European Council on Foreign Relations

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What does Italy want from Europe?

Italy takes over the Presidency of the European Union today, its eleventh since 1959, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi facing weeks of business delayed by the allocation of top EU jobs. The European Parliament, the Commission and the Council are all busy with appointments to new posts before they go off for their summer break. Prime Minister Renzi will probably try to use this time to push ahead with Italy’s presidency agenda. He’s in a strong position to build on his 41 percent share of the vote in the recent European elections in which Italian turnout - at 59 percent - was one of the highest in Europe.

Elections across Europe produced the most Eurosceptic Parliament ever but in Italy Renzi managed to contain much of that populism with Italian Socialist MEPs topping the poll. It has given him a legitimacy in Europe he had previously lacked. Mr. Renzi and Germany’s Angela Merkel

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#HighRepCasting – join the campaign

The European Union is set to appoint a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – at a moment when the importance of a strong EU foreign policy couldn’t be clearer. Instead of the horse-trading and political calculations that will likely result in someone taking on the High Rep mantle – imagine if qualifications and strategic thinking drove the EU’s selection process. And imagine if the post to steer EU foreign policy was so coveted and high-profile, that the process received widespread enthusiastic attention.

ECFR is imagining such a world. We want to draw attention to the High Representative position and, by extension, EU foreign policy by exciting some debate around the position – and we want to have a little fun with it.

Join our campaign on twitter to shine some light on the future face of EU foreign policy. We have started a small twitter campaign

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The Next High Rep needs look beyond soft power

This piece is part of a series on the casting of a new High Representative. For the full series, click here. Read Josef Janning's introductory piece here

One should hope that the next High Rep will help Europe shed its illusions about the impact of soft power. Europe’s security, interests, and values depend on it.

With the world drawn to the rise of China’s state capitalism and with the increasing focus of emerging democracies like Brazil and India on national sovereignty and non-interference, Europe must be able to assert its influence and values - and that requires military power. While the United States sees security concerns in Asia, Europeans see only an enormous market.

The crisis in Ukraine should constitute a long-overdue wake-up call. But Europe’s leaders have not rushed to respond to America’s calls for increased defence spending. They would rather confront Russia

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A High Rep to create Europe’s World

This piece is part of a series on the casting of a new High Representative. For the full collection, click hereRead Josef Janning's introductory piece here

As next EU foreign policy chief, it looks like we are going to have the choice between a strongman with a disregard for the rules and a mild-mannered technocrat capable of steering the Big-3 states. And by Big-3 states, of course, I mean Texas, Florida, and New York because we Europeans seem undecided only about whether to outsource our foreign-policy decisions to Obama or to the maverick Putin.

It’s a shame we aren’t interested in defining our global role for ourselves. This was supposed to be Europe’s World – multipolar, with a declining role for the US and a growing demand for EU-style regionalism. All we had to do, it was always said, was lie back while the rest of the world nudged out America and adopted our model of

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The EU after the elections: what you see is what you get

This post is part of a series on the issues discussed at the ECFR Annual Council Meeting in Rome (12-13 June). You can find more content and audio from the council meeting here.

The financial crisis resulted in a fragmented, unequal and unpopular Europe, and - as demonstrated by the recent European elections - a significant number of people have turned their back on the EU. However, with the rise in eurosceptic populism and the lack of growth and jobs, the EU now more than ever requires active engagement from its citizens and political courage from its policymakers. The question now is not whether Europe should move ahead, but how.

In the interest of avoiding frantic activism, the participants of this panel agreed that a substantive analysis of the reasons for the mixed results is needed. They identified three major clusters:

1) Turnout: The overall turnout of 43.1 percent was

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