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European Union as a leading international player

The European Union is a new and unique player on the international scene. There is not and has never been anything like this in the history of mankind. Applying ordinary or traditional approaches to it does not make sense, nor does it really help to understand its role in international affairs and its conduct in the international arena. However, until recently, most politicians and international experts were doing just that. And the results are well known. A number of catch phrases and bywords have enriched world folklore and serious studies, reflecting an utter lack of understanding of the essence of the phenomenon and unwillingness to sort things out.

There are two most popular jokes which usually travel from one presentation to another. The first is said to belong to Henry Kissinger. As the US State Secretary, he asked for a telephone number to be used in case of emergency or crisis for contacting the European Community (European Union).

The second is rather a collective creative product which claims, quite seriously though somewhat teasingly, that the EU, having long become a world economic giant, has yet remained a political dwarf. And its common foreign and security policy is claimed to be neither common, nor foreign, and even no policy at all. In all major international developments, crucial for the world at large, it played a secondary role and revealed a conspicuous inability to act. It happened so always, starting with the Suez crisis and up to the recent wars in the Balkans and the Middle East.

But it has not been true for quite a long time as many things have changed. And still there seems to be no will to get rid of disrespectful characteristics of the EU…

In fact, the strange situation in which the EU has found itself may be better described by the following simple story. Imagine a roadster race, Tour de France, Girga d'Italia or any other, at any of the stages. Some strongest and toughest racers are breaking away from the peloton. It is not far from the finish. And suddenly one of them (with the EU logo on the T-shirt) feels that that's the end. He is breathless, exhausted and cannot go on, almost on the verge of collapsing right on the road. But the rider knows that the others have covertly taken some “bio-stimulants”, perhaps he has seen it before…So, he begs for help, pleading them to give him some doping drugs. And they do give him a tablet. He swallows it, and it works miracle! In a minute, he is back to life and off he goes, twice as fast as before. He overtakes the others and finishes first. After the awarding ceremony he runs up to them asking for more doses to be used in future. And they are laughing in response saying:” It's just a matter of your mental state. We gave you a “void” tablet, a placebo. It had an impact not on your muscles which are O.K. but on your brain!”

The placebo which Brussels invented for itself at the turn of the new millennium, and on the eve of an ill-prepared and hasty expansion, was a constitutional process with its unclear goals. The old EU members placed their stakes on designing and accepting the Treaty which would lay down a Constitution for Europe (i.e. for the European Union). But it was a miscalculation. The idea was rejected at the referendums in France and the Netherlands. The Treaty on the reform has become a second attempt, more humble and less ambitious.

The EU drastically needed reforms, it is true. The institutions should be better adapted to new conditions, new realities should be taken into account and the entire integration mechanism was and is in need of re-adjustment. But Brussels wanted more. It got convinced that all the problems could be resolved at once (like in the 1950-s, when it hurried to create “on the sand” a failed defense and political union). It wanted to launch a constitutional revolution and to proclaim a postmodern super-state with all the appropriate attributes in order to act less conspicuously but more efficiently, instead of making a standard choice in favour of the policy of “small things”, introducing small, consistent and interrelated changes, at which it has been much more successful.

The truth is that the European Union does not require deep transformation. It does not need any basic restructuring or inventing a new philosophy of integration, or changing the principles of its functioning. What it does need, is shifting priorities, modernizing the current policies and adapting itself to tougher and merciless rules of globalization. In other words, it is high time to give up demagogy. It is necessary to learn to understand and defend its own interests, which means using more efficiently its enormous inherent potential and natural advantages.

The European Union has long become a super-powerful holistic entity. The attempts to call it, or compare it to, a super-state, or an empire, can only create confusion and are, in fact, pointless. The EU is entirely different, and it has no analogies, which does not make it weaker or helpless. As to self-identification, there is a long way to go. The same is true of realizing its responsibility for expressing common and global, and not private and sometimes vested, interests. Brussels is not yet mature for this.

And there are no guarantees that it will cope with the intrinsic and complex contradictions and will survive in the struggle for global competitiveness. The problems to be addressed by the EU are different in principle from other leading world players'. And Brussels often views it in a distorted way. Neither does it succeed in viewing itself extrinsically.

However, such a look at the European Union as a leading international player from outside is particularly needed. Therefore, it is indispensable to analyze the specific features of the EU without haste, step by step, in order to understand its legal framework for in external economic and political functioning, to study major directions of its external activities and policies and to get a glimpse of the future of this unique integrated entity.

EU special features

It must be stressed once again that the European Union is really a strange and incomprehensible political creature. This is how it defines itself. The European Union consists of hundreds and thousands of contradictions. None of its features can be assessed unequivocally as negative or positive. They should merely be diagnosed correctly.

What must be borne in mind is that the EU has a very complicated internal structure. The EU process of generating ideas, preparing decisions and decision making, as well as decision implementation and review, is different from other major international players, be it states or international organizations. The rational and the irrational reveal themselves in various ways. Many processes are hidden from observation and take place at the levels of governance which are actually monitoring them. They may also be caused by the factors which are not obvious at all.

This creates problems for the European Union itself, as well as for its partners. They do not have a clear idea of whom they are dealing with or what they have agreed upon, who is responsible and for what, what can be expected in future etc. Thus, an indispensable feature of the EU conduct, as well as of the structure of its ties with the rest of the world and major international players, is its variability. It is really difficult to predict EU actions and to forecast how the relations with the EU will develop. The EU conduct internationally is consistently aimed at promoting its interests and is rarely counted among its merits.

EU without borders

One encounters strange things right from the start, or from what other leading international players take for granted and as a strictly defined constant, i.e. certainty about the borders and basic importance of state sovereignty.

Formally, the European Union consists of 27 sovereign states. They are all full-fledged members of the Union. Their total territory makes up a single EU territory. Citizens of member-states are EU citizens and have additional rights granted by EU citizenship. The external borders of member-states make up the common EU border with the rest of the world. The internal borders have been mostly done away with.

However, it is not that simple. Political and geographical borders of the EU are not stable. They may change at any moment. The EU has not yet finalized the area of its living space. We can only make guesses as to where the external expansion may stretch. The final decision on its external borders has not yet been taken by Brussels and by the 27 capitals. Some states would like to proceed with it, while others would rather draw a line somewhere. Some believe that the European Union has gone too far with the integration. Others would like even more. The signals sent by various inner forces are quite contradictory.

Thus, the Balkan policy has long been considered as internal. The absorption of the sub-region is just a matter of time. It will start with Croatia and will proceed till all the Balkan countries become members of the European community. In April 2009, accordingly, Albania submitted an application for accession.

The EU has designs for Moldavia, Ukraine, Belorussia and even the Transcaucasia. In any case, Brussels is actively making passes at the political elites of these countries. Their dreams of joining the EU are skillfully encouraged. Under the Lisbon Treaty any of them can claim membership if the political and economic criteria are met. The neighbourhood and Eastern partnership policies take care of the compliance with these criteria. Being European countries, they conform to the legal and geographical criteria a priori.

