Thursday, 27 July 2017

The EU’s FP: Towards Ukraine and the Middle East ( BY k. s)

 The European Union was created in the consequences of the Second World War. After the WW2, the EU founder states devoted to working together for peace and prosperity. The Schuman Plan first resulted the Coal and Steel Community of 1951, and later the Treaties of Rome of 1957. The Treaties of Rome make no mention of EU foreign policy, because the development of a common foreign policy has always been one of the big issue. E.g. there is a historical example in the failure of the French Assembly to ratify European Defence Community (EDC) in 1954. Then EU foreign policy effectively removed from the agenda of the European Integration.

During the 1970s, the EC members took steps to co - ordinate their foreign policies in the framework of the European Political Cooperation (EPC). In 1973, an ineffectiveness of EPC become obvious, when the EC wanted to negotiated with the US through EPC. The EC had failed to create a single voice of Europe, with whom for example Henry Kissinger could negotiate. Despite that the EU has proved to be effective in mobilising shared position of the member states in pursuit of their common economic interests, it has been so difficult to mobilise the common foreign policy interests of the member states. However, in 1992, the Maastricht Treaty established, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the EU.  The Treaty also introduced common positions and joint actions. The Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 also reformed CFSP and empowered defence policy. However, the treaty stated that ‘’EU policies must not jeopardize NATO.”  As Barry Posen pointed out, there also was a concern that empowering the EU could be seen as ‘’balancing against the US.’’ Under the Amsterdam Treaty, the Union also created the post of High Representative for the CFSP to represent EU on foreign policy issues. In 2011, the EU  established European External Action Service (EEAS). Today, the High Representative for the EEAS and CFSP is Federica Mogherini. 

One of the most important achievements of the CFSP is the expansion of membership into Central and Eastern Europe. After the end of the Cold War, the EU through a foreign policy instrument of the EU: the Neighbourhood Policy , EU as a soft power was effectively involved in measure to promote regional cooperation in the economic and political fields in the Central and Eastern Europe. The EU borders have been extended to include the space of the  Former Soviet States. Between 1991 - 2013, the EU effectively became larger and integrated. The Union rebuilt the peaceful – non-aggressive political environment in Europe, bringing freedom, peace, security, and prosperity. The EU’s influence on peace and security, since 1945 is the Union’s proudest and biggest legacy. In 2012, the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize for it.
The EU diplomacy and the process of enlargement has worked remarkably well until  the Arab Spring and Ukraine Crisis. Relations between Ukraine and the European Union (EU) are shaped through the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). In 2007, the EU started preparing an Association Agreement with Ukraine and completed it in 2012. In 2013, under Russian pressure, the EU Association Agreement was rejected by Viktor Yanukovych. In 2013,  The pro - European Ukrainians went out on the streets to protest against President’s decision. The peaceful protests turned into a Russian backed civil war. Yanukovych fled to Russia and the EU-Ukraine association agreement, signed in March 2014, by Petro Poroshenko. The EU policy had been a defensive response to Ukraine Crisis. In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea, and the  EU rejected aggressive action with Moscow.  Also, during the Ukraine Crisis, EU governments were deeply divided about the economic sanctions. However, later under the US pressure, the EU imposed economic sanctions as ‘’a necessary evil’’ on Russia. In April 2014, the Minsk I and in 2015, the Minsk II" peace agreement was signed, between the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine. Today, EU closely observing the implementation of the Minsk Agreement, an effort to resolve the conflict that has killed more than 9, 000 people. The humanitarian situation also remains serious in Ukraine. More than 3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.   According to Democracy Watch, ‘’in 2016, the EU Commission have committed to "support the Ukrainian people,’ the Union  provided financial assistance of €1.8 billion’’. In 2016, following eight years of negotiations, the EU and Ukraine have signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Recently, the EU has adopted a visa-free travel for Ukrainians. 

The European Union also plays an important role in the Arab World.  EU’s policies towards the Region is mainly framed by the EU  Partnership  agreements and by the EU Neighbourhood Policy. However, since 2011, the Arab Spring forced the EU to rethink foreign policy attitudes towards the region, because of the EU’s security was affected by the refuge crisis. The EU has not played a major foreign policy role during the Arab Spring, because of a lack of common political vision. For example, in Libya, European countries were in the lead, but the EU was not. The military intervention in Libya, led by France and the UK, and commanded by the US and NATO. However, the intervention involved no ground forces, and terrorists gained ground and Libya has turned into chaos. The Syrian conflict, despite having a direct impact on EU has also failed to attract significant EU common  interests beyond economic incentives, humanitarian, and planned reconstruction support. In the Syrian conflict the US and EU failed to fill the power vacuum, and Russia and Iran have replaced the EU and the US. The conflict has metastasized into a regional disaster, with depressive consequences in Europe.  The EU also was not able to find a solution to the Refugee crisis. The Union’s policies and efforts to promote human rights and democracy in Arab states also failed. Right now, the EU is almost nowhere. And in Iraq, there seems to be no EU at all.  This is because, the EU is a soft power, not a hard - military power, in fact there is no EU common army, therefore the Union’s capabilities is limited. Despite this the EU continues to carry out some small military operations. For example, in Libya from 2013 to present. A border monitoring mission between Gaza and Egypt from 2005 to present, and the EU Police Mission to Afghanistan, from 2007 to present.

As this essay suggests, my evaluation of European Union’s foreign policy is mixed. The EU is able to act with a single and effective voice on some issues but not others. For example, the EU’s policies was not effective towards the Arab World, because of a lack of common political vision. However, when it comes to Ukraine, the EU’s record in Ukraine was mostly one of success. During the Ukraine Crisis, the EU’s economic sanctions were imposed on Russia. Also, in 2016, the EU and Ukraine have signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and recently, EU has adopted a visa-free travel for Ukrainians. Despite all efforts, today the EU is not a very effective foreign policy actor, because the EU does not uses its economic capabilities in order to promote a strong common foreign policies. And as long as the EU member states retain their full foreign policy capabilities the effectiveness of  CFSP of the EU will remain low.     

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