The EU: Global Engagement and Strategic Policy

European Union Foreign and Security Policy Papers

The EU’ Global Engagement and Strategic Policy (2014)

written in collaboration with Project for Democratic Union. Authors:

Mario Zorro, Vsevolod Samokhvalov, Teodor Kalpakchiev

Abstract. 2

Current State of Affairs (2014). 3

The CFSP, the CSDP and Strategic Policy. 4

The Common Foreign and Security Policy. 4

The Common Security and Defence Policy. 5

The European Security Strategy and the European Internal Security Strategy. 6

NATO and the EU.. 7

A history of complicated relations. 7

Building bridges: Identity driven self-declarationism.. 8

How to (try) to work together?. 10

Current challenges, possible measures. 11

Eastern Europe after the Enlargement. 13

Putting foot on the ground in Eastern Europe. 16

Leaving Moscow an exit space through engaging with BRICS. 17

Support to the statehood in Europe’s neighbourhood. 17

Strengthening Eastern Europe’s statehood. 18

Promoting democracy and post-conflict reconciliation. 19

Energy security and independence. 21

Dealing with Frozen Conflicts. 22

Nuclear non-proliferation and the Iranian question. 23

Energy. 25

EU in Central Asia. 26

EU Engagement with the region. 27

Rebuffing Security. 30

Recommendations. 31

NATO.. 33

The EU and Africa. 34

Africa. 36

The EU and Africa: looking to the future. 38

Mali and Nigeria. 40

The Sequence of Events in Egypt. 41

Their Economic Residuum.. 42

Palestinian Territories. 43

The Arab Spring. 45

ISIS. 46

Yemen – immunity or impunity?. 48

Libya’s disintegrating security sector. 48

The EU and the US. 49

Conclusions and Recommendations. 50

The EU and Asia. 52

Pivot to Asia. 53

China and the EU.. 55

China and Taiwan. 57

Japan, South Korea and North Korea. 59

Sanctions. 61

Bibliography. 63


The 21st century is posing challenges to the European Union (EU) besides the current financial situation. The balance of power at the global level is changing in a very stark way since the last 30 years. Old and new powers are (re-) emerging, (e.g. Russia and China) each posing in turn a challenge to the interests of the EU. The events in Ukraine are just an example of those challenges.

Additionally, other influential non-state actors and regions are affecting the economic and security interests of the EU. The potential risks of, for example, a strengthened presence of terrorist groups like Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) or Al Qaeda in a region where the EU obtains most of its energy from, is something be considered. As a matter of fact, such risk is currently forcing the EU to redesign its resources strategy and at some point the crisis in Ukraine is reflecting the urgency of the EU to access new sources and transit areas.

Another issue is the spread of piracy in waters where energetic resources are being transported from the Middle East to the European harbours and consumers. Additional issues are presence of extremist groups and threats of new conflicts near the EU. Of course, such problems cannot be solved by the EU alone but should be tackled by international alliances and in closer cooperation with security organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other partners (like the United States) that are being affected by such situations.

It would be unfair, however, to state that the EU has been doing little to nothing in order to accomplish its own objectives, despite the problems that still remain and need to be tackled.

The aim of this document is to provide an assessment on the actions being taken by the EU so far in regions with strategic importance and with security issues. It aims to achieve this by analysing the defined objectives, policies, instruments and actions implemented in each area, identifying potential gaps will in order to provide a set of recommendations for future actions and priorities[1].

The first part of this paper will be dedicated to review EU legal framework concerning existing and future foreign policy actions. The second part will be dedicated to reviewing the areas and regions where such actions are being implemented or will be implemented. The first of the areas and regions to be reviewed are the relations between the EU and NATO. The Second is the Eastern Europe and Russia. The third is the Arctic. The fourth is the Middle East and Africa. And the fifth is the South East and Central Asia.

To conclude this paper, a set of recommendations will be provided along with a proposal for a number of actions and strategies that could be taken by the EU to improve its security position and assert its interests. 

Current State of Affairs (2015)

Regardless of expectations for a “cessation of zero-sum geopolitical rivalries”[2] the erosion of both US and EU balance of power in the multi-polar antagonism in the region has been triggered by a authoritative local leadership that can be denounced as amplifying extremities and political secularization, re-emergence of nationally constructed foreign policy aims within the EU and the upturn of Russian and Chinese presence that is blundering the goals of the former.

