In the current geopolitical situation, Europe must learn the “language of power” in order to more effectively defend its interests, the elected President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is confident. This statement was made by the former Minister of Defense of Germany the day before in Berlin, speaking at an event organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
“Europeans cannot take confident positions in the world with“ soft power ”alone. Europe must also learn the language of power, ”said von der Layen.
“This means, on the one hand, to build our own muscles where we could rely on others for a long time, for example, in security policy. On the other hand, it’s more purposeful to use the existing force where European interests are concerned, ”said the head of the European Commission.
According to von der Leyen, the EU intends to decisively protect its interests in international trade, primarily in relation to relations with China. According to the politician, doing business in the West, Chinese companies must adhere to European standards.
In her Twitter, von der Leyen explained that she considers it necessary to strengthen European values, including using economic mechanisms.
Collectively we are 500 million and we produce 40% of global GDP. Together we are the world's largest trading power. Together we can negotiate trade agreements that not only benefit our economy, but also allow us to assert our values.- Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) November 8, 2019
“Our total number is 500 million, our share in world GDP is 40%. Together we form the largest trading entity in the world. Together we will be able to conclude trade agreements that will not only bring benefits to our economy, but also allow us to strengthen the position of our values, ”said the future head of the EC.
She also noted that Brexit only contributes to the cohesion of the states of continental Europe, and promised that the EU will play a leading role in the world in the fight against climate change.
As political analyst Yuri Svetov noted in an interview with RT, Ursula von der Leyen’s statement is in line with other recent statements by European politicians who also noted the need for greater geopolitical independence of Europe.
“Her words are an expression of the discussion that began in NATO. The key question still is whether they (EU. - RT ) should continue to rely on the United States unconditionally, or if Europe finally needs to switch to self-reliance, ”said Svetov.
On the day of von der Leyen’s speech, the French magazine Le Monde published an interview with Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy. In it, the former Foreign Minister of Spain noted that the lack of unity leads to paralysis of the organization.
It is worth noting that in October it was he who, speaking about the future foreign policy of the EU, was the first to use the phrase “language of power”.
- Josep borrell
- © Yves Herman / Reuters
On November 8, Borrel reiterated this statement, stressing that many would like to see the EU divided, but if the European Union wants to be a global player, the organization must rely on “power”.
“Everyone, intentionally or not, wants to divide us! - Borrel said in an interview with Le Monde. - We ourselves are divided as regards the response to the confrontation between the United States and China, depending on what we have experienced in the past. Trump defends his interests. The only answer we can give to (America. - RT ) “America First of All” is “United Europe”.
Against this background, the other day, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the "death of the brain" of NATO. In an interview with The Economist magazine, the French leader noted that because of the "inconsistency of the American partner," Europe should become autonomous in the field of security and revise its relations with Russia.
In turn, in Germany, the successor of Ursula von der Leyen as Minister of Defense and the head of the ruling faction of the Christian Democratic Union, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said on November 7 that the Bundeswehr should play a more active role in global security and expand its missions abroad. Earlier, Kramp-Karrenbauer called for the creation of an international security zone in Syria, where, according to her, German troops could also enter. According to the politician, Germany, given its "global interests", cannot sit aside when solving problems of a global scale. Kramp-Karrenbauer also promised that by 2031 Germany would finally fulfill the NATO requirement and bring defense spending to 2% of GDP.
Ursula von der Leyen, however, did not join Emmanuel Macron's criticism of NATO. She noted that, despite some “turbulence”, the military alliance has proven itself perfectly.
Most of the EU countries are also part of the North Atlantic bloc. Nevertheless, there are also formats of defense integration outside NATO, for example, the “European Corps” (Eurocorps), created in the early 1990s.
In addition, in the last couple of years, several new defense initiatives have been launched within the EU. In June 2017, the European Defense Fund was announced. In the same month, the defense ministers of France, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, Spain and Portugal signed an agreement on the creation of the EU Rapid Response Force. And in December 2017, the EU officially launched the Permanent Structured Cooperation in the Field of Security and Defense (PESCO).
Part of the speech by Ursula von der Leyen, which should take the chair of the head of the European Commission on December 1, was devoted to criticism of Russia. In particular, she said that in the EU there is democracy and the rule of law, which supposedly cannot be found in the Russian Federation or China.
According to von der Leyen, Europeans' hopes that the history of mankind ends with the triumph of liberal democracy (the concept of the “end of history” by American political scientist Francis Fukuyama) have not come true.
“You all know the term“ end of story. ” Today we must admit that our complacency was naive. At the same time, I think about Russia. The Kremlin is pushing the borders in Europe by force, trying to use any vacuum that the United States is leaving, ”said von der Layen.
Speaking about the countries of the Western Balkans, she advocated their integration into the EU, noting that otherwise the influence of other geopolitical players, including Moscow, will increase in the region.
“If we Europeans do not give the Western Balkans any prospect on our side, then others, whether China, Russia, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia, will penetrate this gap,” Der Spiegel quotes von der Leyen.
- Bundeswehr military personnel in Mali
- © Bundeswehr
As Alexander Kamkin, a leading researcher at the Center for German Studies at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted in a conversation with RT, the desire of European politicians for greater independence is largely due to negative trends in relations with the United States. However, this does not mean that Brussels will take a more pro-Russian position.
“American stiff protectionism and Trump’s shameless promotion of US interests have a sobering effect on Europe. Therefore, one can regard these statements both in the context of security policy and in the context of economic relations between Europe and the USA, ”Kamkin said.
“You can interpret these statements as addressed to our country: allegedly, Russia needs to be fenced off with a powerful armored curtain. In general, this is a signal that Brussels intends to gain more authority in the economy and in security policy, ”the expert added.
“War of concepts”
According to Yuri Svetov, von der Leyen’s position testifies to the EU’s desire for greater independence in international affairs.
“And she (the elected head of the EC. — RT ), as if looking at NATO from the outside, expresses this position - that the European Union should rely primarily on itself,” the political scientist said.
- © Danny Gys / ZUMAPRESS.com
At the same time, from the point of view of Alexander Kamkin, the approach of von der Leyen differs from that which Emmanuel Macron spoke about earlier. The President of the Fifth Republic criticized NATO and called for rapprochement with Russia. Also, it was Paris that blocked plans for the inclusion of the countries of the Western Balkans, primarily Northern Macedonia and Albania.
“Von der Leyen’s position is dictated by the more vassal nature of relations between Germany and the US than Washington and France,” Kamkin said. “Plus von der Leyen is a hawk in the camp of the CDU.”
According to him, in many aspects, the former Minister of Defense of Germany is forced to follow in the wake of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who criticized Macron's statement about the "death of the brain" of NATO.
Thus, the words of the future chairman of the European Commission can also be regarded as a kind of response to Macron, a manifestation of unspoken Franco-German rivalry within the EU, analysts say.
“We are witnessing a war of concepts, a war of high-profile statements in some way,” says Kamkin.
However, from the specialist’s point of view, it will be very difficult to realize the ideas of a united and “language of power” Europe.
“Despite deep political and economic integration, the EU has not reached the state of a superstate in terms of political consensus. The interests and positions of members of different states sometimes vary greatly. Under these conditions, the warlike rhetoric of von der Leyen will only have a destructive effect on decision-making mechanisms within the EU and on the attitude of the member states to the EU structures, ”concluded the source.