The new leaders of the European Union will take office at a watershed moment for Europe. After five years of damage limitation at home and abroad, the next five years will either be about investing in Europe’s economic growth, political cohesion and global influence, or managing decline while trying to cope with destabilising shocks. Europeans face a stark choice: a pivot to Europe or Europe’s decay.
In this report FRIDE and its partners in the European Think Tanks Group (ETTG, which includes DIE, ECDPM, FRIDE and ODI) examines the five most pressing global challenges facing the incoming European Union (EU) leadership: a fairer world economy, climate change, peace and security, democracy and human rights, and poverty and inequality. They argue that tackling these challenges is vital both for global welfare and for Europe’s own security and prosperity. The publication calls on EU leaders to recognise the interconnected nature of these global challenges and act rapidly and with determination to address them, including through a High Representative for Foreign Affairs that is responsible for all external relations including development; through commissioners that move beyond their silos to work together; and through enhanced scrutiny by the European Parliament to strengthen accountability on these issues.
In early 2013, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that after its 2014 drawdown from Afghanistan, the strategic posture of the Atlantic Alliance would shift ‘from deployed NATO to prepared NATO’. Following the annexation of Crimea earlier this year, Russia’s invasion of other parts of Ukraine has sharpened the meaning of Rasmussen’s words, setting a challenging new security context for the NATO leaders who meet at a summit in Wales on September 4-5th. However, while the Ukrainian crisis will surely dominate the summit proceedings (and developments in Libya, Iraq and Syria may also be discussed), two interrelated tensions – one operational, the other political – will also greatly affect NATO’s future.
The abdication of Juan Carlos I de Borbón will have a significant impact on Spanish foreign policy as the ex-monarch has molded the foreign policy over the last forty years. One of his last acts during his reign was his three visits to the Persian Gulf between April and June, which is part of the new trade policy map and Spanish foreign investments. The reshuffling of the list of Spanish posts in the EU following the European elections should also be noted, as this is likely to have a greater affect than would first appear in the future of Spain in European politics.
2014 could be key for overhauling Spanish foreign policy. Key developments in the first three months of the year include the approval of the so-called Law Margallo, first of its kind in Spain and which fills a normative and organisational vacuum; Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s visit to the United States and Minister Margallo’s tour around Southeast Asia; the crisis between Spanish company Sacyr and the Government of Panama; and the Spanish government’s attempt to recover political influence in Brussels by advertising the country’s economic recovery.
In the last quarter of 2013, Spanish foreign policy was marked by five main issues: Gibraltar; US espionage; the Ibero-American Summits; the difficult balance between commercial expansion and foreign policy; and the so-called ‘Catalan’ question.