Global Europe Unpacked is a podcast by commonspace.eu that looks at global challenges facing the European continent, and explores the growing ambition for the EU to become a geopolitical power. From The Hague, Will Murray speaks to experts and decision makers about European foreign policy and international relations.
Giving EU citizens a voice on foreign policy – with Dr Dennis Sammut
24:09In series two of Global Europe Unpacked, commonspace.eu is collaborating with the City of The Hague to bring you several conversations looking at the future of Europe in the world. This series runs alongside the EU’s largest citizen consultation to date, the Conference on the Future of Europe. Since September 2021, the action-oriented think tank LINKS Europe and The Hague Municipality, with the support of The Hague Humanity Hub, have hosted a series of 10 citizen-dialogue events on various issues of international concern. Titled, ‘The Hague Conversations on the Future of Europe in the World’, the events ran in framework of the EU’s Conference on the Future of Europe, and were a chance for European citizens to share their thoughts and ideas on the what the EU is doing and what it needs to do better. In this episode, Will Murray is joined by Dr Dennis Sammut, the Director of LINKS Europe and Managing Editor of commonspace.eu, to unwrap the main findings of the events series. There are also excerpts from speeches by the European Commission’s Ivo Belet and the Mayor of The Hague, Jan van Zanen, from the closing event of The Hague Conversations in the Future of Europe in the World, which took place at The Hague Humanity Hub on 22 February 2022. You can watch the full video from the closing event here.The final report summarising the prevailing trends and ideas to come out the series of citizen dialogues can be found here, and the reports from each of the thematic events are available here. Amongst other things, this episode coversThe prevailing thoughts and ideas to emerge from The Hague Conversations on the Future of Europe in the WorldThe need for the EU to listen and communicate better with citizens, and to better involve citizens in international affairsWhy discussion on EU soft power has not been made superfluous by the invasion of UkraineHow the concept of a global Europe is perceived by European citizensThe primary importance of the EU’s neighbourhood in realising its global ambitionsWhy it is important to bridge the gap between the local and the internationalThe role of the City of The Hague and other municipalities as bridges between the EU and local citizensThe Conference on the Future of Europe’s online platform can be accessed here.
After Ukraine, can we still talk about soft power? - with Prof Jamie Shea
31:14Contribute your ideas to the Conference on the Future of Europe here!In series two of Global Europe Unpacked, commonspace.eu is collaborating with the City of The Hague to bring you several conversations looking at the future of Europe in the world. This series runs alongside the EU’s largest citizen consultation to date, the Conference on the Future of Europe. Our objective is to spark your interest in some of the important issues under discussion and encourage you to get involved.Since its establishment, the EU has relied on soft power – such as diplomacy – and economic instruments as its main foreign policy tools, leaving hard and military power to its member states and the main Western military alliance, NATO. The concept of EU hard power is hardly new but has by-and-large remained, up to now, abstract; however, in light of the EU’s growing place in the world and recent events in Ukraine exposing threats that were thought to have been consigned to the history books, what was once inconceivable is starting to gain ground.To address this topic, Will Murray speaks to Prof Dr Jamie Shea – Professor of Strategy and Security at the University of Exeter and former NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. This is the second time that Prof Shea joins the podcast, having spoken last series on the question, ‘Is EU ‘strategic autonomy’ compatible with NATO?’.Amongst other things, they discuss:Whether EU hard power necessary in light of what is happening in Ukraine and the EU’s geostrategic ambitions;What the EU’s Strategic Compass is and how it relates to the future of European defence and security;Whether the ongoing events in Ukraine have changed the thinking on the Strategic Compass and EU hard power more generally;The shape of the EU’s current relationship with NATO and how it is changing;Whether the situation in Ukraine has affected the EU-UK relationship, and if so, how; andWhether after the invasion of Ukraine, EU soft power is still relevant.The interview was recorded 11 March 2022.
