Europe: Searching for its Strategic Compass. Emmanuel Macron’s Vision

by Jānis Eichmanis

Riga 2020

Compelled by the shifting global power relationships which can, at various levels, act as threat multipliers, the European Union, collectively and at the level of member states, seeks a geopolitical understanding of these shifts and their consequences for European security; metaphorically, one could say that it is a matter of finding Europe’s ‘strategic compass’.

Compelled by the shifting global power relationships which can, at various levels, act as threat multipliers, the European Union, collectively and at the level of member states, seeks a geopolitical understanding of these shifts and their consequences for European security; metaphorically, one could say that it is a matter of finding Europe’s ‘strategic compass’. The result, after a process of analysis and debate, would be a common threat analysis and a common strategic culture. Two parallel processes have been initiated; one by the French President Macron that is based on an exclusive group of countries, including the U.K., and the other inclusive, initiated by the Union’s Defence Ministers.

From a Latvian perspective the French initiative is the one more fraught with ambiguity, as it is embedded in an attempt to come to terms with the Union’s relations with the United States, Russia and China. In the French understanding of these relations Europe should not become an object of contention but should maintain an independent and autonomous foreign policy course that serves Europe’s interests as an integrated entity that upholds the principles of the ‘rules-based international order’.

How President Macron makes his case for his version of the EU’s strategic compass is the subject of this paper. It raises the question of whether Macron’s attempts to refashion the Union’s strategic focus will merge with that of the inclusive EU strategic process or whether the French maintain its separate identity. A lot will depend on the actions taken by Germany and the extent to which the UK will be prepared to engage with, and the EU prepared to offer a role for the UK within the CSDP. Ambiguity arises also with respect to the future actions of the United States in its relations with Europe if Trump wins the 2020 election. Moreover, what role within a restructured European security architecture Russia could play is also an open question, given Macron’s efforts to find a new relationship with Russia. These are questions raised in the study that are of interest not just for Latvia but also for the EU as a whole.

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