How we can define the EU in the contemporary world: The EU as a global or framing actor?
EU as a global actor
[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap]n today’s globalized world, it is an arguable question for some analysts, academics, in particular commentators whether the EU is a typical kind of state or empire model carrying dimensions within the international plane. Basically, the EU has massive economic and political leverage that combines the pivotal set of values and norms in order to influence the various parts of the world.
It is undeniable fact that the EU with the rational implementation of economic and political power tries to enforce its different norms and values on other states as well. According to some analysts, the EU is not only an international actor within the international system.
There are some arguments in order to analyze this issue. First of all, in fact, today in global political economy, it can be false to take in account merely the EU as an international actor. In today’s world order, the increasing role of focal business firms, to a large extent, multinational corporations (MNC) or transitional corporations such as Mc Donald, Microsoft, Gazprom, and etc. gives them the opportunities to influence not only economic but also a political life of nation-states beyond boundaries. In a broad term, supranational corporations are not only the agents of member states but also independent and powerful actors. In today’s world, in order to create global governance, it is disputable to talk only about the EU as an international actor, therefore, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations and civic associations in international system can be able to also influence and change the international system. Hence, the enforcement measure of the EU is limited and cannot implement its norms and values in whole part of the world. Secondly, the US has a major power in terms of huge influence to different parts of the world. For example, the US has a legal legislative power and takes major privileges in order to execute the rules and settle the disputes in the WTO.
Furthermore, the problem with climate change is ongoing process and the EU cannot able to take unified enforcement measures and exact actions to tackle this problem, because of the fact that today, the major contributor of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide is the US, but compare to the administration of other US presidents, Barack Obama proclaimed last year the “climate year” to undertake major actions and steps regarding climate change. But in general, the hostility between the White House and congress impede the pivotal actions on climate change. Therefore, it is crystal clear that only with the involvement of the EU, nation states cannot talk about the settlement of the climate change. The EU has a regional power rather than international power. When it comes to naming the EU, we can say that the EU is not a state, because it does not have exact or unified boundaries, enforcement measures and etc. At the same time, the EU is not an empire like the contemporary US or nineteenth century Britain. To a large extent, the EU has a polycentric power structure rather than centralized governance dimension.
Currently, the enlargement and neighborhood policy of the EU is an ongoing process and provide the set of values, principles, and norms for other nation-states. The EU enlargement policy basically subjects to the political activities rather than economic and power policy. To a large extent, the policy of EU enlargement upholds the democratic principles and common values, the rule of law, respect for human rights, essential freedoms, basis of market economy, sustainable development and high-quality supremacy that be aimed at setting up democratic framework and basis for governmental structure for not only European countries, but also post-Soviet countries. Indeed, the EU is the only exterior power expected to control and influences the affairs in the Central and Eastern European countries, and also EaP’s countries through its transformative leverage. For the meantime, “furor” over the rising possible geopolitical gains of European Union also puts the Russian interests in jeopardy. We cannot say that the EU could not execute its policy regarding other countries; it has also a broad coercive diplomacy that imposed the economic sanctions on Iran, Russia, Syria and Sudan. The EU has also major implementation forces that broadly participated in the Kosovo and Yugoslavia crisis.
At that time the IFOR and SFOR (Joint Endeavor) implementation forces of NATO within the mandate of the UN were handed over to the supervision of the EU under the name of EUFOR. In conclusion, the EU is neither an empire nor a state, but in general, as a regional power it has a huge influence over nation-states. According to some analysts, the enlargement of the EU is much safer than the US power and it can be effective when its power is awe-inspiring and its set of values and principles are shared in not only the Central and Eastern European countries but also EaP countries. In order to be successful concerning its policy in the international plane, the EU needs to export its governance to other countries through economic means such as free trade, visa liberalization process and etc. Hence, the EU needs major enforcement measures through economic means, promotion of its policies, rules, and values that lead to the empowerment of other nation-states in the international system.