As to Turkey, the Rubicon seems to have been crossed. The country has been given a candidate status. And still, at the current pace, the negotiations may last endlessly.

The EU Southern borders don't seem to present any problems. Israel has been persuaded out of acceding. The most developed countries of Northern Africa which took the risk of applying or preparing for it have been recommended to withdraw the applications and cool down. But it is not that simple either, there are some subtleties

The EU seeks to involve the entire Mediterranean region, including the Black Sea basin, and to impose its values and standards on them. Historically, the former colonial states, now EU members, used to dominate there. Their cultural and political influence is really great in the region regarded by the EU as a natural ally. It is a source of raw materials and cheap labour, also making the EU younger. Sustainability and accelerated development of the Mediterranean region is vitally important for the EU.

All recent EU initiatives to create a Mediterranean Union are imbued with such considerations. In principle, such plans may certainly be assessed as utopia. But one cannot help seeing their yet unrealized potential. The EU can use its natural advantages which other major international players lack, such as a large set of integration measures, easy to use and at its disposal. And this is quite a lot.

The belt of stability and neighbourhood which the EU is seeking to create is not the only goal of integration. The EU is making a point of positioning itself as far as it can reach, proposing its own patterns of state and law construction and the established model of social and economic development to individual countries and groups of countries which tend to “flock together”.

After the alternative offered by the Soviet Union had vanished and the US messianism had been seriously discredited through excessive use of force, it seemed that the future of the world was to be European. However, quite recently the EU got an unexpected and smart rival in the competition for becoming a role model and, accordingly, in the fight for markets, as well as for economic and political influence. In terms of soft force, the EU started yielding not to Washington but to Shanghai consensus.

Lack of internal uniformity

When the cold war ended the European Union made a difficult political choice in favour of external expansion. Thus, it actually gave up, for the time being, hopes for further integration. Brussels did not reject it but it just did not succeed in it. And it started along the avenue of extensive development postponing other more ambitious plans for future. The expansion was fruitful on the one hand, but on the other, a lot has been lost.

The EU received extraordinary political dividends and won the gratitude of peoples having completed the mission of uniting Europe. It extended the space of individual freedom, stability and prosperity as far as Central, East and South-East Europe. In return, he got access to enormous and underestimated assets (i.e. bought it up cheap), a new endless area for safe capital investment and cheap, culturally similar and skilled labour force. The common market expanded greatly. And the EU population reached 450 million people. Brussels received an enormous valuable prize.

But the integration community lost its major merit. It was no longer uniform and cohesive. It absorbed nations with almost non-compatible historical backgrounds. Now it unites people who have different values and behavioral attitudes.

The “twenty seven” now is not what the original ‘six' or “twelve” or “fifteen” used to be. This is an entirely new political and economic space which is much more difficult to organize and to manage as there are too many member-states.

One may think that all member-states are alike as they belong to a single European culture. But even within the same culture there is a great diversity. The European community includes now the Scandinavian people with their own Northern mentality. It also has South-East Europe with a very different outlook. The EU stronghold has always been Germany which has always given priority to law and order and prefers better organized and more predictable relations. Bright colours are added to the picture by the highly emotional Mediterranean countries with their thousand-long history. The picture is really varied. It contains everything: conspicuous contradictions, as well as richness and diversity of cultures, so important for development...

But it comprises not just different countries and nations. There is a great disparity in the levels of historical, economic and political development because the income of the rich EU members is 35 times as high as that of the poorest ones. The gap is too large. And the diversity presents great problems for the European Union: how to align different vectors of interests and bring them to agreement, how to harmonize economic relations without destroying the economies of individual countries and concurrently develop the entire economic space, as well as where to find so much money. On the other hand, it may be considered an advantage, as within a large common market comprising millions of individual and collective consumers regions with different levels of development, resources and specialization can supplement each other. Skillful use of these advantages is instrumental for de-localisation of production, re-channeling financial flows and encouraging labour migration without taking them out of the common economic space. And within the space, it is possible to seek for the best economic solutions.

The diversity is an obvious disadvantage, putting it most diplomatically, in the external area as well. Each member-state, or a group of states, has its own, sometimes diametrically opposed, interests, like in the case of Iraq's invasion, for example. It is not always possible to bring them to a common denominator. Thus, Spain seeks to involve more and more Latin American countries in cooperation. For Finland, the Northern dimension is closer. Greece is engrossed in the Balkans. And the countries of this sub-region have their own agenda, while metropolitan countries impose on the EU giving priority attention to the affairs of their former colonies etc.

Great powers, EU members, have global ambitions. They seek to establish EU presence across the planet. They are personally involved in all the major international processes. Some of them meet in the UN Security Council, others are striving for it. Not a single important international format of cooperation or interaction of limited composition (like, for example, G-8 or G-20) can do without them. The same is true of special structures for settling most acute international conflicts and problems. One can recall the initiative of the leading EU “troika” on Iran and a specially designed negotiation format created by them. On the contrary, for most of the member-states, and primarily for Central European and Baltic countries, an absolute priority is EU positioning as a regional power. They come out for active involvement of their direct and indirect neighbours in the EU activities and for bringing them closer to the integration community.

There is a great variety of interest groups in the EU. While Old Europe is ready to criticize the USA and to compete with it for world influence, the New Europe acts as an active medium for the USA influence which brings the latter tangible dividends: US support helps them to have more weight and independence in the EU affairs. The founding states would like to build up the EU independent military capabilities and develop command and control structures. The newcomers tend to consider it rather as a threat. The major continental powers are struggling to retain a privileged position in energy for their transnational corporations and to confirm their leading positions in world economy having a free hand to act. Those states which depend on external energy supplies are stubbornly imposing on others a transfer of competence to supranational level with the support of the European Commission. The EU members who modernized the structure of their economies and staked on new economy and market de-regulation insist on further globalization and liberalization of international trade. Those whose population is largely engaged in traditional and classical manufacturing sectors are not against balancing the freedom of trade by reasonable protectionist measures. Different countries are differently affected by the problems of legal and illegal migration, separatism, international terrorism, organized crime etc. The examples are numerous and could be cited endlessly. And there is also a traditional division between “Euro-enthusiasts” and “Euro-skeptics”, advocates of a people's union and supporters of a union of states etc. Thus, the range of different interests and positions within the EU is enormous.

Therefore, the EU is not able to achieve consensus on various foreign political and economic issues. Frequently, it comes up late with important decisions or even gets paralyzed. Its position may be badly articulated or unclear. Sometimes, it so happens that the caravan of member-states is dragging slower than the slowest camel. Instead of a single voice we hear a stunning and badly tuned chorus. Other international players tend to neglect the EU standpoint on certain issues of the world agenda.