The quintessential fragility of the institutional governance has led to a shift towards non-state actors, seeking to placate the numerous antinomies in the region, whilst at the same time the non-compliancy of strong actors such as Turkey and Iran and the new assertiveness and financial patronage of Saudi and Qatar are leading to the transfiguration of radical groups into stakeholders, as well as the subsequent frangible competitiveness between Saudi and Iran over Syria and the governmental loss of control over territories in Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. EU’s involvement in the Syrian conflict has often been perceived as a policy failure, as the stakes on the table with Iran have yet to prove consequential. Russia is increasingly liaising with Saudi, Hezbollah and is playing a decisive role in the economic uphold of Iran, pressing the regime change at all possible levels.

These factors, combined with the  inwardness of the European leadership have rendered its existing framework potentially inoperable and have been symbolically superseded with the appointment of a headline foreign policy executive from one of the structural operators in the region such as Italy and France.

The CFSP, the CSDP and Strategic Policy

The EU has two main tools to address issues on Foreign Policy and Security Policy, i.e. the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Other tools are the European Security Strategy and the European Internal Security Strategy.

The Common Foreign and Security Policy

The CFSP was introduced and defined by the Treaty on European Union (TEU), according to which the Member States should define and execute a common foreign and security policy based on the following principles: the safeguarding of the interests, values and independence of the EU, the strengthening of security, the preservation of peace and the strengthening international security, the promotion of international cooperation and the developing and consolidation of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms (Treaty of Amsterdam, 1992: Art. J.1).

Additional principles for the EU foreign policy are: the fostering of development in developing countries aiming at eradicate poverty, the encouragement of all countries to integrate into the world economy and push for free trade, to contribute to sustainable development while protecting the environment, assistance on natural or man – made disasters and the promotion of multilateral cooperation and good governance (Official Journal of the European Union 2010, Art. 21.2).

On the operational aspect, the council is regarded as the main authority for consultation, cooperation and decision-making by the Member States. It is also the instance for a final decision on implementing a joint action (The Treaty of Amsterdam 1992: Art. J.2, Art. J.3). The European Union Presidency, in turn, represents the EU before international organizations and it is responsible for the implementation of common measures (Art. J. 5).

In 2007, the Treaty of Lisbon added more elements regarding the decision-making process and introduced the CSDP and a High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy which has, in turn, proposing faculties (The Treaty of Lisbon 2007, Art. 9 E and Art. 10 B).

The CFSP has four main categories of instruments, denominated “decisions”: The first, Strategic interests and objectives, shape every framework and give way to decisions; the second, Common Positions, define the approach taken by the Member States on any topic; the third, Joint Actions, covers the execution or extension of any given military/civilian operation under the CSDP, as well as providing support to any international organization and its activities with similar principles; and the fourth, implementation of arrangements for common position and actions, is self-explanatory (Mix, 2013, pp. 6 – 8).

Regarding the decision- making process, the European Council is tasked with identifying the strategic interests and objectives while the High Representative can submit proposals (Official Journal of the European Union 2010, Art. 22). General coordination between Member States is esteemed and even any member state can draft and send a proposal and/or initiative as well as consulting each other and ensuring that under their convergence on actions the EU can asserts its interests (Official Journal of the European Union 2010, Art. 30, Art. 32, Art. 34). Last but not least, the Council decides the budget for any operation to be executed prior having a consultation with the European Parliament (Official Journal of the European Union 2010, Art. 41).

The Common Security and Defence Policy

The CSDP was introduced by the Saint Malo Declaration of 1998, which stated the need of the EU to play a more important role in the international arena. To do so, the EU was bounded to create the capacity for autonomous action, backed by a credible military force. Operational readiness and political decision were needed to use this force as an answer to any international crisis, while maintaining the already existing collective defence instances. This force would be operating within the existing frameworks – including NATO – and solidarity among the EU Member States was to be strengthened.

Additionally, the declaration stated that should there be any area or situation that NATO cannot cover or is disengaged, the EU must be given the necessary capacities and structure for performing its own actions[3]. The strengthening of the armed forces supported by the European industry and technology was deemed as necessary to allow fast reaction to new risks (Howorth, 2007, pp. 33-35).