EU as a framing actor
The article investigates the EU foreign policy issues by engendering different kinds of debates and giving varied opinions in order to discuss the EU’s ability for upcoming years. Basically, in today’s world, according to some analysts, the main drawbacks of the EU capacity regarding its external policies are the lack of defining its own “national interests” and the threat of disintegration into national positions. The three main academic strands ignite the crucial debates in regard to the EU actorness in the contemporary world: legitimacy, attractiveness, and recognition.
The major trends over the three existing streams mention different approaches toward the EU foreign policy “power”. Therefore, it is crucial to understand and elucidate the paradigms of these strands. According to the legitimacy, the EU has its own national policy strategy and priorities that are perceived as an internally legitimate power by its own citizens. When it comes to the attractiveness and recognition the EU as an external actor can be characterized as a framing power and recognized by outsiders and other non-member states in terms of its external policy and functioning procedure. The EU as a legitimate actor has a huge ability to impose the national policy strategies and in particular undertake the enforcement measures belonging to entirely nation states. Hence it should follow its own interests coming from its internal policy strategy.
The second academic discourse envisages the wide-spread distribution of the EU system of governance beyond its boundaries without the use of force. In fact, the spreading of the EU governance policy toward nation-states has never based on the implementation of the use of force; instead, the pervasive acceptance of the EU’s set of norms and values concern on a voluntary incorporation with the EU by countries outside of it. Another broadly discussed topic mainly rests on the recognition of the EU as an independent power. Basically, in terms of its external policy and governance system, the nation states see the EU as a successful carrier of its own interests, especially, internal legitimacy and external power. To a large extent, the countries outside of the EU, perceive it as a successful independent actor within an international plane that can be able to undertake responsibilities and set up its own internal policy and own interests appertaining to member states of it.
In today’s world, the EU as an external actor has bilateral relations with some states as well. Basically, in order to analyze the relations with the EU in detail, Ukraine can be taken as an example in terms of the trends of relations between them. In fact, as one of the members of Eastern Partnership Programme, Ukraine is much more inclined to the pro-Western activities and supports its set of values and norms. Therefore, the EU and its institutions have fervent interests to nurture the relations with Ukraine and strengthen the relations for coming years. From the historical course, it is clear that Ukraine has faced many challenges and obstacles regarding the Russia-Ukraine energy (gas) crisis in 2009, and in particular, the 2004 Orange Revolution in regard to the Europeanization maneuvers of Ukraine. In the example of Ukraine, it is crucial to analyze the major procedures comes from the mass media and public discourse. In this case, the major European countries have to be taken into account towards Ukraine, the more inclined to the relations Germany, and less inclined to the relations with it, France and the UK. It is undeniable fact that those countries have a huge capacity to carry out diplomatic relations not only with Ukraine but also other countries. Therefore, they can be seen as major carriers of the EU external actions and maneuvers towards other countries.
The Orange Revolution in Ukraine brought more attention to an EU-wide approach in all three countries. Concerning the mass media and public discourse in Ukraine, although the EU is a predominant actor in national media analysis and discourse, at the same time, it has also a number of limitations. First of all, there is a lack of broad growth of the EU’s shares in the articles. Secondly, in terms of the bilateral relations with Ukraine, gives a less attention and care to the national media that how the data or information can be relevant for Ukraine in particular, the British media. In conclusion, the research apparently shows that the EU as a framing power mainly subjects to the shape of its governance policy rather than to rational perception of its exact policies and instruments. Inside the EU there are some limitations that it is facing today’s world. According to the fact that even today, there is not exact action and unified perceptions between the EU member states. Thereby, the EU’s stance and proposals can be characterized unidentified because of the contradictory views and approaches of the member states.
EU’s Energy and Politic Approach to Indonesia: Between Hate and Love
Authors: Akhmad Hanan and Mayora Bunga Swastika
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Europe has been forced to seek alternative energy sources other than Russian gas. Previously, Russia supplied around 40% of Europe’s gas needs through pipelines owned by Russia’s Gazprom. However, Russia decided to cut their gas supply to Europe as a counter action of US and its ally economic sanction. As a result, Europe has left no choice but to buy expensive LNG, optimize renewable energy sources, and tap other coal-producing countries.
Winter came, and it tormented Europeans even more. The energy scarcity due to the absence of Russian gas put many European countries into crisis. They had to pay higher for alternative energy sources as a domino effect of the Russia-Ukraine war. They also decided to utilize coal, contradicting their robust commitment towards energy transition goals and the Paris Agreement. Europe’s decision to turn back on coal has also altered the global energy transition’s geopolitical landscape. Europe is seen as a region supporting accelerated energy transitions and encouraging countries outside the region to follow suit. However, currently, Europe is taking steps contrary to efforts to accelerate the energy transition.
At the same time, Indonesia got their windfall profit through the European situation due to the rising coal price in the market. Europe has been one of Indonesia coal exporters, and following the disruption in Europe’s energy supply, Indonesia attempted to capitalize on the situation by increasing export quotas to Europe. This strategy was taken since Indonesia is one of the world’s largest coal producing countries.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade reports coal exports to Europe reached 6.6 million tons in December 2022. Previously, Indonesia only exported less than 1 million tons per year to the same region at the same time. The main reason was some European countries such as Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands, and Germany increased their demand for Indonesian coal significantly.
Additionally, Indonesia became the top global coal exporter in 2022, with a total of 469 million tons, 9% higher than the previous year. Indonesia used to export coal to developing countries, mainly in Asia. As a result, Indonesia’s state revenue exceeded the targets by almost three times higher than expected. The Indonesia’s ministry of finance calculated the realization of state revenue reached 7.8 million USD, 2.8 million USD higher, and it was highly contributed from the coal trading.
Relations between Indonesia and Europe regarding energy commodities are indeed often tug-of-war. Hitherto, the European Union’s relationship with Indonesia was strained due to Indonesia’s decision on palm oil and nickel commodities. Indonesia’s decision to utilize palm as a biofuel source was feared to increase land use change in tropical forests and reduce its capacity to be a natural based solution in climate change mitigation.
Indonesia’s decision to ban nickel export was also being challenged by the European Union at the WTO in November 2019. The EU claimed this decision was unfairly harming its stainless steel industry. However, Indonesia insisted this decision was made for national development. From Indonesia’s point of view, Indonesia’s decision is one of the efforts to protect its national interests to fulfill domestic supply. Indonesia’s downstream plans will be threatened if Indonesia lifts the nickel export ban as desired by the EU. The Indonesian government has a target to build a nickel smelter in Indonesia. However, Indonesia lost the EU lawsuit regarding the nickel export ban.
Indonesia-Europe relations and Indonesia’s defeat in the nickel export ban lawsuit show that the issue of international relations is still closely interdependent. A country cannot only pay attention to its domestic interests but also pay attention to common interests. In this case, Indonesia and EU benefit from each other when conducting economic cooperation, especially export-import. This can be seen from the benefits when coal exports to the EU increase. Of course, the benefits of this cooperation will not be obtained if the two countries do not cooperate.
Apart from Indonesia’s interest in securing domestic supply, Indonesia should be able to take opportunities to cooperate with other countries, including the EU, in the energy sector. Cooperation between countries that cannot be avoided in the era of globalization should be the foundation for Indonesia in making and carrying out foreign policy. Indonesia must find a win-win solution in its relations with other countries because doing protection in this era is not a solution.
Europe’s relations with Africa and Asia are on the brink of collapse, and Russia is benefiting
More than one year since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the world remains caught in the middle. Against a backdrop of high energy and food prices, ravaging inflation, social unrest and fears of another global recession, Western and Russian blocs are once again vying for support from nations of the developing world.
Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz, Sergei Lavrov, Qin Gang, and Anthony Blinken are just some of the names that have made high-profile visits to Africa in the last 12 months. All have largely focused on cooperation and trade, yet each has done so with a discourse reflecting a kind of Cold War reboot, with Ukraine as one of its most prominent symptoms.
