EU global strategy under threat from division at home

As the European Union reeled in the first shock of the United Kingdom’s Brexit decision, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini carried on with what should have been a transformative moment for the EU: the unveiling of the EU Global Strategy. On 28 June, Mogherini presented her draft, titled “Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe”, to the European Council; the document is intended to replace the outdated European Security Strategy, which has nominally guided European external strategy since its launch in 2003.


The Global Strategy’s central vision is less expansive, more humble and more realistic than its predecessor. Context matters, and in a time of interlocking crises for the Union, the Strategy stresses the need for consolidation and unity rather than presupposing that problems abroad and at home can be solved solely by the attractiveness of the EU’s model. The watchword is “principled pragmatism”, walking the line between “a realistic assessment of the strategic environment” and “an idealistic aspiration to advance a better world.”


The Strategy is permeated with an awareness of the disintegrative forces at work within the EU, exemplified by the Brexit decision that overshadowed Mogherini’s moment: presciently, the Strategy says: “Never has our unity been so challenged.” The resurgence of nationalism and antipathy to the EU’s supra-nationalist nature, which was partly responsible for the UK’s vote, is addressed forthrightly: “There is no clash between national and European interests. Our shared interests can only be served by standing and acting together. … The interests of our citizens are best served through unity of purpose between Member States and across institutions, and unity in action by implementing together coherent policies.”


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