Assignment: End of Europe
There is a huge disparity between Europe’s economic power and its political clout on the world stage. Achieving a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has been a declared aim since the early 1990s, but so far the EU has rarely succeeded in presenting a united front to the world. One of the principal goals of the new Lisbon Treaty (also known as the Reform Treaty) that came into force in 2009 is to create a strengthened foreign policy post, as well as a more efficacious presidency. The EU has embraced the idea of a European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF) to intervene where NATO is unable or unwilling to act. Since 2007, some sixty thousand soldiers have been committed to a rapid reaction force potentially deployable for one year.
Since World War II, peace and stability have been the norm in Europe. Not by chance, Western political theorists have posited a direct link between democratic institutions and war-avoidance and more than a few have placed the evolution of the European Union at the heart of Europe’s “new normal.” But as the EU struggled to recover from the Great Recession, questions began to be raised about the future of “Europe.” Some observers even went so far as to predict the EU’s demise. However, such dire predictions fly in the face of logic and history.
In politics, as in life, nothing succeeds like success. Economic integration has worked wonders in Europe. Europe’s expansive—and until recently, expanding—markets create a space conducive to competition, investment, labor mobility, and commerce. The overall result has been an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity in a part of the world where for many centuries war was endemic. But the impetus for European integration is not solely economic; politics has also played a vital role.
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