Brexit, the Moral Identity of the EU, and the Return of the International

Late last year, Tony Abbott, the former Australian Prime Minister, was ridiculed for his contribution to the Brexit debate.   Abbott’s article for The Spectator in October, ‘How to save Brexit’ set out the basic point that not being prepared to walk away with no deal weakens the UK’s negotiating position, but then pushed a simplistic vision of the glories of a Britain trading under WTO rules.  So far, so usual edge of plausibility forgettable Brexit dream.

However, it was something he said in a later interview with Brendan O’Neill that caught my attention (the Brexit discussion starts from 47 mins in). In setting out why the EU would never give the UK a good deal he went beyond the usual strategic reasons of discouraging others from leaving, to move on to ‘theological’ territory; because the EU sees itself as a ’morally superior alternative to nation states” leaving is ultimately immoral, a going backwards, an atavistic return to the anarchic world of a warring states system.

This is an astute point I have not seen made that often.  The usual moral framing of the Brexit debate is to do with either sovereignty, or trade and economic impacts.  Yet it is precisely from this belief in the EU’s transcendence of the nation state that the EU derives its moral identity and self-image as a uniquely legitimate international actor. And, it is this self-image that in turn builds leaving into more than a damaging political and economic blow, to become an immoral act. Continue reading “Brexit, the Moral Identity of the EU, and the Return of the International”

The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 3: Geographical Distribution.

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Part 2 established the existence of a social fabric linking foreign policy think tanks across Europe.  In this section I first highlight the significant contribution this makes to the possibilities for EU foreign policy, before then mapping more explicitly the geographical distribution of this network. Continue reading “The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 3: Geographical Distribution.”

The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 2: The Policy Institute Network

In this post I start to map out the network of policy institutes involved in the EUGS.

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In part one I outlined why the process involved in the formation of the European Union Global Strategy was important.  Having identified a significant role for think tanks in this process, I now begin to map out the relationships between these think tanks by looking at the interlinkages between their governance boards. Continue reading “The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 2: The Policy Institute Network”

The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 1: The Importance of the Process

EUGS FlagThe Importance of the European Union Global Strategy Process
The European Union Global Strategy, Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe. A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS ), was welcomed by the European Council in June 2016.  The strategy aimed for a ‘step-change’ in the European approach to security and defence.  The rapid and coherent follow up action[1] is widely seen to reflect ‘a new seriousness in Europe about strengthening our joint foreign and security policies’.  One year on in June 2017, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP), noted that in security and defence, ‘more has been achieved in the last ten months than in the last ten years’. Continue reading “The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 1: The Importance of the Process”

NATO – Jeremy Corbyn and a New Cold War

natoOn demilitarisation Corbyn is dangerously wrong.  Perceived weakening of commitments to collective defence risks instability and war.  Even a ‘new Cold War’ is preferable.  The election of Donald Trump presents an opportunity to re-forge the alliance. Europe should increase its commitments to NATO, Europeanising it in the process. Continue reading “NATO – Jeremy Corbyn and a New Cold War”