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Sunday, 10 April 2011 17:11

EU plus or minus part I : Security and defense Franco-British duumvirate

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Some claim that progress in the European integration process is related to the crises that the EU has to deal with. Thus, in a period when we can probably say to be experiencing a lot of deficiencies, and certainly no lack of crises, we should perhaps expect some EU "concrete achievements" to follow. The recent European Council summit held on the 24/25th of March might give us some ideas.

Even though the so-called "euro-crisis" and the situation in North Africa, particularly the intervention in Libya, are largely incomparable cases, in terms of the EU response – at least one similarity can be found. The main, let's say 'tough' EU actions have not been made by the common institutions (i.e. the EU Commission), who have confined themselves to vague declarations of condemnation or support, but by 'ad hoc target-coalitions' of member states. In Libya's case we've seen a sovereign initiative by the UK and France, similar to France and Germany who took responsibility for rescuing the euro.

Perhaps there's also one other similarity. Along with the end of 'the community scenario' in the EU, the position of the East is more or less marginalised by both duumvirates. In two posts I'll try to outline the ways in which Eastern Europe is reacting and trying to fight against that 'exile to the peripheries'. In this first installment I will focus on the situation associated with the Libyan intervention and the Franco-British security and defense duumvirate, and in the second I'll try to make a point of the Euro Plus Pact pursued by the Franco-German coalition.

Security and defence: Franco-British duumvirate

In regard to the intervention in Libya, the East revealed a rarely before seen sign of solidarity. Apart from Romania and Bulgaria, which decided to take part in the coalition, the rest politely enjoyed siding with the Germans. 

Not to go too deeply into Romania and Bulgaria's aims, I would suggest that it was built on a desire to meet the freshly assumed alliance obligations with NATO and the more Southern European/ Northern Balkan character of those countries' location. Even though some reliable examination of the actual Eastern countries' military abilities might also give some 'open secret' justification - it still remains obvious that Eastern Europe's esprit de corps is less passionate than its vital need for the EU's grants and subsidies. Hence whilst the prolonged EU budget negotiations are still not finished and the threat of its austerity is 'hitherto existing' it's reasonable to want to get closer to the largest budget contributor – Germany.

Furthermore the East does not want to get into the Commission's bad books by a too cordial fraternisation with 'the mean Cameron'. It was not an accident that the first country the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski mentioned in his 2011 exposé proclaimed three days before the "Odyssey dawn" was Germany.

The East had few easy choices. Even though most of the Eastern leaders can be more or less open fans of the "New Conservative" Prime Minister Cameron and still hold onto some unclear concepts of Thatcherite Britishness, when it came to real, accountable interests they did not maintain amorous affection for the relationship and refused the Number 10 Libyan proposal, preferring to stay at home with their 'less sensitive' but 'more sensible' Germany. This was made even more attractive by the voters' expressed pacifism. 

The ad hoc target coalition mechanism was not clear. The foreign policy, especially in its military dimension, has therefore been left to the two nation-states and the East has accepted that rule's consequences willy-nilly, silently applauding the time-honoured Franco-British alliance despite the lack of decision making procedure inclusiveness and transparency. The consequences of this may be more complex than they appear in the light of the two duumvirates leading the EU. But that's another story… 

See part II later this week.

Last modified on Sunday, 01 May 2011 18:31
Ziemowit Jóźwik

Ziemowit Jóźwik is 23. Coming from Bieliny, a small village in the Holy Cross Mountains (Poland), he is now based in the more well known city of Krakow. Having written for Europe & Me since Issue 5 he will now take on the challenge of expanding our knowledge of the eastern borders of the European landscape. His blog will explore how European issues are understood 'under Eastern eyes.'

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