The EU has outlived its purpose as an ordering force in Europe. It is incapable of addressing the historical challenge facing the West: its rising geopolitical competition with revisionist powers. It failed to radiate security on its frontiers to the east and south. And it has proven too weak to keep in check the unilateral policies of its largest member, Germany. In brief, the EU cannot compete, cannot secure its borders, and cannot keep Europe’s balance.
While the U.S. has finally awakened to the necessity of competing with rival great powers such as China and Russia, the EU is stuck in a post-modern daze. In that worldview, the main threats are not to the wellbeing of a polity but to what is seen as a higher purpose of international politics: multilateralism. As Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for foreign policy, affirmed in a September 2018 speech, the “priority of our work will be to strengthen a global network of partnerships for multilateralism.” (my emphasis) Multilateralism is the foreign policy goal, not just a means; process trumps outcomes.
Such confusion of goals and means is understandable, perhaps. EU members rarely agree on foreign policy, leaving ambitious EU politicians with little to do except to push for process and more process. Multilateralism—endless paeans to dialogue and understanding—thus becomes the objective that few oppose because at first sight it does not appear to be noxious. What can be so bad about a slew of meetings in Geneva or Paris among global partners working to enhance multilateralism?