But there is the other side of the coin. The variety of interests results in the EU being interested in a large range of issues and regions. It is ready to pursue an active foreign and economic policy in all directions. Working for and promoting their private priorities, individual EU countries can be supported by the consolidated power of the entire integration community and often resort to it (or even abuse it). When the EU does succeed in reaching a decision which is to everybody's liking and in elaborating a unified plan of action, it usually proceeds with their implementation consistently, uncompromisingly, stopping short at nothing and giving priority only to its own benefit. And how to get what it wants, the EU knows well, making up a powerful fist used in its relations with third countries which very few are able to resist. In such cases the EU also manifests incredible coordination of actions and distribution of roles.

Lack of EU uniformity, as well as diversity and urgency of problems, give rise to another phenomenon which is usually hushed up in the studies of the European project. European integration came about largely because Western Europe had to counter a common enemy. No less than Robert Schumann and Jean Monet, Stalin, in a way, became a “Godfather” of integration processes on the opposite side of the continent, though an evil one. Even now, a search for an external enemy remains ideal for EU solidarity. In turn, Brussels tries for this role either international processes and phenomena which are hostile for Europe, or individual countries, religions and cultures (though it has never been admitted). Concurrently, pursuing a tough and uncompromising policy in the international arena, Brussels is seeking to make up for its internal looseness.

Making member-states hostage to the common and agreed line on the international scene or to private interests of one or several countries is just a secondary instrument in the palette of EU consolidation tools without which one cannot imagine the EU now.

Solidarity factors

The factors of EU member-states solidarity, in varying degrees, are: the same geographical location, common historical background, cultural heritage and political values, close interests and hope that the community will neutralize contradictions and reinforce international competitiveness. Though they do not explain why West European countries, now joined by most other European nations, have succeeded in their integration project. They could have lived in peace, prosperity and conciliation without testing new forms of organization for coexistence fraught with losing independence and sovereignty, as well as yielding power to each other. The organizational solutions tried and tested by them have not taken root elsewhere. The integration project has become irreversible thanks to a special and unique legal order, qualitatively new political culture of common decision-making and implementation and joint management of sovereignty.

Supremacy of legal provisions

The European Union is at a time an extravert and an intra-vert. It implies that the EU obviously and consistently is separating itself from the rest of the world creating external borders along the perimeter of the entire community and a legal space regulated by its own internal mechanisms different from international ones.

Accordingly, the relations between member-states, as well as with the subjects of member-states' internal law, are more and more regulated by the EU law. In case of collision of the national legislation and the EU law, only, and exclusively, the latter applies. It is applied by all national, administrative and judicial bodies. Individuals and legal entities use it directly to establish their legal relations.

It is not allowed to resolve disputes over the issues falling within the EU competence by the bodies set up on the basis of common international law. Which international agreements have a direct effect and directly apply in the EU territory is decided by the EU proper. How the member-states will implement their international obligations falling under the competence of the integration community is also determined by the latter.

At the same time, the EU seeks to propose a regulatory framework of existence for its partners and the rest of the world. This became particularly pronounced in 2008 – 2009 during the world financial and economic crisis when the EU member-states came out for stronger regulating role of law and convention mechanisms in world economy and for putting in order the activities of all and any financial institutions. And it concerned not only the extension of the basics of law domination to financial markets implying control, transparency, responsibility and strict compliance with the rules but also the elaboration of appropriate documents. Brussels is confident that it is the right time for embracing the initiative. Its projects of national, supranational and international legislation should be put on the negotiation table and no one will be able to neglect them.

The EU has established a network of relationships supported at the regulatory level practically across the whole world. They are described by the agreements on the customs union and free trade zones, on association, stabilization, partnership and cooperation, on common and single spaces, etc. Cooperation and interaction based on them are of conditional nature, which means that certain conditions should be met for a third party to get benefits from cooperation and interaction. This implies compliance with the rules of the game set by Brussels, including the recipes of the approved legal prescriptions. The only country which did not agree to the conditionality of relations with the EU was Australia. It refused to include in the agreement with the EU a standard clausula which the European Union multiplies in its bilateral relations. As became known, Brussels did not have enough levers for exercising pressure on Canberra. All the others assumed obligations to go, more or less, along the way of harmonizing their national legislations with the EU law.

It is worth clarifying why regulatory aspects are so important. It is the EU regulatory nature and regulatory features that make it so distinct. The EU is not just an economic or social and economic community, nor just an economic and monetary union. The EU functions through law and on the basis of law using legal instruments. All political, economic or any other solutions are shaped as EU legal norms and are executed as norms of law, and not because of their feasibility or a political setup. They are endowed with a force of law, and the entire power of law enforcement of national states is available to provide for them.

All the diversity of countries and such a varied geographical, economic and political space are integrated through, and thanks to, common law. Particularly zealously the EU cares about its uniform application. No staggering and tottering typical of international law is allowed. The EU is well-equipped with excellent, tried and tested, structures, procedures and mechanisms. Even more important is that supranational law and national law make up a single whole. Consequently, the EU legal norms are guarded by the national subjects of law whose interests are served by the integration law better and more efficiently than the national law. And the interests consist in the day-to-day use of the advantages of the common market and freedoms it is based on.

Thus, the EU provides for the promises and agreements of the supranational level to be actualized in the member-states' internal law. Without this, it cannot and is not going to exist. And the actualization in the member-states internal law is either uniform, or similar and comparable. This is the meaning of EU legal harmonization. The common law is ramified and layered, modern and efficient, covering all areas of activities under the EU jurisdiction and it enables the EU to address the super-task set for it. Through this, the common market becomes effective and very fruitful, beneficial for business, EU citizens and member-countries. The important thing is that the accumulated experience of creating a common market by legal means is widely used for creating common market analogues in various promising areas of activities, from education to mutual recognition and execution of court judgments, all that is covered by the concept of freedom, security and justice space.

Political culture of solidarity

To be qualified as a legal community is not sufficient for explaining how the European Union succeeds in weakening its strong centrifugal forces, coping with heterogeneity and resolving internal conflicts. Another component of the success is a specific political and legal culture nurtured by it.

It is not enough to have state-of-the art laws. It is crucial to make them work. It is not enough to create objective prerequisites for the united actions. It is necessary that united actions should become routine practice. It is fine to lay down the basis for coordinating foreign economic activities and foreign policy and to set the organizational framework for consolidating the efforts in this direction. But much more is needed to implement it. There should be readiness to make concessions and a political will to sacrifice individual ambitions and interests, consistently aiming at specific results. In a word, it is an appropriate political culture that is required.

Such a culture is needed for the member-states and all EU systems to proceed from a definite set of principles. The member-states, as minimum, do not allow their private national interests to prevail over the common interests of the other countries and subordinate theirs to the common interests, work for identifying these common interests, articulate them and consistently defend and promote them. In parallel, they seek to make use of the advantages of individual countries and groups for the common good.