The Treaty of Lisbon and the TEU shaped the statements given by the Declaration of 1998 by stating that the CSDP is an integral part of the CFSP with the aim of providing the EU with operational capacities from military and civilian assets[4]. With those assets being contributed by Member States, they were to be utilized for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening of international security operations. A common defence policy is to be framed upon decision by the Council and every Member has to improve their defence capacities, as well as to assist any other Member State whose territory is under aggression (TEU 2010, Art. 42)[5].

Additionally, the mentioned assets can be used for operations that would be executed by the EU[6]. The mechanism of Task Groups (or battle groups) (Art. 44) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) were introduced.

EDA is intended to provide support to the Member States and the Council in the improvement of European Defence capacities oriented at crisis management, as well as to sustain the ESDP. In detail its functions comprise: First, the development of defence capabilities; second, the promotion of Defence Research and Technology (R&T); third, the promotion of armaments co-operation; and fourth, the creation of a competitive European defence market and strengthening the European defence, technological, and industrial base[7].

An interesting aspect noteworthy to mention is that Member States can join upon own decision the stipulated cooperation structure and have to notify both the Council and High Representative. The same procedure applies when withdrawal is decided. Also, participation can be suspended if the participant cannot meet the requirements to participate in the cooperation (TEU 2010, Art. 46). Due to the fact that participation is not compulsory like NATO, it has the potential to generate a dangerous vacuum since every Member could remain inactive or take unilateral steps. This could jeopardize the integrity of the EU and its interests[8].

The European Security Strategy and the European Internal Security Strategy

Although it they are not legal and institutional frameworks in a strict sense, the European security strategies (European Security Strategy, ESS; and Internal Security Strategy, ISS (draft) – defines as challenges the blurred line between internal and external security issues given the openness of borders, the negative reaction on some areas to globalization and the role played by non – state actors as well as the increased interdependence of Europe due to that same globalization[9]. Conflicts, poverty, famine, diseases, competence for resources and energy dependence (the Persian Gulf, Russia and North Africa) are also included on the list.

These strategies also labels as threats: terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the outbreak and spark of regional conflict, failed states that deepen instability, and organized crime (European Security Strategy [ESS] 2003, pp. 2 – 5). Cyber Crime, cross-border crime, violence in any form, natural and man-made disasters, and road traffic accidents are also mentioned (ISS (Draft) 2010, pp. 5 – 6).

In addition, the Strategies contemplate the neighbourhoods as an important area where security objectives and actions should be set and implemented, respectively, with multilateralism (and cooperation with institutions) as an approach and an objective by itself (ESS 2003, pp. 7 – 10). Enhanced proactivity, capacity, coherence, and work with partners are stipulated as needed tools to meet the security objectives (ESS 2003, pp. 11 – 14). In turn, the ISS contemplates as tools: threat assessment; response with planning, programming and handling the consequences; effectiveness of agencies and bodies; mutual recognition to enhance cooperation; and evaluation mechanism for further improvements (ISS 2010, pp. 6 – 7).

As strategic guidelines for actions, the ISS stipulates horizontal and vertical approaches as the basis for any future action, along with transparency, prevention and anticipation with an accent on intelligence. Development of a model for information exchange, operational and judiciary cooperation, integrated border management, innovation and training, cooperation with third countries, and flexibility and adaptability to cope with future challenges are also stipulated (ISS 2010, pp. 10 – 17).

The following section will give an insight to those areas and issues with the most urgent or relevant state and to observe how the frameworks are being applied to meet both the general objectives and the particular objectives in foreign policy and security and defence of each area.

NATO and the EU

The United States of America (USA) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are both important partners for the security of the EU. They contribute and define the priorities, mechanisms, and actions. During the Cold War both the EU and NATO emerged with shared goals and as an effort to provide stability in Europe. NATO was intended to provide collective defence through mutual security between the US and Europe against the Soviet Union. The EU, in turn, was intended to provide political stability by securing democracy and free markets (Archick & Gallis, 2008, p.1). Therefore, NATO and the EU are of great importance for each other, as well as for the stability of Europe, even today. 

A history of complicated relations

Despite the fact that both organization emerged and developed by the same time, tensions and problems took place between NATO and the EU (European Economic Community or EEC, and the Western European Union or WEU back then).