Each in their own way, armed with their respective propaganda, these superpowers wish for nations of Africa and Asia to pick a side. Yet, unlike the previous century, those nations cannot so easily be made to choose, nor should they have to. Russia understands this. The West does not.
It’s no secret that Africa has been reluctant to overtly condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine, or to participate in Western efforts to sanction and isolate the warring country. Instead, African and Asian nations have continued to welcome these longstanding partners with open arms – widely condemning the war, but not Russia.
In Malawi, for instance, Russia’s deliveries of tens of thousands of tonnes of fertiliser amidst global shortages are seen as a gift from heaven by struggling farmers. Malawi’s minister of agriculture shook hands with the Russian ambassador, describing Russia gratefully as “a true friend”. Russia’s announced plans to send 260,000 tonnes of fertiliser to countries across Africa, is certain to spread similar sentiments.
In my country Congo-Brazzaville, the government signed five major cooperation agreements with Russia in the midst of its war with Ukraine, including for the construction of a new oil pipeline and to enhance military cooperation.
This charm offensive, prominently led by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who has visited South Africa, Eswatini, Angola, Eritrea, Mali, Sudan and Mauritania just since January, is already nourishing pro-Russian sentiment throughout the continent, and stands in sharp contrast to the damp squib that was President Emmanuel Macron’s recent African adventure.
In his press conference with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President, Felix Tshisekedi, in what was perhaps the most deaf-tone faux pas of his entire trip, President Macron was repeatedly asked to condemn Rwanda’s support for M23 rebels causing havoc in eastern DRC – a situation that closely resembles Russia’s covert support for Donbass separatists in recent years. For all intents and purposes, he failed to do so.
Instead, when a French journalist quizzed him on former Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s disparaging mention of an “African-style compromise” in relation to President Tshisekedi election in 2019, Macron proceeded to lecture the Congolese President on freedom of the press – much to the disbelief of those witnessing the scene.
Despite President Macron’s effusive rhetoric about ‘new relationships’ and ‘new starts’, his outburst was yet another bitter reminder of Europe’s longstanding paternalistic and dissonant attitude towards the continent. This is the same attitude whereby decades of European political and military influence on the continent have failed to generate meaningful progress when they did not actively undermine those efforts. Africans are wise to this and refuse to take it anymore, as evidenced by the growth in anti-French sentiment in West Africa. Russia, China and others, though far from being without reproach, are merely seizing the presented opportunities.
Just as the share of EU aid going to Africa has declined significantly, similar problems are afoot with Europe’s relations in Asia. Its share of Southeast Asian merchandise trade, excluding China, fell by over a third over the last two decades. Western Europe was the destination for less than a tenth of Malaysian, Singaporean, South Korean and Taiwanese exports in 2021. Russia is again moving fast to fill the gap, adopting China as its main trading partner, and consistently exporting oil and gas to eager Asian buyers, rather than to the West. When Russia suspended its double taxation treaties with “unfriendly” countries around the world in mid-March, most Southeast Asian countries were exempted from this measure.
Moreover, Russia has over the last decade become the largest arms supplier to the region, recently running joint naval exercises with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia have all rejected imposing sanctions on Moscow, whilst Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia to improve agricultural trade earlier this year.
One cannot fault these nations for engaging in partnerships and cooperation with international partners, in the interest of addressing their most urgent societal priorities. Nor can one fault African and Asian countries for taking with a pinch of salt a discourse on international values and change, when this supposed change stems not from recognition of current flaws, but from the impositions of emergent global trends.
What lessons can be given about territorial integrity and justice, when the events of 2011 in Libya, as well as their enduring consequences, remain traumatically fresh in African minds, or when the posture of African countries relative to the war in Ukraine is almost identical to that of Europe relative to the conflict in the eastern provinces of the DRC?