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How should the EU respond to aspiring new members? – with HE Ambassador David Solomonia and Prof Antoaneta Dimitrova
35:33Contribute your ideas to the Conference on the Future of Europe here!In series two of Global Europe Unpacked, commonspace.eu is collaborating with the City of The Hague to bring you several conversations looking at the future of Europe in the world. This series runs alongside the EU’s largest citizen consultation to date, the Conference on the Future of Europe. Our objective is to spark your interest in some of the important issues under discussion and encourage you to get involved.The topic of European Union enlargement encapsulates more than any other topic the interaction between the processes going on inside the European Union with those outside of it. It is discussed often in response to questions that go to the heart of the European project: Should the EU be considering new members, or should it consolidate first? What makes a country European? The question, ‘where does Europe end?’, has been asked repeatedly over the last three decades but never properly answered. For a long time, expansion was the central foreign policy tool for the EU but now some in the bloc are very much against it.In this episode, Will Murray speaks to the Ambassador of Georgia to the Netherlands, His Excellency David Solomonia, about why his country is set on joining the European Union, why it should be allowed to, and why Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova – or the “Associated Trio” – signed an agreement with each other last year to co-operate on EU accession. We then hear an academic perspective of the different considerations associated with EU enlargement from Professor Antoaneta Dimitrova – a Professor of Comparative Governance at Leiden University.Amongst other things, this episode discusses:Why Georgia, as an aspiring member, wants to join the EU and why, from the Georgian perspective, it should be welcomed;The Associated Trio – Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine;How the EU has historically responded to those that wished to join the bloc;The general reasons given for and against EU enlargement;What lessons previous rounds of EU enlargement have shown us about best practices;Whether we should allow candidates to join the EU faster for geopolitical reasons; andWhat considerations the EU member states themselves should have when it comes to EU enlargement.It should be noted that these conversations were recorded before Russia’s invaded Ukraine on 24 February.
Supporting the rule of law in Ukraine – with Dr Valentyn Gvozdiy and Brian Mefford
35:25Join the conversation! You can access the Conference on the Future of Europe’s digital platform to share your ideas, find events, and to read ideas and event reports, here: www.futureu.europa.eu/-In series two of Global Europe Unpacked, commonspace.eu is collaborating with the City of The Hague to bring you several conversations looking at the future of Europe in the world. This series runs alongside the EU’s largest citizen consultation to date, the Conference on the Future of Europe. Our objective is to spark your interest in some of the important issues under discussion and encourage you to get involved.30 years ago, Ukraine declared independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and has since declared its ambition to join the Euro-Atlantic community as a full member of NATO and the EU. However, Ukraine’s Western ambitions have not made life easy for it, and the country has fallen victim to considerable interference by Moscow. Amongst other things, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and continues to aggressively support separatist movements in eastern Ukraine. A massive build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border at the end of 2021 now prompts serious concerns about a full-scale Russian invasion.Despite this, with the Rule of Law considered a key pillar of the European Union, this aspiring member has been making extensive efforts to support and strengthen it through reforms and measures. So, whilst increasing border tensions have captured the attention of the world’s media, what progress is Ukraine making on its ambition to strengthen the rule of law? In this episode, Will Murray speaks to Brian Mefford, a long-time observer of Ukraine, based in Kiev – about the state of the rule of law in Ukraine and the biggest challenges it faces; how it is affected by Russian interference; and what more could be done by the country’s Western partners to support and promote the rule of law there. Will then speaks to the vice-president of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, Dr Valentyn Gvozdiy, about what his institution does to support the rule of law in Ukraine; his perspective on the issues that Ukraine faces; and what he believes Ukraine can offer the EU when it comes to justice and rule of law issues.Amongst other things, this episode discusses:The state of the rule of law in Ukraine – its past, present, and future;The biggest challenges faced by the country on rule of law issues;how the rule of law in Ukraine is affected by Russian interference and conflicts in Donbas and Crimea;how the EU can better support Ukraine on rule of law issues;what the Ukrainian National Bar Association is and how it supports the rule of law in Ukraine; andhow the EU can learn from Ukraine.For more news analysis and commentary on the EU and its neighbourhood, visit commonspace.eu or follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU.
The Conference on the Future of Europe: let your voice be heard – with Didier Herbert and Saskia Bruines
23:38You can access the Conference on the Future of Europe’s digital platform to see share your ideas, find events, and to read ideas and event reports, here: futureu.europa.eu/-Global Europe Unpacked is back! In series two, commonspace.eu is collaborating with the City of The Hague to bring you several conversations looking at the future of Europe in the world. This series runs alongside the EU’s largest citizen consultation to date, the Conference on the Future of Europe. Our objective is to spark your interest in some of the important issues under discussion and encourage you to get involved.In 2019, in her opening statement at the European Parliament as a candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen announced her intention to have a Europe-wide broad consultation to allow “European citizens to play a leading and active part in building the future of our Union”. The result was the Conference on the Future of Europe.Launched in spring 2021 and running until spring 2022, the Conference is now well underway, with events and activities taking place across the bloc, in both the physical and digital worlds, allowing Europeans to share how they envisage the future of the Union. In this introductory episode, Will Murray speaks to the Head of Representation for the European Commission in the Netherlands, Didier Herbert, about how the Conference on the Future of Europe is taking shape, and how people can – and why they should – get involved. Will then shares a conversation with The Hague’s Deputy Mayor, Saskia Bruines, about the importance of bridging the gap between the local and the international, and how her city of peace and justice is contributing to the initiative. Amongst other things, this episode will cover:what is happening across European Union in the Conference on the Future of Europe;what is happening at the local level, in the City of The Hague, in the Conference;what makes this initiative so important;why you should get involved; andhow you can get involved.For more news analysis and commentary on the EU and its neighbourhood, visit commonspace.eu or follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU.