France – one of the EEC/EU founders – withdrew from the military command structure in 1966, due to differences regarding the USA commitment in defending Europe and the self-defence of the latter, especially on the nuclear chapter[10]. Another source of tension were the possibility of Europe to influence the USA nuclear policies. The Suez Crisis in 1956, the Vietnam and the Yom Kippur War evidenced the different positions and the strong criticism that many EEC – NATO countries had towards US foreign policies during those times were among the clashes between the US and the EEC (Archer, 1994, pp. 212 – 226)[11].

Moreover, the 1982 Urengoy Pipeline Crisis and the negative to provide some overfly facilities to USA air assets during the Libyan crisis by some European nations were another escalation of tensions existing between the USA and the European NATO and EEC Members (Archer, 1994, p. 215; p. 226)[12].

Tensions continued after the Cold War and the post 9/11 period, where new challenges and issues arose. The situation in Yugoslavia meant a hard test for NATO and for the EU, evidencing the differences in strategic capacities between the US and its European allies (NATO and ECC/EU). Definition of goals between the same allies was also a problem along with the dilemmas of sharing capacities, not to mention the political constrains within the Alliance[13].

Other tensions included the perspective on conventional warfare and low intensity conflicts, along with the re-adaptation of NATO itself to cope with the new threats. The EU’s desire to play an important role in stability operations has something to do with these disputes (Berdal & Ucko, 2009). Threat assessment, defence institutions and military capabilities are also on the list, and are created by the divergent evolution and responsibilities taken by both organizations (Archick & Gallis, 2008, p.1).

Moreover, defining the threat to address in the post-Cold War and 9/11 era was difficult[14]. For the Eastern European countries it is Russia, for other countries neighbouring problems or issues beyond the NATO Article 6. Thus new tensions and disagreements emerged (Berdal & Ucko, 2009). These problems might concern only NATO but in reality affects the capacity of the EU to execute operations and react to any crisis, either alone or under NATO co – operation. This also affects the EU’s definition of issues to tackle and its capacity to address them under the EU – NATO co-operation.

Building bridges: Identity driven self-declarationism

Despite those crises and disagreements existing between the EU and NATO, both organizations have worked to deepen their relations and reach common frameworks and agreements.

The European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI), made by the European countries within NATO in 1996, was the first concrete step to bring both organizations closer.

Two factors gave way to the creation of the ESDI: first, the realization by some European nations about their lack of capacity of some EU/NATO members to act beyond the (NATO) Article 5 area following the First Gulf War. Second, the initial reluctance of the USA under Clinton Administration to involve itself in the conflicts that took place after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The threats posed by those conflicts also needed to be addressed by the European nations. Following this, EU countries with NATO membership deemed necessary to enhance political consultation, unity and military capabilities among themselves. (Archik & Gallis, 2008, p. 1)[15].

The answer was the ESDI, which came to life in 1996. One of the aims of the ESDI was to create a space for consultation between the EU-NATO countries and NATO on responding to threats. Another of ESDI’s aim was to provide a room for the EU members (with NATO membership) to implement actions during any crisis where the Alliance was not committed or was not able to act. Then between 1998 and 1999 the EU took the ESDI as the base for its own ESDP, seeking an independence from NATO (Archik & Gallis, 2008, p.2)[16].

Nevertheless, NATO and the EU worked together in the creation of further mechanisms to enhance coordination and collaboration between each other. After the Washington NATO Summit of 1999, the Euro-Atlantic community was intended to be broadened while the Alliance was overhauled to be able to cope with the new strategic dilemmas. Efforts made by EU to strengthen their own defence were supported and welcomed as a mean to enable their own capabilities for joint actions (NATO, 23 April 1999).

After the declarations of commitment to build the ESDI and the support to the EU’S own initiatives (initiatives that were welcomed by NATO), the EU was able to execute operations where the Alliance was not committed. Following this, mutual consultation, co-operation, and transparency were defined as priorities and the EU was granted access to NATO planning capacities and common assets so it could execute its own operations (NATO, 24 April 1999).

The next steps in bringing both Organizations together were taken with the Berlin Plus agreements and the EU-NATO Joint Declaration of December 2002, and both are the current frameworks for the relations between both organizations. In those agreements, close modalities to operate with non-EU NATO members were established and consultation, cooperation, and transparency were established as pillars. Provisions defined in 1999 were simply confirmed by the Berlin Plus agreement[17].

