Aug 1st 2020TO DEPRESS AN EU diplomat, lay out a map of Europe. On one border is Russia, posing a physical threat to the bloc’s eastern members and
TO DEPRESS AN EU diplomat, lay out a map of Europe. On one border is Russia, posing a physical threat to the bloc’s eastern members and a digital one to the rest. To the south-east the western Balkans remain a mess. Turkey has evolved from partner to awkward neighbour to menace. In Ukraine a war still rumbles on, while Belarus, previously a place of autocratic stability, looks wobbly. Around the Mediterranean a line of unstable or failed states stretches from the Middle East to north Africa.
A coherent foreign policy in such circumstances would make sense. Instead the EU has a contradictory one. Russia is regarded as an existential threat by the likes of Poland, but a potential ally by France. Turkey is viewed in a similarly erratic way. Countries in the western Balkans should be hugged close or shoved away, depending on whom you ask. In Libya, perhaps the apogee of EU foreign-policy bungling, member states managed to find themselves on different sides of a civil war, while both Russia and Turkey carved out a foothold on the EU’s southern underbelly.
The EU is a victim of geography when it comes to foreign policy. But it is also a casualty of its own policy failures. To understand these problems it is worth remembering how it handled another predicament: the euro-zone crisis. The two have more in common than first appears. In both cases an indispensable national…