An example of efficient combination of high individual and collective political culture in the process of integration is the smoothness of accession to the EU by Sweden, Finland and Austria which occurred in 1995. Before this, several times running, the European Community had accepted economically less developed countries which had just got rid of authoritarian yoke. The Northern countries and Austria compared well with the most advanced members of the European community. And their values did not differ at all. Besides, they made a tangible contribution to the EU economic potential. And they in no way damage its homogeneity. On the contrary, they made integration even more sustainable.

And still, outsiders are outsiders. It usually takes them a lot of time to master the traditions of the core member-states, to perceive common imperatives and to comply with foreign legal practice. Therefore, though the newcomers had to meet very high standards, their arrival may have affected the discipline and quality of decision-making. But it had not happened. The EU managed to avoid a traditional temporary malfunctioning due to acclimatization when the common denominator of decisions-making is usually getting lower.

The Northern countries at once brought an added value to the EU internal policies and international activities.

They gave the EU and the world an environmental agenda, enriched the European model of social and economic development with new elements and introduced to the world the concept of sustainable development. Other EU members had their own preferences. At first, they considered the proposals by the Nordic countries a superfluous burden for their national producers. But in the final analysis, the Northern members got their way and all the other member-states had to accept their approaches. Protection of the environment became a horizontal requirement for any type of EU activities and its major foreign policy priority. The common economic and foreign policy was agreed upon on the basis of the highest and not the lowest standards.

The EU political culture of mutual concessions and compromises in accordance with the highest standards, and not a common denominator, had long been regarded as a “specialty of the house” (this compared favourably with other classical international organizations which were not, typically, making any headway). One of its ingredients is a formula according to which the member-states are working together if they are interested in cooperation. If not, they do not interfere with others. The EU founding documents envisage a lot of mechanisms of integration at different pace, and they are actively used.

Though, regretfully, one has to admit that the political culture, having emerged in the EU over decades, has now seriously degraded. At the accession negotiation stage, New Europe supported Old Europe in all its initiatives unconditionally. The latter got convinced that it will last forever. However, on acquiring EU membership, New Europe got its own voice. And it turned out that the new members do not always agree with everything that exists in the practice of the European Union. It is not an axiom for them that they should sacrifice something for the sake of others. They have got their own vision of the ways and aims of European integration. They had been restraining themselves for so many years not just to give up their individualistic plans and intentions.

One can recall how much more problematic the accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey had become after the EU accepted Cyprus. The relations between the twenty seven and Russia have not stabilized yet. And the saga of the Constitutional Treaty and the Reform Treaty will be remembered by Old Europe for a long time. In both cases, Warsaw demanded to retain the privileges which it had got under the Nice Treaty, presumptuously promising to block the approval of the documents and to disrupt the emerging consensus.

By late 2009, the EU framework gave rise to a fundamentally new situation: the initiative of formulating ideological and foreign policy orientations was partially shifted on to the Baltic countries and Poland, as well as countries supporting them. They proposed their own interpretation of the solidarity principle and the way the emerging balance of interests within the EU should be counted. And still, vehement individualism, blackmailing and obstructionism, minority rule, coercion to reject reasonable and rational steps under the pretext of a distorted slogan of solidarity should be acknowledged as a temporary failure in the evolution of EU general political culture.

European integration has always been strong because of its positive programme. A negative one cannot facilitate progress. It can only contribute to losing a soft force and to weakening international competitiveness. The sooner Brussels refuses to move at the speed of the slowest camel in the caravan, the better for the EU and for the third countries which are disposed in its favour and are seeking to establish partnership relations with it.

Joint management of sovereignty

Another “hoop” drawing the EU heterogeneous space in like a barrel is a partial transfer of sovereign powers by the member-states up to the supranational level. Logically, yielding sovereignty should imply that the states become in a way flawed. As they are no longer fully legally capable on the international scale, they lose self-sufficiency and, to a certain extent, control over their internal and external policy.

In the case of the EU, this logic does not work. The transfer of some sovereign powers to the supra-national level does not impoverish but enriches the member-states. They yield a part of their sovereignty and get in return dozens of “parts” shared with them by their integration partners. As a result, they get engaged in joint management of numerous sovereignties, reinforcing each and every member-state, opening up new prospects for them and enabling them to use the cumulative integration potential for achieving common and individual goals.

In this perspective, the major EU bodies, called its institutions, act as managers administering the sovereign powers delegated to them. Today and tomorrow of the European Union depend on their professionalism, leadership qualities, and ability to appropriately formulate tactical and strategic targets and to replace or coordinate the efforts of member-states. Brussels and other capitals have long been focusing on their re-adjustment to meet the needs of the European Union of three dozens of states and to adapt to a new competitive international environment. This will be done after the Lisbon treaty becomes effective. So far, more fragmented palliative methods have been used. They consist in conducting gradual, and not always visible, point reforms using the recipes tried and tested by the Constitutional and Lisbon treaties and in restoring political and legal culture, as well as the culture of management.

The transfer of sovereign powers by the member-states to the supranational level, creation of supranational structures to manage them, mastering of the acquired powers and development of appropriate practice between various management levels entail complex, even intricate, vertical and horizontal symbiotic links. That is why the EU is perceived by all, internally and externally, as an extremely complex entity. However, it is the hierarchy, multiplicity, durability and flexibility of the links and their mutual support and complementarity that make the integration community highly sustainable and dynamic and the European project irreversible.

There is a strong internal logic in the enormous diversity of the ligaments drawing the community into a tight knot. The EU is endowed with four types of competences. In other words, the system of relationships between the member-states, between the member-states and EU institutions and between the EU institutions proper, is made up of several model ranges. In the areas of EU exclusive competence the states no longer perform any regulatory functions which are completely transferred to the supranational level. In those areas where the EU has a mixed competence, the states and the EU act jointly. The states retain regulatory functions but they can use them on their own as long as they have not reached agreement on a single legislation. When such legislation enters into force the states lose their regulatory functions and become a kind of an agent for enforcing common legislation. In the areas where the EU has only supporting competence, the role of the Union is reduced to helping the member-states in multilateral cooperation, assisting them but not interfering in administering regulatory functions. Finally, if the EU is entrusted with a parallel competence, it can replace the member-states anywhere without preventing them from playing an independent role and acting individually. Legislative mechanisms are not used in this case. The role of the European Commission is weakened. Control by the European Court of justice is not envisaged. The factor of political will becomes critical: when the EU has exclusive competence, negative consequences of the conflict of interests are actually prevented from coming into play. Political culture of decision making and execution becomes much more important.

A parallel competence is used for establishing ties in foreign, security and defense policy. The European Community had exclusive, mixed and supporting competence. Under the Reform treaty they are inherited by the European Union. Cooperation of the police and judicial bodies in combating crime involved the use of instruments of interstate and supranational level. The new treaty envisages its communitarisation.

