European Council on Foreign Relations

Despite the Brits, a modest defence summit success

The headlines around last Thursday's European defence summit were dominated by the surreal shadow-play in which the UK prime minister indulges with British Europhobes on such occasions. They pretend to detect new European plots (to undermine NATO; to create a European army; to arm the EU Commission - nothing is too fantastical); he pretends to scotch them.

Never mind that the NATO Secretary General was moved to emphasise that 'I don't see any contradiction between strengthened defence in Europe and a stronger NATO', and that 'we are not talking about the EU possessing capabilities'.  Never mind either that the consequences of Britain's distaste for European cooperation were being pointed up at much the same time, as the UK's top general warned of the 'hollowing out' of its cash-strapped forces. The Europhobes were happy to have propagated a new EU scare, the prime minister to have

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London view: What has European foreign policy ever done for us?

Much of the debate around Europe’s global strategy ahead of the December European Union Summit, might appear to those of us in the UK to be missing the point. Have those self- absorbed diplomats in Brussels failed to notice that the UK has always been wary about more common foreign policy, and that the discussion here is about whether we want to continue as members of the European Union club at all? And, surely, if the UK is not part of the project, European power looks very different: one less seat at the UN Security Council; the loss of one of the EU’s few powers who still retain military capacity capable of decisive interventions; and the loss of the UK’s huge diplomatic network, and historical, trade and linguistic ties across the world. Not to mention the fallout which the EU would be dealing with on the global stage if the UK decides to go it alone in 2017 – international

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Time to get real about the European dream - and the American one

As part of our Scorecard debate here is a new guest blog post - this time we hear from Prof. Michael E. Smith (University of Aberdeen). You can also follow him on twitter @ProfMESmith.

May 9 was Europe Day - for the EU. The Council of Europe, however, set May 5 as its Europe Day. Europeans, it seems, can't even agree on when to celebrate their unity.  Worse, the EU in particular is having yet another identity crisis involving self-doubt and internal recriminations. This time, however, it seems different; a recent poll by the Pew Research Centre warns that support for the EU has fallen from 60% to 45%.  Perhaps most EU citizens realise that things are more serious this time, because the stakes are higher. The creation of the euro zone has locked a subset of EU countries into an uneasy, and unbalanced, relationship with each other, while simultaneously causing some non-euro EU

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A message from Tripoli

Last week’s bombing of the French embassy in Tripoli continues to be surrounded by question marks. By the time French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrived in the aftermath, no one had claimed responsibility for the attack. Over the weekend, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan held a much delayed press conference reported in the Libya Herald, in which he referred to the attack as an act of terror carried out by those who “want to stop the formation of the Libyan state.”

While the security situation in Libya has remained a major cause for concern since the fall of Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, unlike the attack in Benghazi in which US Ambassador Christopher Stevens died last year, last week’s car bombing was in the capital and constituted the first major attack on a foreign embassy there.

Immediately after the attacks, links were made to the French intervention in nearby Mali, given

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Madrid view: Zero foreign policy

Spain’s foreign policy is in a critical state. Due to the crisis, true; but also due to decisions made in recent years. We need only take a close look at the three pillars that sustain the exterior action of any country: diplomacy, defence and development. As for diplomacy there are a number of elements that have combined to create the present situation. Most obvious of these is the crisis, which has had a serious impact on Spain’s capacity for international action. Spain, which always had to jockey for elbow room between the big states of the EU, now has a hard time not just being influential but merely being heard in Europe, not to mention outside it.

The crisis has also relegated the Foreign Ministry to a back seat in favor of Economy and Finance, whose decisions are now the ones that count internationally. This tendency, which is general in Europe, means that foreign ministers,

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