Additionally and in order to enhance co-ordinated planning, the establishment of two small liaison cells of NATO at the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) and of the EU at NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) were proposed. As a part of this, it was proposed that EUMS early warning, situation assessment and strategic capacities should be enhanced thorugh the establishment of a small cell with civilian/military elements[18]. The cell actions would be performed under the borrowed NATO planning and command structures[19].

It is important to remark that both declarations establish as a basis for the relation between the EU and NATO the following principles: first, Partnership or the assuring that operations are mutually reinforcing; second, the effective (and mutual) consultation, dialogue, co – operation and transparency between both organizations; third, equality regarding the autonomy held by both organizations; fourth, respect for the interests of the members of each; fifth, respect for the principles of the Charter of the United Nations; and sixth, coherent, transparent and mutually reinforcing development of the commonly required military capability (Solana, 2002).

How to (try) to work together?

Afterwards and under these frameworks, the EU executed two operations independently. The first one was the Operation Concordia in Macedonia, where the EU made use of the NATO assets and capacities with a common Operation Commander. The second was Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the EU had more autonomy yet kept NATO informed of the operation objectives (Archick & Gallis, 2008, p.20)[20].

However, the aforementioned operations are just only an example of the outcomes following the agreements. As a matter of fact NATO and the EU are cooperating in 4 important areas since then. It is worthwhile to mention that those geographical areas are also the core issues regarding EU – NATO relations.

The first area in question is the Western Balkans, where the aforementioned Operation Concordia took place by 2003 and where the EU replaced NATO and its functions. Operation Althea followed in Bosnia in 2004, again using NATO assets and capabilities and having the NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe as commander of the operation. The operation headquarters were located at SHAPE. Both organizations are also currently present and cooperating is Kosovo, where the EU is implementing also two operations with primarily civilian components: the first being the reinforcement of the United Nations Mission and the second is the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX), which works in closer cooperation with NATO’s KFOR (NATO, 2014).

The second area is Afghanistan, where both organizations have as common goal the stabilization and provision of peace, along with reconstruction and establishment of democracy and rule of law in the country. The EU launched an ESDP Rule of Law mission (EUPOL) to reinforce the tasks made by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The EU also runs a programme for justice reform and providing financial contributions for civilian project in NATO’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) that are under responsibility of any EU country (NATO, 2014).

The third area is the little publicized support, given by both organizations, to the African Union’s mission in Darfur, mainly through airlifts (NATO, 2014).

The Fourth area, which has steadily gained relevance for both organizations since 2008, is the fight against piracy, with both organizations deploying naval assets under operations “Ocean Shield” and EUNAVFOR “Atalanta” at the Horn of Africa (NATO, 2014).

However, cooperation between the EU and NATO does not consist only of operational aspects. Political consultation has been implemented in Libya, the Western Balkans and the Middle East on topics related to the EU security on the nearby. The crisis in Ukraine have deepened the mutual consultation on decisions regarding Russia[21]. And in the field of capacities, both Organizations created the NATO-EU Capability Group in order to fulfil the goals on joint capability development, and elements of the EDA contributes to its work (NATO, 2014)[22].

Current challenges, possible measures

Currently the biggest challenge faced by both organizations is the Russian invasion of Ukraine after the Euromaidan protests and the fall of the former pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yakunovych. NATO and the EU were simply taken by surprise and are still unable to provide a coherent, unified and strong answer to the Russian actions. Even sanctions have proved to be useless, and a certain inaction is worrisome, despite the fact that NATO and the EU established defence and security cooperation agreements with Ukraine in 2004 and 1994, respectively (McDonagh, 2014). The Ukrainian crisis has not only harmed the interests of the EU but is evidencing the problems that both organizations face individually and also the existing problems when providing answers, since there is plenty of room for the Member States of both NATO and mostly the EU to unilaterally take actions.

Worse still, it is bringing back the old dilemma of defining who and what is a threat. At this rate, the NATO and EU aims of acting in other regions of the world are shattered and will have to wait until the Ukraine situation is solved. Russia, as it seems, is once again becoming the main threat to Europe. Not only in security terms – Russia have increased its military activities over the Arctic, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe – but also in energetic terms. Energy supplies are becoming increasingly jeopardized and threats of shortages are lurking[23]. Europe, then, is being threatened by a double–edged knife at its throat.