With the Lisbon Treaty coming into force, the EU horizontal structure consisting of three different pillars will sink into oblivion. Cooperation of the police and judicial bodies will lose its uniqueness. It will be regulated the same way as the common market is. But most of the special features of foreign, security and defense policy will be retained. And all this despite the fact that the European Community will swallow the other two pillars and will be renamed “the European Union” and will become a legal successor of itself. This is the gist of what will happen. Formally, it will look the other way round: the Community will stop to exist and only the Union will remain.

But what really matters is that the supranational nature of integration will be reinforced. Supranational ties will become more diverse. Their share and importance in the overall balance of ties within the EU will grow. The system of institutions and their work will be restructured accordingly. As a consequence of all these purposeful changes, the factors acting as tightening devices for the EU loose heterogenic space will become more efficient. The EU will be able, to a greater extent, to come out as a single whole, including in the international arena.

Legal and institutional deformations in the organization of foreign activities

An EU major weakness in the international arena of which it has always been reproached is believed to be the disunity of its foreign economic and foreign political activities. Research papers also regard it as something taken for granted which does not require any proof. The EU political elite consider it an obvious shortcoming as well.

In fact, there is no, and cannot be any, Chinese wall between what the EU is doing internationally in the foreign economic and foreign political spheres. Experts and politicians exaggerate the problem, intentionally or not. The disunity verdict is an established one and no one questions it. Researchers are accustomed to study the EU external activities and its common foreign and security policy separately. These two areas are even referred to different specializations. For politicians, state officials of various levels and EU leadership the disunity is a convenient excuse for their inaction and failures at the international level as it is believed to have shaped so historically. The member-states were not ready to give up more of their sovereignty that is why compromise solutions were taken in the past. The European Union was denied international legal standing. The Union was created in a way that the European Community was merely supplemented with new spheres and directions of the policy. But the Community and the Common Foreign and Security Policy were combined only formally. No union or merger actually happened.

All this is sheer nonsense. The Community and the Union have a single institutional structure. The Maastricht Treaty authorizes the EU Council and the European Commission to coordinate all activities irrespective of their sphere. The Council on General Issues and Foreign Policy consisting of foreign ministers considers foreign economic and foreign policy issues in the same format, just changing the hats. In practice it is absolutely impossible to separate them.

Here are some examples. The EU has brought to the fore the environmental issues. This is its business card in foreign affairs. It is promoting it by purely political means, through political dialogues with third countries and in international organizations. But the basis of the EU environmental foreign policy is purely economic. The Kyoto Protocol is written to this end. And with this in view, a totally new global market has been created for trading in carbon emissions quotas.

Extremely politicized is the EU external energy strategy, as well as the whole concept of energy security. In the name of energy security the EU takes economically ungrounded and very costly decisions to diversify the suppliers of hydrocarbons and energy sources, to build by-passes and alternative transcontinental pipelines etc. And it is guided by primarily global, as well as political and strategic, considerations. But the energy plans promoted by it become consistent only because the EU is writing new rules of the game (the third gas package) and is creating a common market for importing, producing, transporting and distributing electric power and hydrocarbons.

Here is an example from a different sphere. The EU is confronted with an acute problem of combating organized crime, illegal drug trafficking and illegal immigration, as well as of migration flows regulation. The problem can be solved, even partially, only through broad and efficient international cooperation. The EU is urged to engage in such cooperation by all countries with which it is developing trade and economic interaction and to whom it provides technical assistance, though only on its own terms. And the connection is obvious. Moreover, it is directly stated in the new generation of agreements concluded by the EU and third countries. Assistance and benefits from the access to the vast and attractive EU market are provided on condition of compliance with the requirements to limit emigration to the EU, to change legislation and law enforcement practice etc.

And still, there are grounds for complaints that the EU foreign policy and foreign economic activities could be much better, that they lack coordination, that something must be changed and that it is high time to introduce reforms. They are related to the fact that the EU is wearing two hats: it acts as a supranational body in the economic sphere and as an intergovernmental one in the foreign policy. And the gap between the two is nearly impossible to overcome. It is difficult but possible as the EU has got appropriate and robust procedures which have been tried and tested.

The gap is due to the fact that the foreign policy and foreign economic activities are implemented using different methods, procedures and management systems. In its foreign economic policy, the EU resorts to supranational tools. Supranational integration law is used as a legal basis for its actions. All actions are enrobed as law. The EU proper comes out as an integration community. Accordingly, natural and legal persons, along with the member-states, become the subjects of law which regulates foreign economic activities. The difference between external and internal commitments becomes blurred.

As to the common foreign and security policy, the situation is different. Common principles, targets, strategies and positions accepted by the EU are binding only for the member-states. They do not have intra-state dimension, they are not law and are not binding for individuals.

In Common Foreign and Security Policy priority is given to the vertical management framework. The European Council and the Council of the European Union are dominant. The European Commission plays a subordinate role. The European Parliament has an advisory vote. The Court of Justice is taken out of the game. The EU interests are represented by the presiding state which is assisted by the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy or in accordance with the Lisbon treaty by the permanent president and much more powerful High Representative. The decisions on all major issues, except for the concretization of what has already been agreed upon, are taken by consensus.

There is no vertical in the foreign economic sphere. The decisions are taken, as a rule, by a qualified majority. The driving force is the European Commission. The positions of the European Parliament are rather strong. They are being reinforced at a fast rate. The Court of Justice may be involved in exercising control over the legality of any actions and agreements.

The difference is striking. The important thing which explains it is that the member-states have given up a great, though limited, part of their sovereign powers in foreign economic, primarily foreign trade, activities for the common use. Though they have not, more or less, lost their regulatory functions, in certain cases they have lost them completely. The mechanism is as follows. According to the legal support concept, the EU has all the competence outside which it has within and which it needs for achieving the goals set, in particular, those related to creating and functioning of the common market. In the areas of EU exclusive competence, and when in areas covered by mixed competence common supranational legislation is effective, it prevails and prohibits member-states to adopt competitive regulatory acts individually. In those cases when it has already happened the EU is entitled not only to act and to act along with the member-states but to replace them or to brush them aside.

It never happens in foreign policy where there is no and cannot be any exclusive competence. The states have endowed the EU with almost limitless powers in foreign and security policy. But they have not lost their own and have not given them up. They are still playing quite an autonomous role on the international scene and act in parallel with and beside the EU. Therefore, the member-states seem to retain all their powers, and concurrently they are vested in the EU institutions. Consolidation of efforts becomes an imperative for both, the member-states and EU institutions. The common foreign and security policy is implemented by the coordination method which excludes, in principle, subordination of one state to another or a supranational level of management.

