from Northern Syria, will push the Europeans to modify their approach to the US but also fine-tune their instruments of power.
At the end, the issue is how the EU can protect itself from being collateral damage on the sidelines of the US-China disagreement. Indeed, the control of the current situation with China goes far beyond trade alone. Each realm of multilateralism must contribute to the establishment of stabilized, tension-reducing relations. This is why it is urgent that China agrees to participate in a comprehensive review of WTO rules on subsidies, intellectual property and technology transfer and opens its market in a non-discriminatory way, and the EU has indicated its willingness to engage with China on these issues.
The EU has therefore woken up, after three years of the Trump presidency, to the multipolar world in which it was pushed in. The rewiring and fine-tuning of its institutions is a priority that it will have to develop in parallel with a speedy increase in defense capabilities, in order to be a credible actor in the current geopolitical situation.
Louis Cox-Brusseau published a policy brief “Inhospitable Climate: Why the V4 Needs to Wake Up on Climate Security”.
- Despite strong indicators that climate change is a growing phenomenon, however, the full impact of a changing climate has not yet been fully understood. In the short-to-mid-term, it seems extremely likely that climate change will contribute indirectly to resource shortages, forced out-migration of peoples from countries particularly susceptible to climate change, and increased political tension and unrest both in countries vulnerable to climate change and in countries affected by climate migration and secondary effects. In the long-term, the threat posed by climate change – even according to conservative estimates – is likely to be existential. Despite the unprecedented capability of modern society to foresee and adapt to emergent issues, however, climate change has stayed a secondary issue – if not wholly off the radar – for some time in public and private fora. It is increasingly clear that reticence to consider the longer-term risks of climate change is no longer a feasible approach and one that smacks of dangerous short-sightedness. Where potential emergent security threats are concerned, even hypothetical risks must be assessed on the basis they might one day develop into real and present dangers. One area in particular where climate change’s impact is far from being fully understood is where climate change intersects with traditional considerations of security, defense, and stability. This nexus – termed climate security for short – is the focus of this paper.
- As an area of policy, in brief, climate security’s raison d’etre is to provide a toolkit for predicting how a changing global climate might create and influence adverse security conditions at local, regional and international levels, with particular consideration given to climate change as a threat multiplier in geographic regions particularly vulnerable to a shifting climate, and how less vulnerable regions might nevertheless be affected by the indirect consequences of climate change. In this sense, as the risks posed by climate change are existential and global, the scope of any study on climate security must be rooted in a broad awareness of climate change’s global consequences. Insofar as possible, this study seeks to focus specifically on one particularly climate-sceptic region in the heart of Europe: the Central European nations comprising the Visegrad Four – the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – or ‘V4’.
The panel discussion titled “The Visegrad Four and Germany: which shared priorities in the next Commission?” took place on Wednesday, 16th October 2019 at the Fondation Universitaire in Brussels. In the light of discussions about the incoming Commission, the event asked the question of whether we will see unity on certain issues between the countries of the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) and Germany.
Mr Roland Freudenstein stated that Visegrad Four countries have been underestimated from the German perspective. He explained the self-appointed role of Germany as a bridge between East and West, which was a very beneficial narrative for Germany itself since it puts Germany in a pivotal but not openly leading role, but he expressed skepticism at the viability of this technique in recent years. His contribution continued by emphasizing a connection between different types of solidarity.