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Whose values? 2/2

Following ECFR European Foreign Policy Scorecard I find one important question for national policy makers: how relevant are global governance and EU foreign policy for different groups of states? We have witnessed the dominant behaviour of the biggest states (France, Germany, UK) and scorecard shows relative inaction of Greece, Latvia, Romania, Lithuania, Portugal, Cyprus, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta, Slovakia, also called top slackers. Is their strategic choice to join the alliances with one of the big three or could we find some other real life problems behind the data provided by ECFR?

I would dig into collective behaviour of EU: what is the collective identity of EU and what kind of values are turned into policies on the community level? We could think of  European values based on history, organisational culture, identity shift,  and values as soft power approach, secularization, rule of law, parliamentary democracy, normativization, demilitarization in comparison to US etc.

I would also look into the real life problems – is it true that small states tend to hand over global governance to the Community, because they can not really be effective in managing global issues, given the limits of their atomised powers? Perhaps they choose different priorities on national level and devote their resources to regional or local politics such as Eastern neighbourhood or Balkans development. These multilateral niche projects are somehow overlooked by scorecard, even if they really represent the soft fabric of international relations. There is also a pervasive notion of EU periphery, leading to complacency and accommodation of slackers. Truly, ECFR admits EU is “exporting the crisis to its already-troubled periphery and this is to some extent undercutting its policy in the region.”

Let me illustrate the value issue on relations with China, important for global balance of power and prosperity. In 2012 there was a Chinese – Central and East European economic forum in Warsaw with Chinese president Wen Jiabao. Leaders discussed economic cooperation among the countries and they agreed that China is the most important trading partner in Asia, the forum announced enhanced mutual trade and additional Chinese investments in the region, including new ten billion dollars credit line. Has the economic necessity become the reason for opting out on more value oriented issues, for example on privacy and human rights in China,  pollution, land-grabing,  exploitation of South American and African resources? If so, ECFR might find even less unity on these issues in 2014 without internal support for common global agenda. 

Bilaterally, China features high in Slovenia which organised Bled Strategic Forum with panel enhancing Europe’s strategic dialogue with China. Prof. Zhu Liqun, vice president of China Foreign Affairs University and Secretary-General of the China National Association for International Studies, rejected the question of whether China is willing to help  Euro as rhetorical, as China perceives it is already doing it and contributing to the European financial stability. Dilemma was turned on its head: “Is Europe ready to accept Chinese investment and can resist the temptation of politicizing Chinese investment and protectionism?” It is obvious that values behind this question will not make it into European foreign policy, but peripheral countries have been already forced to make a decision.

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Author :
EurActiv Network