NATO and the EU must take firm actions sooner rather than later and show to Russia that the EU is able to assert its own interests and guarantee the integrity of its partners and potential new members, as well as its capacity of guaranteeing its own security and integrity through a strong and credible deterrence. NATO, in turn, must show that it is still capable of providing Europe with credible and strong support for the security of Europe in the face of the current and potential aggressive Russian actions. Actions that are clearly against both EU and NATO members, especially those in Scandinavia, the Eastern Europe and the Baltics. And also against those countries whose integrity are of great interest for the EU and NATO.

Those actions could include the provision of military aid to the Ukrainian Armed Forces as well as to contemplate a possible NATO and EU membership. The (military) presence of NATO and the EU could be also increased with construction of bases, facilities and deployment of troops and vessels in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Greece, Turkey, Poland and Romania[24]. NATO could promote closer approaches with Sweden and Finland and encourage them to join the Alliance[25].

Additionally, NATO and the EU could support an increased rearmament of the Polish Armed Forces in the three military dimensions (air, land, and sea). A similar measure could be implemented in Sweden and Finland should both nations are granted a NATO membership. If so, the Nordic Defence Cooperation – Sweden and Finland are part of it – should be incorporated within the operational and command structures of NATO and the EU.  Sweden and Finland could also protect Scandinavia, the High North and contribute to the defence of the Baltics, complementing the defence of Poland and its responsibilities of safeguarding the eastern borders of the EU[26].

NATO (and the USA) could also consider the re-deployment of nuclear weapons along with air and land assets and battalions in Poland, Germany, Northern Europe (read Scandinavia) and Poland, while the EU strengthens the Battlegroups in the Northern and Eastern Europe[27]. On the same way, the naval presence of NATO and EU naval assets should be increased in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, while enhancing a closer collaboration with the Turkish Navy (and Armed Forces), the Baltics and the Arctic[28]. At the same time, access the Kaliningrad Oblyast could be restricted or denied in the most extreme of the circumstances.

Finally, the EU and NATO should also enhance their Special Forces and Intelligence units in strong co-operation with the EU/NATO countries that have borders with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. These forces would counter any Russian action aimed at creating unrest under the alibi of “protecting Russian communities” or simply to deny Russia the possibility of use the same schemes in any neighbouring country[29].

It is important to remark that NATO, and the EU, not only need to review their strategies, as Stacey & Herbst (2014) propose, but also that they need to consider a new implementation of Cold War strategic guidelines with the respective update.

All of the proposed measures, however, require a strong political will from both the EU and NATO, not to mention the decision from both to implement any common and co-ordinated actions. The proposed measures also face the issue of financial viability. Nevertheless, the EU and NATO must “show the teeth” to Russia and prove that they also ready to bite, if necessary. Through the proposed measures – or similar – the EU and NATO would perform a credible deterrence that would keep Putin out of Europe rather than a mere approach to the United Nations.

It will be interesting to pay a closer attention to the upcoming Wales NATO summit in September, and see what are going to be the new actions NATO will take, along with the EU, in order to assert their interests and for future actions in Ukraine and other parts of the world. It will be also interesting to see how finally the question of what is the main threat for both organizations is solved and how the Russian invasion of Ukraine might serve as a factor to bring the EU and NATO closer than before.

But at the moment, actions taken by NATO and the EU to meet their objectives in Eastern Europe are going to be reviewed on the next sections, as well as more detailed and focused measures that the EU and NATO could implement.

Eastern Europe after the Enlargement

The 2004 Enlargement, when ten countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe joined the EU, sent a strong signal about Europe’s commitment to promote prosperity and security in its periphery and assist the countries of the region in their transition to functioning democratic state and market economy. The EU commitment to assist these countries of with successful nation- and state-building was facilitated by the already existent deep trade relations and economic complementarity between these countries and Europe. These dynamics helped to compensate the hardship of transition, structural reforms and adapting to the environment in EU. Despite some side-effects of the 2004 Enlargement, the instrument has been successful as it provided the EU with the sense of mission and experience of action.  Although the EU accession of Central European and Baltic States caused Russia’s concerns, both actors succeeded to prevent any geopolitical competition over the region. The EU tried to address Russia’s preoccupation by engaging into detailed negotiations over the issues of free trade regimes between Russia and, for example Poland and Slovakia as well as the transit to Kaliningrad. In addition, Moscow tolerated EU entry in what it considered its sphere of influence because it believed that this would be part of the EU growing foreign policy ambitions. Moscow had strong hopes that the emerging EU CFSP would become a new counter-balance to the US influence in Europe.