Is multilateralism in crisis? – with Stephanie Liechtenstein
28:36The new buzz word in international diplomacy is multilateralism, or to put it simply, countries working together towards a common goal. This is a concept nowhere embraced so firmly as in the Brussels corridors of power, where EU leaders speak of it with the fervour of a religious belief. But does multilateralism really work? Or does the old diplomatic maxim that “countries do not have friends, just interests” better reflect the reality of how international relations are conducted. In many ways the European Union sees itself as a model of multilateral co-operation: 27 member states pooling their resources and, to some extent, their sovereignty, to achieve common goals. It also sees itself as the standard bearer of multilateralism in the world – exerting influence through building common platforms based on its values. In recent weeks EU leaders from Ursula von der Leyen to Charles Michel in the European institutions, to Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron from among the member states, have hammered in the need for multilateralism to tackle the big challenges facing the world: from climate change to COVID-19, from refugee crises to resource shortages. Multilateralism not only requires countries to work together: it also requires them to develop rules of how to do so and then to respect those rules. For a while, under Donald Trump it appeared that the United States had ditched multilateralism, opting instead for an 'America first' approach. President Joe Biden has in his first days in office already gone a long way to reverse this. But is the transatlantic relationship enough for multilateralism to be the norm in the way international relations are conducted. How about Russia and China, who also pay lip service to multilateralism, but who quickly explain that they understand that to mean a multipolar world, where of course they see themselves as one of the poles? And how about everyone else? In this episode of Global Europe Unpacked, Will Murray speak to Stephanie Liechtenstein, the Web Editor-in-Chief of the Security and Human Rights Monitor, about, amongst other things: whether multilateralism is in crisis and what this means;what climate change and COVID-19 mean for multilateral diplomacy;whether multilateralism is being misconstrued by certain actors, such as China, and what can be done about it;what can be done when countries don’t follow the rules they have committed to;the biggest challenges for the 2021 Swedish Chairpersonship of the OSCE; andwhat the EU can do to strengthen multilateral diplomacy.For more news analysis and commentary on the EU and its neighbourhood, visit commonspace.eu or follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU.
Is EU ‘strategic autonomy’ compatible with NATO? – with Dr Jamie Shea
30:22For more than seven decades the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has been the most potent security organisation on the European continent, an embodiment of the transatlantic relationship, and a bulwark against any threat to states that form part of it. NATO is based on the principle that an attack against one or several of its members is considered as an attack against all. This is the principle of collective defence, which is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty signed in 1949. Today, NATO has 30 member states, all on the European continent except Canada and the United States. After the end of the cold war in 1991 some doubted if NATO was needed any more, yet subsequent developments have shown that the organisation’s tasks, whilst evolving, remain absolutely pertinent to the present and future realities. Most EU member states are also NATO members, but not all. But calls for closer EU-NATO relations have increased, with ideas on burden sharing where appropriate. Some have even called for the EU to take over all of NATO’s responsibilities, but these calls are widely dismissed. Defining an optimal way for EU-NATO co-operation to develop is one of the many challenges facing the two institutions Given the changing nature of conflict, NATO has had to change too. For the future, hybrid warfare, cyberattacks, and violent non-state actors are as much likely to be the sort of threats NATO has to deal with as were the classic tank battles of the past. In this episode of Global Europe Unpacked, Will Murray speaks to Dr Jamie Shea – a professor in Strategy and Security at the University of Exeter and NATO’s former Deputy Sec Gen for Emerging Security Challenges, well known as the organisation’s spokesperson during the Kosovo war – about:why NATO is still relevant in 2021;how NATO is dealing with emerging threats;how NATO should handle a modern Russia;whether Georgia and Ukraine should be allowed to join NATO;what President Joe Biden means for EU-NATO relations; andwhether the EU’s global ambitions are compatible with NATO.For more news analysis and commentary on the EU and its neighbourhood, visit commonspace.eu or follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU.
