Nelly Tsekova is a student of Public Policy at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria. She is member of JEF-Bulgaria and has done internships at the World Bank and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. Her interests include any EU-related topic especially foreign policy and education.
Rédacteur chez Europuls
The European Union - between USA and Russia
The Eurasian continent is the land - in terms of interest - that is currently the object of competing world powers. Under these conditions, the United States has a major control or influences certain key areas. In addition, the U.S. military presence is felt in regions highly strategic. With the exception of recent years which have been marked by the global financial crisis, the economic vitality of the United States has influenced the course of the global economy, especially after the Second World War, when the United States together accounted for more than 50% of global GDP. Over the course of time the number has dropped to 30% of global GDP. This decrease was caused by the rise of Asia and Western Europe.
Americans have developed a global strategy. Therefore, other countries built their own strategies based on the American political orientation. Thanks to a strategically advantageous position, the United States have both built active external policy and security strategy which was considered invulnerable. In this context and as international relations are becoming increasingly uncertain, the European Union has no choice but to follow the American model.
In 2011, the showdown that was to target the Gaddafi regime shows that the transatlantic partners have special relations. Despite this showdown, these relationships deteriorate, for purely geopolitical reasons. In this perspective, Europe is not attractive anymore, especially because of the significant changes that have occurred in Asia - both economic (eg, China) that the political and military (eg the Middle East). Asia has many faults, as shown by the records of Iran and Syria, the lack of predictability of China (as well as China-Japan and China-Taiwan relations), the Pakistan-India relations and finally the situation in Afghanistan.
If the United States is sometimes forced to react to the movements of the USSR, the EU has to decide on its next move in this game of chess. The main target of the U.S. strategy is Asia. If we consider Europe as a peninsula of Asia, it is clear that the European Union is the gateway to the American strategy.
France and Germany – USA relations – what approach?
Germany remains an important part of the European continent. Its position will directly influence the EU and transatlantic relations. The current environment favors a rapprochement between the USSR and Germany because of the interdependence between the two countries. Indeed, Germany has the know-how to help Russia develop its industry (Russia is a country that exports raw materials, which is ineffective in the medium term). Russia, for its part, has the necessary resources for Germany to maintain its economic productivity and its position on the European and global scene.
To this is added the uncertain relationship between Germany and the United States, given the lack of interest of Germany in the U.S. strategy in the Middle East and the Asian continent. The United States need a partner in Germany and implicitly a partner in the European Union, even if that partner is hard to find in the short and medium term.
This tendency of the United States and Germany to contradict each other is not new. Indeed, Germany has opposed the expansion of missile developed by the United States. In 2008, during the NATO summit in Bucharest, Germany opposed the launch of the Action Plan for the accession of Ukraine and Georgia, two key countries to U.S. interests in Europe.
The United States and Germany have different perceptions of Russia’s position on missile defense and NATO enlargement. Americans see this position as a strategic repositioning and thus an increase of Russian influence in Europe, while the Germans believe the way Russians perceive their own insecurity is very dangerous for Europe, which is far from the United States in geographical terms.
The debate is still ongoing and France, as a central actor in the European Union, will still need the support of the United States. As mentioned earlier, Gaddafi has been eliminated thanks to the collaboration of Europeans and Americans.
France will need the support of the United States to solve security problems in Africa, which directly threaten the southern coast of the Union. The year 2013 will probably be a very busy year for the fight against terrorism on the African continent. France is the most appropriate European country for this mission (from a historical and military point of view). A close Franco-American collaboration on this theme is expected and the evolution of the situation in Mali remains to be seen. In addition, France will have an important role in the management of internal affairs of the European Union. In fact, it will help Germany to focus on issues related to the deeper integration of the Member States, integration which presents an advantage to the United States, albeit indirectly.
Where is Romania in all that?
Romania will also have a role to play in this context. Indeed, Romania and Poland can serve as a pivot between the interests of the East (which are booming) and Western interests (which are being restructured). This game will not be easy, but if policymakers in Bucharest and Warsaw are mature, we could certainly see a positive trend in the coming years regarding the status of Romania at European level.
The European Union will need the United States and the next step is crucial, especially with the potential of Europe which serves as a mediator between Russia and the United States. Europe needs to become more unpredictable and even surprising at times, because this is what will keep it active on the international scene.