  1. European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), Eastern Europe and Russia

The situation started changing with the EU’s growing interest in Russia’s Near Abroad – Western New Independent States and the South Caucasus. Western New Independent States – Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus – as well as the countries of the South Caucasus – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – were linked to Russia with a number of social and economic ties. In addition, the Black Sea region played an important symbolic role in Russia’s great power identity. The active entry of the EU in this area was perceived in Moscow as an attempt to squeeze Russia out of this important region. The situation was aggravated by the fact that by 2003 Moscow became increasingly disappointed in the lack of progress in the Common Foreign and Security Policy and European Security and Defence Policy (CFSP/ESDP). Initial enthusiasm was motivated by a hope that the CFSP/ESDP could constitute an alternative pole in the global security architecture to the United States and NATO[30]. In 2002-2003 when these expectations did not come true, Moscow’s response to the EU involvement in the area grew increasingly competitive.

The European Neighbourhood Policy adopted in 2003 was the first regional approach designed for Eastern Europe and Caucasus. In Eastern Europe, the EU repeatedly stressed that the ENP was not about new dividing lines[31] and even offered Moscow participation in the approach. Russia’s response to the ENP was largely sceptical. Moscow rejected the offer to participate in the ENP because it was not invited to participate in the drafting or amending process of this EU policy[32]. The ENP set quite modest objectives for the countries of shared neighbourhood: certain economic packages and/or trade and visa liberalizations without any membership prospect. These modest goals notwithstanding Moscow criticized the ENP as an instrument for squeezing Russia out of its sphere of influence. The situation had not resulted in an open Russian-European confrontation mostly because of low level of EU ambitions in Eastern Europe and Russia’s attempts to create a great power deal with the EU.  The closed diplomacy, however, did not result in any sort of deal between Russia and Europe, and could only postpone conflict until one of the sides would make a next step in the region.

  1. Eastern Partnership and Geopolitical Explosion

The situation has dramatically changed after 2003-2004. Even though the EU repeatedly discarded the geopolitical rationale in Eastern Europe, the series of coloured revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, change of government in Moldova brought to power leaders with strong Euro-Atlantic vision. These events strengthened competitive geopolitical perception of the EU in Russia. The past ten years demonstrated that Russia was prepared to full range of its hard power instruments in order to check Euro-Atlantic ambitions of these countries. Those included economic pressure and gas wars with Moldova and Ukraine, subversive action in Kyrgyzstan and even full scale military operation against Georgia in 2008.

The EU was not prepared to Russia’s assertiveness and by seeking compromise and peaceful solution it encouraged Moscow to escalate its pressure. Reluctance to give some specific membership prospect or to upgrade ENP Action Plans for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, sent a signal that the EU declared policy “more-for-more” had a very limited effect. The failure of the EU to support Ukraine in Russian-Ukrainian gas wars in 2005/6 and 2007/8 and to support Moldova during Russian embargo on its agricultural exports, strengthened Russia’s perception of Europe as weak and complacent actor. Even though the European Union managed to play an important role in the mediation of the conflict and Russia accepted the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia, the overall result was disappointing. Europe failed to support friendly neighbours in its periphery when they faced unmotivated aggression from Russia. The continuation of high level negotiations with Russia and some extra attempts to engage with Russia in the form of the Partnership for Modernization tabled in 2010  strengthened Russia’s belief that assertive foreign policy is a useful tool in dealing with Europe[33].