The differences in regulating and organizing foreign economic and foreign political activities create a lot of problems for the EU and member-states. They face a problem of choosing the best solution all the time. The following simple example can demonstrate it. Suppose that the EU is elaborating a policy in respect of an “X” country which is situated in tropical Africa. The country has gone through a civil or inter-ethnic war. As a consequence, it is full of weapons. To bring it back to peaceful life, the EU intends to buy out the weapons from individuals and to annihilate it. A similar method has already proved efficient. It has been tried more or less successfully in other places. The European Commission and a group of member-states come out with the initiative. The European Commission suggests doing it within the framework of the technical assistance programme, and the group of states insists on carrying it out under the auspices of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The difference consists in the following. If the technical assistance is chosen, the money is taken from the EU regular budget. The decision is taken by a majority of votes. All the functions for its execution are concentrated in the hands of supranational institutions. If a group of states succeeds in imposing their approach on the others, the decision is taken (or not) in accordance with the requirement of unanimity. And they have to look for the money needed for its realization. The Council of the EU and interested states retain full control over what is going on.

Thus, it turns out that it is not a matter of what to do or how to do it but a matter of distribution of influence within the EU. It may seem to be sheer technicalities. But they matter a lot for the EU. They predetermine the internal efficiency of the community, its ability to smooth over conflicts of interests and to turn the perpetual problem of conciliation of sovereignty from weakness into strength.

EU positioning in the international arena

There are always certain political forces behind political and foreign economic decisions, tactical steps and the choice of strategy. The EU mixes them. It pretends to be anonymous. It claims that its position reflects common interests. In fact, there are always players, primarily non-state ones, for whom Brussels's position and actions are more beneficial. It is sometimes easier and sometimes more difficult to identify them. But they are always there.

Meanwhile, a set of EU foreign economic and foreign political priorities are of statutory nature. They are laid down in its founding treaties. Among them, there is protecting and promoting the interests of the EU as a single whole, spreading the EU common values across the world and achieving a set of standard goals like peaceful relations in compliance with the UN Charter and even prosperity for all, as well as a fair international order.

In its foreign activities the EU used to give priority to eliminating all the barriers impeding the world trade and to the freedom of competition. In practice the EU had always pursued a pragmatic policy. It actively subsidized its own producers, particularly in agriculture. It tried to tie up the developing countries to itself using non-economic methods. It did not hesitate to close its internal market when deemed feasible. It has supported of late a system of measures designed to impose strict national control over foreign investments in strategic sectors. On the initiative of Nicolas Sarcozy, freedom of competition was taken off the list of the EU objectives in the Lisbon Treaty. Thus, the emphasis is placed primarily on a free access to the markets of third countries while having a free hand to protect its own market from undesirable competitors.

In the 1990-ies, the EU proclaimed sustainable development as a major foreign economic slogan. Brussels did its best for it to be included in the world agenda and to be reflected in the most important documents of international forums and organizations. Under the banner of sustainable development the EU succeeded in taking up leading positions at all international negotiations on economic issues. Its model of social and economic development was supplemented by the quality standards of economic growth which implied at a time less pressure on the environment. Sustainable development is considered by Brussels, tactically and strategically, as a major competitive advantage. Recently the EU started interpreting environmental issues broadly. Brussels has engaged all available forces to organize a broad international front for combating climate change.

Another area where the EU is positioning itself as a world leader is development aid. The EU is a major world donor. It allocates up to 20% of the total contribution by its member-states to the development aid programmes. Actually, its role is even m о re important as in most cases it acts not on its own but as a coordinator. Its aid and technical assistance are conditional. Of late, the terms and conditions for the recipients have been changing. Brussels believes that external assistance will be efficient only when the recipients are trying to help themselves. And it is difficult to judge how efficiently the money received is used. Opinions vary a lot on this point. The only thing is certain: Brussels is becoming more and more jealous watching China actively promoting its interests in developing countries on the basis of development aid.

In the political agenda the EU attaches priority to non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and local and regional conflicts settlement. The EU let slip India and Pakistan the same way as the United States. Though, unlike the latter, Europeans were simply unable to preclude nuclear ambitions of Asian giants. Now Brussels is building up efforts to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile technologies. It is involved in all major negotiation formats. It is actively working with Iran and closely watching what is under way in North Korea. It has prepared articulated proposals for improving the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime. However, the EU is not the number one player in nuclear weapons. And the nuclear club members are not afraid to evade the EU.

The EU is much better at settling local conflicts. It has conducted more than a dozen and a half civil and military operations on various continents. All of them were successful, though very limited contingents were engaged. Thus, the EU and its member-states have gained unique experience and have worked out procedures, interaction schemes, logistics and management by objectives. The EU is especially good at conducting post-conflict rehabilitation in affected countries, and not only because Brussels allocates impressive sums of money for this. It has a clear idea of what should be done for the central and local authorities to start working in a normal way acceptable for the West. The EU seems to be very willing to transfer this experience over to the post-Soviet space. Not without the New Europe countries influence, Brussels is ever more insistent on its involvement in the current settlement formats. It has already come to Georgia, most likely, to stay.

The large regional conflicts setup is worse. The EU does a lot in the Middle East in the economic plane. It is part of the Middle East “Quartet”. It has privileged relations with Israel, as well as with Arab countries, it launches foreign political initiatives and conducts secret negotiations. And still, having recognized the US undisputable leadership, it has to play secondary roles everywhere. Moreover, the EU bears solidarity responsibility together with the USA for what has happened in Iraq. Securing peaceful life in Afghanistan is becoming a hard trial for it and for NATO. The EU image as a leading international player and its international standing will, to a great extent, depend on how it will cope with this task.

The importance of the Mediterranean dimension, Eastern partnership and neighbourhood policy has already been stressed in the paper, now it is worth discussing in brief the geographical component of the foreign economic and foreign political hierarchy of priorities in the EU activities.

The most important partner of the European Union is certainly the USA. This is number one priority for the EU. The USA is not just its strategic partner, but the only truly reliable ally. Formally, the allied relations are secured by the North Atlantic Treaty. It is also worth mentioning the Transatlantic Charter as a bilateral instrument. Though, fundamentally, neither the EU, nor the USA needs any contractual commitments for their special relations. They are replaced by massive mutual investments, economic merger, enormous volumes of mutual trade, common interests, US military presence in Europe and homological legal orders.

Nonetheless, when Germany recently presided in the EU, the latter came out with the initiative of creating a common North Atlantic market. The institutions for serving mutual consultations were updated and the sectoral dialogues were launched. After Barak Obama took office in the White House in 2009, the EU came up with a proposal to elaborate and conclude a large scale treaty with the USA and to create a ramified institutionalized mechanism of engagement and coordination.

It is hard to believe that such ideas will be realized. The USA considers disadvantageous for itself to develop relations with the EU countries as a single entity. It is content with the way it has arranged it in NATO in which all EU countries are represented on an individual basis. The EU is not legally constituted as a group of states, and the USA can work with each of them individually. And this works well for the USA taking into account their different classes of weight.

