In search of a place for the European Union in the world | Opinion

First of all, it is advisable not to delude yourself. This is an increasingly uncomfortable world for the European Union. For a group of countries that believes in an international order based on law and institutions and sees what little there was shaken and trampled by the global law of force. For a trading powerhouse suffering from the disruption of international supply chains. For a normative power that attends to a segmentation of the world. For societies largely averse to the military dimension, and in demographic decline, which observe a global scenario that is increasingly prone to confrontation. For a very energy-dependent territory, and with suppliers at the political antipodes. This is what it is. And that is where you have to stand.

None of this necessarily leads us to a decadent era, but all of it forces us to make hard decisions, and quickly. In short, it’s about deciding where exactly on the world board to position yourself. There is no doubt that it will have to be close to other democracies, with which, despite all the mistakes and disappointments, we share inalienable values. But to what extent? How far to align with the United States? From where to build your own, different voice?

The G-7 and NATO summits held in the past few days have exhibited a high degree of cohesion. But it is clear that, behind the necessary unitary message in the face of brutal Russian aggression, there are different views. Not all democracies, for example, are on the same wavelength with regard to what position to take against China. At one extreme, the harshness of the US, for which China is the great strategic competitor; in the other, European countries —such as Germany— more prone to interaction.

The EU has historically aspired to a multilateral order, with a broad pluralism of subjects represented at the table of international institutions that deal with issues through dialogue and law. But that will not be possible. Rather, it is a choice between a bipolar one —great democracies versus great autocracies—; or another multipolar —with the US on one side; the EU, close, but in a place of its own; China on the other; Russia, close to Beijing, but not in symbiosis. The more cohesive the club of democracies, the more cohesive the autocracies are likely to be. And vice versa.

What is more in line with our interests? And to our values? Every answer is legitimate, but some premises have little possible debate. One: Refusing to supply Ukraine with weapons to defend itself is a lot like abandoning a woman assaulted by a thug who has no intention of negotiating and stopping to her fate. Two: belonging to NATO is life insurance, and some have substantially not paid the dues and have sucked the pot. That there are those who think that, due to their territorial situation, they do not need insurance is as short-sighted as forgetting that we belong to a community of values ​​for which a blow to one place is a blow to all and, furthermore, that from certain powders come great sludge If there were no NATO, does anyone dare to rule out an attack by Putin on the Baltics? Would the EU have defended the Balts? Three: trusting the good intentions of countries like Russia or China is naive.

You have to decide where to stand. Probably the most logical place is in the democratic camp unequivocally, preparing for the worst, demonstrating unity between democracies to the outside, and moderating from within that camp the most extreme reactive impulses.

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