From Spectator to Actor: Changing gear in EU foreign policy

From Spectator to Actor: Changing gear in EU foreign policy

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The EU has long aspired to play a role in world affairs commensurate with its status as an economic power, an ambition embodied in the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), the European External Action Service and a host of programmes, policies and mechanisms.

In this call to action, Renew Europe MEP Urmas Paet, who was Estonian foreign minister from 2005-2014, forensically examines the EU's too-often ineffective performance in the face of a wide range of foreign policy challenges. Lack of consensus among the member states, slow decision-making, strategic confusion, poor engagement with potential partners and an absence of real conviction are constant themes.

The inescapable conclusion is that in foreign policy the EU, while a source of ceaseless pronouncements and declarations, remains a minor player in a world where Great Power politics have reasserted themselves - and a world in which systemic challenges to the western democratic model, from Russia, China and others have become more powerful than when the CFSP was initiated. Mr Paet's theme is to learn from the past, not dwell on it, and to grasp the nettle to achieve a unified and effective strategy before it is too late. Bold, but realistic and pragmatic ambition must replace vague and ill-defined aspirations which produce nothing.

As he writes "It is simply no longer enough to stride around the world offering hope, values and a cheque book. The EU and its member states need ... to prioritise and strategise, speak with one voice and with common goals, and do so with clarity and consistency."
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Product details

  • Paperback | 260 pages
  • 129 x 198mm
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1838089853
  • 9781838089856
  • 1,602,434

Table of contents

1. Cooperation, coherence, and conviction
2. Power and influence
3. Reform and relevance
4. Partnership and rivalry - the Chinese conundrum
5. Selective engagement - the Russian dilemma
6. Rebuilding transatlantic trust
7. Freezing conflict - the Arctic
8. Stabilising the neighbourhood
9. Defending the Union - European peace and security
10. New threats - winning the information war
11. The road ahead
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About Urmas Paet

Urmas Paet served as Estonia's foreign minister from 2005 to 2014. He has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2015, sitting as a member of the liberal Renew Europe group. Since 2019 he has been vice-president of Parliament's foreign affairs committee.
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