The EU-US relations are certainly far from ideal. The regular trade wars are not worth mentioning at all. This is a trifle. By and large, the EU has not been content with the US financial policy over the last decades. Brussels is extremely dissatisfied with Washington's tendency to unjustified use of force in international affairs. It resents the unilateral approach to various problems and unwillingness to consult the EU, which is regularly manifested by the USA. The EU has a long list of tangible claims to Washington. The former would like the USA to accede to the Kyoto Protocol, to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to abolish death penalty and so on… A bilateral treaty is needed for the EU to switch the relations onto the legal field, with which it is much better familiarized, to impose on the US self-will numerous restrictions and to make the bilateral economic ties more efficient. But the USA has also got a lot of claims to the Europeans. The most important thing is that Americans regard Europeans as “white hands” afraid of hard work of imposing order on the world and seeking to shelter behind their back. And yet, whatever the psychological background, there is no alternative to the close EU-US union. This is, among other thing, the reason for the ecstatic “obamania” that swept EU citizens after the change in the US Administration.

Since not long ago China has ranked second in the system of relations between the EU and the external world. The trade turnover between China and the EU grew up to 400 billion euros in the period before the crisis, though it was developing in an irregular fashion. The EU deficit of the balance of payments in the trade with China is maintained at the level of 150 billion euros. But the EU has no doubts that China means extraordinary opportunities, it is an extremely promising market and it is necessary to establish long-term and stable cooperation with it.

However, China is not an easy partner. The EU does not know what kind of policy should be pursued towards it. There is no unity among the states in this respect. Moreover, some of them are actually excluded from participation in the policy elaboration. The political agenda is determined by the “heavy weight lifters”… And the others have to adjust to it. Economic interests in expanding ties with China also vary. But the differences in the positions are not confined to that. Actually, China defies the European model of social and economic development. It forces member-states to adapt faster to the changing conditions of competition in the world. However, they cope with it differently. One group of member-states (with Great Britain at the head) proposes to shut down the outdated production enterprises, to orient towards high technologies only and not to be afraid of Chinese exports. They claim that it is necessary to run up the technological staircase higher and higher, for China not to catch up and get ahead, and then to do utmost to accelerate technological development. And it is out of the question to liberalize international trade. Others (for instance, Italy and Germany) are scared by mass unemployment in the traditional economic sectors. They explain to the others that the economic structure will be rational and sustainable only if all the sectors, and not just high technologies, including labour intensive, with relatively low or medium added value, are retained and supported. And China should not be turned into an only world factory. The EU should continue to be such as well.

One has a strange impression of how zealously the EU is courting China and how the latter is responding to it. The European Commission has issued about a dozen Communications related to the policy towards China. It has repeatedly suggested that the member-states should introduce new and newer specifications, should diversify and extend the ties and use more varied instruments of the relationship. China condescended to officially formulate its policy in respect of the EU with great delay. And Beijing did not hurry to respond immediately to Brussels' proposal to draw up a large basic treaty for the rapidly developing ties. Thus, it is the EU who sought to establish close political ties with China and to institutionalize bilateral relations, in particular, after the United States had normalized relations with Beijing and agreed upon regular political consultations.

The general pattern of interstate interaction is now as follows. There is a hierarchy of contacts, a political dialogue at all levels and about 30 sectoral groups covering all major areas of economic and political cooperation, from industrial property protection to human rights. The EU and China have been working on the basic strategic partnership agreement for a number of years. The document should replace the traditional agreement on cooperation and trade. But the tonality of communication between the EU and China is changing dramatically. Brussels seeks to take up tougher and tougher positions on economic issues, in particular on those related to intellectual property protection and access to markets, though without tangible results so far. It stubbornly works for the Tibet autonomy issues and human rights to be included in the agenda in order to justify by any means the embargo on the military equipment supplies introduced long ago and in completely different conditions.

So, the conclusion is that the EU values primarily the relations with these two powers, the USA and China. In the official documents Brussels counts among his strategic partners also Japan, India and Russia. But the scope of relations with them is much narrower.

Interaction with the countries of Asia, Africa and the Caribbean Sea figures largely on the EU agenda. The EU seeks to tie them up to it politically and economically and to introduce its own model of social and economic development and state and law construction there. The EU renews the agreements on association on a regular basis making them ever more comprehensive and intensive. The agreements are asymmetric. They give to the developing countries a preferential regime, access to the EU common market, a status of the technical assistance recipient and possibilities to get involved in the EU policies, programmes and projects.

Not to a lesser degree it is beneficial for the EU proper and for its member-states. They secure the situation in which Brussels is sort of helping the rest of the world. It undertakes a “hard” mission of including the developing countries in the world economy and teaching them the ABC of democracy and rule of law. Together with them it works on overcoming poverty, improving state administration, modernization of legislation and law enforcement, combating corruption and so on and so forth.

The vector of the foreign policy and foreign economic activities and the guidelines mentioned above came into being not from scratch. They are the colonial legacy which was transformed by the EU and which had been created by the former metropolitan countries: Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and France, i.e. by a great many EU leading countries. It was especially important for them, on becoming EU members, not to lose their influence in the former colonies and to shift the responsibility for their development on to the EU. It is surprising how well the EU has coped with it. The whole world is convinced that it is the former metropolitan countries exclusively that are to blame for the policy of colonialism and that the EU has nothing to do with it. And since the former metropolitans mostly do not act on their own but through the EU, the heavy burden of the past in their relations with the former colonies is lifted, including contradictions related to the economic claims for plundering the resources and extermination of the aboriginal population. And the legitimacy of their presence in these countries and of their influence is retained.

Political dialogues, economic interaction and institutionalized cooperation with the developing world make the EU a truly global power. But its external expansion is carried out strictly on the regional and geographical basis and not according to the zones of interests. The first thing it focuses on is managing the surrounding territories and establishing efficient control over them, or (using the politically correct EU terminology) creating a neighbourhood belt with all the benefits and advantages of integration. Until recently, the Mediterranean region, Middle East and North Africa were given absolute priority by Brussels in this respect. After the expansion, a growing importance is attached to the East European countries, CIS, Trans-Caucasian states and even to Central Asia.

It is crystal clear why there are such trends in the evolution of the EU foreign policy and foreign economic activities. The EU core started considering new vectors of expansion after the EU borders had moved eastwards. New opportunities have emerged for it, and even more than that. The new Central European and South European member-states began lobbying it ever more insistently and dogmatically. They are extremely interested in using to advantage the economic and political might of the integration community in the relations with third countries bordering on them. And in this respect, the solidarity brought to the fore by the preceding EU development is taking on new and unexpected meanings.