How should the EU manage relations with its eastern neighbours? – with Viola von Cramon MEP
25:22In 2009, acknowledging the differences between the states in its eastern and southern neighbourhoods, the European Union sought to upgrade its neighbourhood policy to the east by ‘accelerating political association and deepening economic integration’ with six post-Soviet partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The ‘Eastern Partnership’ initiative was intended to provide an institutionalised forum for discussion on visa agreements, free-trade deals, and strategic partnership arrangements. Whilst EU expansion was and remains a controversial topic, this was a way to integrate and prepare the partnership countries for the potential of full membership without committing to it. The initiative looks to strengthen and develop five key areas – governance, economy, connectivity, societal bonds, and the involvement of broader society. The concept is that the demonstrated commitment by each partner to tangible goals would be reflected by the level of integration and co-operation offered to it by the EU. In the last 12 years, three of the six countries – Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia – have signed Association Agreements with the EU and declared their desire to seek full membership. On the other hand, EU relations with Belarus are currently strained, following a crackdown on political dissent. So how can the EU best handle its relationship with six partners that show varied levels of commitment to its stated values, without alienating or frustrating any single one? In this episode of Global Europe Unpacked, Will Murray speaks to Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, a German Member of the European Parliament for the Greens, about: whether 12-years on, the EaP has been a success;how the EU can handle Russia, a long-time critic of the EaP;how the EU should interact with Eastern partners like Belarus, whose government acts against the EU’s stated values;her perspectives on the current situations in Ukraine and Georgia;whether the EaP is fit for purpose in its current form considering the imbalance in commitment shown by different members; andwhat she believes the EU’s priorities for the EaP should be going forwards.For more news analysis and commentary on the EU and its neighbourhood, visit commonspace.eu or follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU.
How does Brexit affect Europe's global ambitions? – with Dr Fabian Zuleeg
24:21On the 31st of December 2020, after years of negotiations, the United Kingdom formally left the European Union. As the protagonist of this story, there has been much speculation over its fate, but what about the bloc that it has left? As the EU pursues more global ambitions, what effects will the departure of one of its largest economies, and most diplomatically experienced members, have on its ability to do so? Some in Europe hold a rather optimistic view – that whilst the bloc will experience some short-term issues, it will benefit overall from the departure of a member that was never truly committed to a cohesive Europe. On the other hand, some believe that other members will simply step into the UK’s shoes, to temper the ambitions of an “ever-closer” union, and the role that France and Germany are likely to play in it. Apart from the political considerations, there are also some geographical truths. The UK remains just off the European coastline, with part of its territory on an island with a remaining EU member. Brexit may have muddied the relationship, but the UK and EU share fundamental values and can benefit from co-operation on many issues. But what shape is this likely to take? As the UK appears more divided than it has for centuries, questions have also arisen regarding the prospect of a Scottish break from the British Union, and its ambition to re-join the European one. Would EU member states traditionally opposed to separatism of any kind now welcome it in with open arms? And what are the prospects for a future United Kingdom that wishes to change its mind and do the same? In this episode of Global Europe Unpacked, Will Murray speaks to Dr Fabian Zuleeg, the Chief Executive and Chief Economist of the European Policy Centre in Brussels, about: what the UK’s departure means for the EU and its global ambitions;the recent row over the diplomatic status of the EU’s ambassador to the UK and what it reveals about the current state of the EU-UK relationship;the likelihood of a hypothetical independent Scotland joining the EU;whether we are likely to see the UK itself rejoining any time soon; andhow the UK and EU must approach their relationship going forwards.For more news analysis and commentary on the EU and its neighbourhood, visit commonspace.eu or follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU.
What does President Biden mean for the EU-US relationship? – with Dr Dan S. Hamilton
28:52After four years of President Donald Trump, the United States of America appears considerably removed from Europe. In Brussels and in many European capitals, Trump’s legacy is characterised by an American rejection of longstanding multilateral commitments and institutions, and an “America first” policy, which in practice often meant frequent unfriendly moves against long-standing European allies. Trump’s presidency has been described as a wakeup call – a cautionary example that Europe cannot be reliant on the US for its security and must become a geostrategic entity in its own right, independently responsible for the safety of its member states and the stability of its neighbourhood. But today, with the inauguration of President Joe Biden, there is sense of excitement in Europe at the prospect of a new era of transatlantic relations. During the presidential election campaign, Biden often emphasised the importance of the United States working closely with European allies. So, with President Biden safely installed in the White House, are we to expect a new golden era for the transatlantic relationship?In this episode of Global Europe Unpacked, Will Murray speaks to Dr Dan S. Hamilton, the Director of the Global Europe Program at the Wilson Center (Washington DC) and former US State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, about:what a Biden presidency means for the EU-US relationship;what the new administration’s foreign policy priorities look like, and how will these coincide with Europe’s own priorities and concerns;how the Biden administration will perceive this desire of the EU to become a more geostrategically independent actor; andissues in the transatlantic relationship of the Trump era that we are likely to see carried over into the new administration.For more news analysis and commentary on the EU and its neighbourhood, visit commonspace.eu or follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU.