The EU and the Reconstruction of the International Order

Lucio Levi
Member of UEF Federal Committee, Former President of UEF Italy

While the Cold War had promoted the unification of Europe within the framework of the Atlantic Alliance and had broken the East-West agreement which paved the way to the construction of the UN and the Bretton Woods organizations, it prevented any progress towards world unification.

The antagonism between the blocs left no room for any initiative in that direction. The end of the Cold War and the clear inability of the United States to continue to play the role of the world’s policeman and banker have contributed to the emergence of new players on the international scene. In the unipolar world, formed after the end of the Cold War, Washington used its dominance in international institutions to perpetuate its hegemony. In today’s emerging multipolar world the United States has chosen to follow the path of nationalism, to dismantle the architecture of global institutions and to bring down multilateralism and international cooperation. American nationalism has had a contagion effect on the rest of the world and seriously damaged the functioning of international organizations. Consequently, States are once again seeking their security in armaments. We are thus witnessing a resumption of the arms race.

How can we stop this dangerous trend which can lead to the return of the war? The United States is no longer in a position to support the weight of security of the Western world. This represents a decline comparable to the declaration of inconvertibility of the dollar into gold in 1971. The EU, while remaining an avant-garde in the world for its productive system, for its social model, for its democratic institutions, for the quality of life of its inhabitants, for its heritage of scientific and technological knowledge, if it does not manage to acquire the means to guarantee its own security, it will be destined to an inevitable decline and to the subordination to the giant States which dominate on the international political scene.

As we read in the Schuman Declaration, European unity was designed not only to make pacification between national states irreversible, but also to use its international influence to change the balance of power within the international system of states, to release tensions between the great powers and promote peace in the world. The phases of European unification are all stages in the construction of peace. The first – the formation of the European Community – represents the clearest evidence that, from Franco-German reconciliation onwards, the era of world wars was over. The second –  the enlargement of the EU and the unification of the two Europes, for the first time in history by peaceful means, which includes most of the former communist countries of central and eastern Europe – represents the definitive overcoming of the cold war. The third – the formation of the Euro-Mediterranean Community, and more precisely the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EUROMED) – is a failed project to resume from beginning to end and put back on the agenda as soon as possible.

At Europe's borders two regional organizations have developed: the African Union (AU)  and the Euro-Asian Economic Union, intended to occupy the place of the Soviet Union. In the jargon of Community legal texts they are defined as “neighborhood zones”, with which the EU has an interest in promoting the growth of two pillars of the new world order. To develop this policy, it is necessary to go beyond the bilateral approach and adopt the regional approach. The priority objective is the stabilization of these regions, which includes the renouncement of the use of force in the solution of international conflicts, which is the prerequisite for tackling the problems of economic cooperation and the protection of human rights. In other words, it is a matter of adopting the approach of the Helsinki Conference on security and cooperation in Europe in the areas covered by the “three baskets” of security, cooperation in sectors of the economy and the environment and human rights. In particular, the EU-AU partnership is the framework in which three main objectives can be pursued:

- financing a development plan that will allow to tackle the root causes of Africa's economic backwardness and the problems posed by the imposing migratory flows which are heading towards Europe;

- tackling in a coordinated way the global challenges, like climate change, terrorism, security and peace;

- strengthening the unity and independence of the African continent and democratizing the AU institutions.

On the other hand, the Euro-Asian Economic Union aims to fill the power vacuum created by the dissolution of the Soviet Union in accordance with the universal tendency to the formation of regional unions of states whose integration is based on economy. The preliminary objective that the EU must pursue is the reestablishment of a climate of confidence with Russia after its violations of international law accomplished by the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of eastern Ukraine, and the EU and NATO enlargement to the East, which have been perceived as a threat to Russia's security and fostered Russian nationalism, militarism and authoritarianism. After achieving these goals, it will become possible to develop

- first, conditions for international stability within the framework of the Council of Europe and the OSCE;

- second, economic and technological cooperation to emancipate Russia and its Euro-Asian partners from their exclusive dependence on fossil fuels and raw materials, diversify their productive system and make a long-term investment plan to pursue economic and technological innovation.

New forms of foreign policy no longer obey the imperatives of territorial conquest and the use of violence to resolve international conflicts. After the end of the Cold War and the start of the globalization process, the role of military power, understood as the crucial resource for solving international problems, has gradually weakened. Two factors play a crucial role: globalization and nuclear weapons. Because of the destructive potential of nuclear weapons, war, which cannot but cease with neither a winner nor a loser, would be reciprocal suicide. Because of globalization and its consequences – the erosion of state sovereignty – economic power has greatly increased in importance and weakened the role of power politics.

In other words, the world is facing the problem of strengthening and democratizing the international institutions established at the end of the Second World War, which are no longer suited to the needs of our time. The emergence of the EU as a global player – for the moment only in the monetary and commercial sectors, together with the rise of new protagonists in world economy and politics – China, India, Brazil –, will allow the international balance of power to evolve towards multipolarism and multilateralism. This is the condition for granting the United Nations the role of guardian of international order based on law, instead of force. The Conference on the Future of Europe that will gather in May is supposed to address the global challenges the EU is facing.

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