As a result of all this, the EU Eastern policy is imminently running contrary to the interests of Russia. Over 2003 to 2009, the bilateral contradictions reached their peak. The brokerage role played by Paris and Brussels in August and September, 2008, in reaching an agreement on the cease fire terms after the attack of the Georgian Armed Forces on South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers did not ease them in any way. It just revealed what had long been felt intuitively: the mechanisms of managing partnership and cooperation created by both parties did not work. They were rolling idle and were constantly failing. They should be replaced or re-adjusted. It won't do to manage the affairs as it used to be. It should not be so because it has no prospects. Because it is unlikely that undermining your partner's positions and demonizing the country wherever possible, one can truly believe that the policy pursued towards this country is really friendly and persuade the political elite of it. This political course, no matter articulated or not, should have been given up long ago. The same goes for Jacques Delors's concept of concentric circles launched in the late 1980-s. The harm inflicted by it on the EU-Russia relations can be hardly overestimated. According to the concept, the EU core is in the centre of the world order. All the other countries are perceived as concentric circles around the EU. They are ranked according to their position in them. The core is followed by the EU periphery as it used to be before the recent explosive expansion of the integrated union. After it goes the ring of the neighbouring countries along the EU external border. Then follow all the rest. For more than two decades this approach predetermined the policy towards Russia which had been formulated and pursued by the EU and the member-states on basis of the residual principle. At present, Brussels and Moscow are reaping the fruits. Both sides will benefit if the paradigm is changed. And it cannot be otherwise as the EU-Russia cooperation potential is virtually unlimited. It remains to hope that the current negotiations on the new basic agreement will pave the way for its realization.


Looking into the future

T he European Union is already exerting a great influence on the global agenda and development, as well as on the resolution of the current international problems. The examples are environmental issues, sustainable development and combating climate warming. However, a number of Brussels' foreign political failures (the Balkan war, inability to prevent a systemic genocide in Africa, internal crisis related to Iraq) have produced a heavy psychological trauma. The EU political elite and member-states are convinced that the EU international activities could and should be more offensive and efficient.

The EU political weight in international affairs is much lower than its cumulative economic power. The elite lay the blame for it on bad management of EU foreign affairs, disunity of structures, volatility, lack of continuity and excessive decentralization. But in fact, it is not true, or not quite true. The reasons are not in the methods of managing foreign affairs. They arise from an objective clash of interests of the member-states in such a delicate area as foreign policy. They are associated with the parallelism of the activities of the EU and member-states in foreign policy and with the uncertainty in the transfer of sovereign powers to the supranational level. In the foreseeable future the uncertainty cannot be removed. The contradictions will remain. But Brussels intends to do away with the shortcomings in shaping and executing the foreign political and foreign economic course through improving the technology of conducting foreign affairs.

All the recipes considered by the EU for improving its international competitiveness and for reinforcing its international standing were spelled out in the Constitutional Treaty. After the idea of adopting it definitively failed, all of them have smoothly moved to the Reform Treaty. Basically, they are as follows.

The European Union obtains permanent presidency. Previously it has been changing each six months on a rotation basis. According to Brussels, the result was that the union would be tossed to and fro. Some states cope with the Presidency brilliantly, others fail. Some are rated very highly, while others are really turning the EU into a political dwarf. And this has nothing to do with the size or might of the presiding state. Thus, the recent French Presidency has been recognized as a role model. With Nicolas Sarcozy as President, Paris and Brussels succeeded in seizing leadership in settling the conflict in the Caucasus in August – September, 2008, in countering the first wave of world financial and economic crisis and in implementing numerous important and far-reaching initiatives. Italy is not much less influential in the world than France. Still, the Italian Presidency was assessed by most observers as unsuccessful and unproductive.

However, according to Brussels, this is only one side of the problem. The other is that all EU countries have different visions of the foreign policy and foreign economic policy to be pursued by the European Union. They have different ambitions and different priorities. That is why the EU is swaying to and fro. It turns to addressing some problems, then others. Each six months (now eighteen months due to introducing the practice of agreeing on the priorities by the three subsequent presidencies) certain problems are advanced and then set aside or shifted to the background of the EU activities in the subsequent period. Sometimes the EU does not know what to do with the initiatives supported before. It is suggested that the permanent presidency will provide for the continuity of foreign and foreign economic policy. It will rid the EU of hasty and ill-considered initiatives and will enable the EU to make foreign activities more respectable. Perhaps, it is the permanent president who will be entrusted with speaking out on behalf of the entire union. Practice will show if it will really happen or not because the permanent president will have a very powerful competitor.

The EU Minister for Foreign Affairs will involuntarily become such a competitor. In order not to evoke more passions, this position is named in the Reform treaty seemingly as before. Instead of a minister for foreign affairs there is a High Representative. But this does not change the substance. He will have enormous powers in his hands. Retaining the status of a highest EU official responsible for foreign policy, he becomes concurrently a deputy chairman of the European Commission assuming the functions of the current EU Commissar for Foreign Affairs. The authors of the Constitutional Treaty and the Reform Treaty believed that the concentration of powers in his hands will facilitate doing away with the problem of disunity in foreign policy and foreign economic activities. The High Representative will deal with both at a time. As a result, the EU international activities, as suggested, will get, at last, the required integrity. Political goals will be reached by means of economic levers. In its turn, the EU economic interests will be promoted through political methods.

Another advantage of this solution is that the High Representative, unlike what is in place now, will become a bridge between the two leading institutions of the European Union: the EU Council and the European Commission. They will work in a more coordinated and efficient way. Besides, in planning and executing foreign policy it will be instrumental to rely upon an enormous expert potential available in the European Commission and used only in the EU foreign economic activities. The only fact that all the EC delegations will be subordinated to the High Representative gives an idea of the qualitative leap which is theoretically possible in the organization of the EU international activities.

With the Lisbon Treaty coming into force, fundamentally new prospects will open up for reinforcing the EU foreign policy and foreign economic activities using a power component. Though it does not envisage creating the European Armed Forces, it will make it much easier to use it as a basis for modern military formations, well trained and equipped, ready to get engaged in any region of the world. Moreover, the member-states will be able to promote a structured cooperation within the EU framework. This means that those who can and wish to follow the avenue of military integration much further than now will be able to do it without hindrance.

The Lisbon Treaty envisages a lot of crucial changes in the very content. It is premature to make any assessments now and rather difficult to predict how they will affect the EU positioning internationally. At the same time, there are no doubts that in the foreign policy the EU will become a different entity, much more confident, tough and ambitious. Subsequent to the readjustment of relations between the EU and member-states and within the EU in this area, time will come for reconsidering all international activities of the integration community and for re-writing them in compliance with the ever growing potential of the European Union.

© M.L. Entin, professor, doctor of legal sciences,
Head of Jean Monnet chair and centre of excellence,
director of the European Studies Institute at MGIMO-University

* Оригинальный вариант статьи, подготовленной для Института международных организаций и международного сотрудничества Государственного университета – высшей школы экономики (Москва). Версия на русском языке первоначально опубликована в журнале «Вестник международных организаций: образование, наука, новая экономика» № 2 (24), 2009 (Тема номера: Роль ЕС в глобальном управлении), с. 29–47. Печатается с любезного согласия главного редактора М.В. Ларионовой.

№10(37), 2009