What lessons should be drawn from European courts proceeding to the seizure of Malaysian assets and properties worth $15 billion – including lucrative oil and gas assets – based on a questionable arbitration authorised by a Spanish arbitrator facing criminal prosecution from the Spanish authorities? And who will really benefit, given that this claim on sovereign territories, derived from a mid-nineteenth agreement between a long-vanished Sultanate and a colonial-era British company, is funded by unknown third-party investors?
The willingness of European courts to confiscate the resources and assets of a sovereign Asian nation on such flimsy grounds is not lost on observers in Africa and across the developing world.
Whatever the answer to these questions may be, it is evident that relations between the old and new worlds will continue to strain as long as underlying assumptions and beliefs do not evolve. Specifically, change is needed in those attitudes that continue to consider developing nations as oblivious to the many contradictions of rhetoric and practice that characterise the world as we know it – whether in terms of: a system of aid and trade that nourishes the imbalances and ills it purports to address; a discourse on international law and values that crumbles in the face of past transgressions and current drives for reforms; or even negotiations on climate finance in which urgency stops when economic interests begin.
The Western world can only reverse this trajectory by seeking out a genuinely new footing in its relations with the countries of Africa and Asia – challenging its own assumptions and understandings about what a respectful partnership between equally legitimate nations truly means. This is not about paying lip-service to ideals struggling to remain convincing, nor is it about entirely conceding these ideals on the altar of economic pragmatism.
Rather this means accepting a due share of responsibility for the current state of affairs, understanding expectations for the future, being willing to make real concessions, and aligning discourse with dollars and deeds. In doing so, the Western world will reassure those of us that continue to believe in the promises of the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that these were not merely pretences to maintain hegemony in the face of existential threats, but rather an enduring vision for a better world that remains worth fighting for today.
A Muscular U.S. Foreign Policy and Changing Alliances
Imagine a country rich in fossil fuels and another nearby that is Europe’s premier industrial power in dire need of those resources — is that a match made in heaven?
Not according to Joe Biden who quashed it as if it was a match made in hell. Biden was so much against any such rapprochement that to end all prospects of a deal, he ordered the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines. Two out of four lines were severely damaged, about 50 meters of them and Russia chose not to conduct repairs. Instead,it is pumping its gas up through Turkey.
So far, Russia has not responded to this act of war but a leader can not afford to lose face domestically or internationally, and one may not be surprised if an American facility or ship suffers an adverse event in the future.
In the meantime, Russia has become fast friends with China — the latter having its own bone to pick with Biden. China, a growing industrial giant, has almost insatiable energy needs and Russia stands ready to supply them. An informal deal has been agreed upon with a formal signing ceremony on March 20, 2023.
So who won this fracas? Russia gets to export its gas anyway and China, already generating the world’s highest GDP on a purchasing-power-parity basis, has guaranteed itself an energy source.
Of course there is Ukraine where Biden (like the US in Vietnam) is ready to fight to the last Ukrainian. Despite a valiant resistance, they are not winning, for Russia continues to solidify its hold on Ukraine’s east, most recently by taking Soledar and capturing parts of the transport hub Bakhmut itself.
And then there is Saudi Arabia: hitherto a staunch U.S. ally, it is now extending a hand of friendship to Iran, which its previous king used to call the snake in the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia is keenly aware of the vassal-like manner in which the U.S. has treated Germany, its ally with the largest economy in Europe, over its desire to buy cheap gas from Russia. The deal was nixed and observers estimate it cost Germany a couple of points of GDP growth. Such a loss in the U.S. would translate to almost zero growth.
India used to be a neutral country between the great powers. In fact, its first leader after independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a leading figure in the non-aligned movement. It is now being tugged towards the US.
The latest tug is ICET or the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies. Its purpose is to find ways to engage through “innovation bridges” over the key areas of focus. This coordination between the two countries is to cover industry, academia and government.
On the other hand, India’s arch rival Pakistan used to be in the US orbit for decades. Now it is virtually a Chinese client state even though for a time, particularly during the Afghan war, it was a source of much help for the US.
Such are the vagaries of alignments in a multi-polar world, particularly when under pressure from major powers.
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