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European Union, ambitions of power in question

Relaunch, power, belonging. These are the three words “Who embody (l’) European ambition ”, according to President Emmanuel Macron, who will participate in the European Council on December 16 and 17. He intends to convince his counterparts that this triptych – detailed during his presentation of the priorities of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (PFUE) – is what Europe needs. With the ” Powerful “ as a central element, “The condition of the European model that we must preserve and promote in the world”.

A training force being tested

MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (Renew Europe) supports the doctrine, which can be applied in several areas. “We must try to understand why the commercial power of the EU and the attractiveness of the internal market do not translate into political power”, she notes, considering that the Union must “To embark China and the United States in the green and digital transitions”. By multiplying the standards on the Old Continent (with the “green pact” in particular), the European Union also wants to serve as a ” model “ to the rest of the world. Same thing regarding the “Digital sovereignty” dealt with through the bills for digital services and markets, the “DSA” and the “DMA”.

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At the end of November, on a visit to Paris, Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova made no secret of the fact that the EU was “An unprecedented effort to try to set up global standards to regulate the digital sector”. “Either Europe decides on its standards, or it will have to comply with the standards of others”, adding “Not wanting Chinese standards in Europe”.

It is also to stand up to China that the EU is deploying and strengthening its trade defense instruments. The “New business strategy” of Europe wants to be, according to the chastised language of Brussels, more ” affirmed “. The EU instrument on international public procurement (to impose reciprocity of access) may soon be the subject of an agreement. The Commission has also proposed a regulation against unfair foreign subsidies, as well as a tool to counter the “Coercive actions” (understand: blackmail) of third countries.

Governance difficulties

The task does not promise to be easy for a Europe which has difficulty speaking with one voice. The trio formed by the Commission “Geopolitics” led by Ursula von der Leyen, the European Council chaired by Charles Michel, fond of being in the foreground, and the European External Action Service (EEAS), placed under the leadership of Josep Borrell, is not functioning properly. The new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose first summit in Brussels will be, could also arrive with his vision. The German coalition contract puts forward an idea: to make the EEAS a “Real ‘EU foreign ministry'”. And so, maybe, to be able to embody this “Europe power”.

→ ANALYSIS. European project: the risk of the Franco-German crossover

The observation remains bitter for the political scientist Olivier Costa, author of a study on the question (1): “The EU has not been able to forge the world according to its idea (multilateralism, peaceful cooperation, etc.) and according to its values ​​(democracy, human rights, progressivism, sustainable development, cohesion, etc.), and it must to adopt a more traditional approach to international relations in order to escape decline. “

Based on the preliminary findings consulted by The cross, the Twenty-Seven subscribed to the idea of ​​a certain “European sovereignty”. The concept of“Europe power”, which remains controversial in the field of defense, has little chance of being taken up as such, considers Maxime Lefebvre, French Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). “It scares a number of partners who, on the one hand, do not want to take over an ambition that could suggest that it aims to challenge or counterbalance American power (…) and, on the other hand, fear Franco-German leadership from which they would be excluded ”, he wrote in a note from the Robert-Schuman Foundation. There are three months left to find the right words, before the summit which will adopt the EU’s “strategic compass” next March.

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