The recent visit of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell to Moscow and its aftermath has shown how immature EU foreign policy still is. The EU needs to learn from this affair to start rebuilding a foreign policy consensus and overcome costly divisions. The start of a new U.S. administration, the departure of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel from the scene, and the European Commission’s Strategic Compass project provide opportunities to do so.
Borrell’s failed trip to Moscow was only the most recent wake-up call for the EU. It allowed Russia to humiliate the foreign policy chief, question the reliability of the EU, and even its partnership with the United States. However, the reactions across the EU were telling. Instead of focusing on the need for building something anew, the knives were out in the European Parliament and elsewhere against Borrell. For some, the trip was his personal mistake. Others raised the possibility of a different policy toward Russia to finding common ground with it on selected issues. However, the performance of the high representative is just a symptom of the current EU foreign policy crisis.
Borrell’s mandate for the trip was weak. One group of member states either did not want him to go to Moscow at all or, if he did, to carry a very strong democracy and human rights message. This was fulfilled only partially because there was nobody to listen on the Russian side. Other member states wanted to find out the limits of possible selective engagement with Russia. For both sides, Borrell was a messenger. Yet, once the trip failed to meet expectations, there was suddenly nobody to defend it.
The Biden administration’s efforts are often seen through the lens of attempting to counteract some of the policies of Trump administration before him. However, in terms of China policy, David Hutt of the World Politics Review argues that there remains much to build upon.
In making the case, Hutt drew from MapInfluenCE’s groundbreaking research paper entitled “Central Europe for Sale: The Politics of China’s Influence.”
To read the full MapInfluenCE paper, click here.
To read Hutt’s take on transatlantic relations vis a vis China, click here.
The nascent Biden administration has been eager to reconstruct an alliance of Western democracies to counter China. However, Beijing has not been keen to sit idly by as this aim is embarked upon, with particular speed to gain ground as the Biden administration just gets its footing.
Still, the overtures of Beijing to CEE nations in particular has not been entirely successful in counteracting longstanding transatlantic links.
Ivana Karaskova commented on the dynamic, with reference to the Hong Kong protests, Xinjiang issue, and COVID-19 among the reasons CEE nations are not warming up to China more.