  1. Eastern Europe and Caucasus: Between the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and Eurasia

The adoption in 2008 of a special targeted EU approach to Eastern Europe and Caucasus Eastern Partnership enhanced the geopolitical competition in the two regions.  The new track within the ENP was a result of the combined efforts of Germany, Poland, Sweden and Lithuania throughout their hold on the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, as well as of the continuous attempts to counterweight the southern member states’ struggle to enhance the emphasis in the Mediterranean region. The EaP Eastern Partnership thus emerged as a dichotomy aiming both at fostering partnership in various areas within the countries through a multilateral track, as well as at setting the pace and ambitions through a bilateral track. The multilateral activity was framed through flagship initiatives in Border Management, SMEs, Energy Markets and Environmental Governance. To their avail biannual meetings of Foreign Ministers of the countries concentrating on the advancement of objectives were conducted, while being typically distributed in four multilateral platforms: Democracy, Good Governance and Stability; Economic Integration and Convergence with EU policies; Energy Security; Contacts between People. The last one was supposed to work as a socialization network of member states and neighbours, who work together for the governmental ‘twinning’ of good practices and to foster non-state capacity building in the Region through the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. However, the economic rationale remains the main drive between actions on behalf of EU and its partners. Devoid of mid- to long-term membership prospects, the EaP promotes market integration as an exclusive reward for adapting to the desired performance. The only legal instruments for that remain the Deep Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTAs) as part of the long term political and economic roadmaps in the form of association agreements, even though until recently even this degree of commitment was resisted from the inside.

Within the logic of the geopolitical competition with the EU, Russia construed the EaP as an attempt to pull countries of Eastern neighbourhood from Russia[34]. To compete with the EU Moscow has launched its integration initiative: the Eurasian Economic Community, which included several post-Soviet countries, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan and Belarus, the co-founders of the Customes Union, have developed even stronger economic and political ties with Russia, while Uzbekistan has distanced itself from the project. The Eurasian Customs Union or the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia was signed on 1 January 2010. Over the past four years the CU members established a single customs space and removed custom checks on the internal borders. External tariff and nomenclature of customs goods and duties were introduced. The Eurasian Economic Commission was set up. The next stage of integration will be creation of Eurasian Economic Union by 2015[35].

Despite some initial success in daclitating regional trade and dynamic institutional structure replicating EU model[36], the CU Union did not appeal to other Post-Soviet states. Nevertheless, the lack of EU interest in Eastern Europe became once more a factor for Russia’s more assertive policies in the region. While trying to convince its neighbours to reject DCFTA agreements with the EU, Russian officials referred first and foremost to the lack of membership prospects[37]. When this argument failed, Russia used threats and economic pressure in an attempt to force Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine to join the CU. Armenia, who used to be one of the champions of Europeanisation in South Caucasus, had to make a U-turn given its heavy security dependence on Russia.

While in Armenia such a U-turn raised only limited public scepticism, similar policies towards Ukraine led to major popular unrest Euromaidan and the overthrow of Yanukovich government in February 2014. The subsequent Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the support of armed separatists and direct participation in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine demonstrate that Moscow will pursue policies aimed at destabilizing the countries in its periphery if they pursue policies of further integration with the EU and NATO. Therefore, the situation in the shared Russian-European neighbourhood will be further shaped by the tension between Russia’s hard-power response to the EU involvement in the region and the response of the domestic societies to Russia’s coercion. Most likely Russia will resort to the covert operation and destabilization of Ukraine, Moldova and Azerbaijan. In that case, Moscow will exert trade and energy pressure on Europe and use its proxies in order to undermine EU capacity for action.

To address Russia’s scenarios of destabilization of the European neighbourhood the EU should put to trial its capacity for coordination in foreign policy, military intervention, border security and political will, which will hardly be possible without further strengthening its core along federal lines. It is not to say that the EU should pursue assertive foreign policy in all directions. To the contrary, the authors suggest that the EU should carefully select, on the one hand, the regions where it should pursue value-based approach and, on the other, the regions where it should pursue realist strategic agenda. In both cases, though, these policies should be pursued with strengthened commitment, well-thought strategy and uncontested coherence.

Putting foot on the ground in Eastern Europe

The EU should put an end to the ambiguity as to its commitment to Eastern Europe. Statements like “Ukraine is not ready to join the EU and the EU is not ready to integrate Ukraine either” [38] or “the door is not closer nor ope open”[39] should be changed to a clear message saying that Europe will stand by with the countries of the region and will do its best to strengthen their statehood. Ideally, Europe’s commitment should come in the form of a membership prospect and a specific new “Marshall plan” for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia; it should also come with the conditionality strings attached, which will facilitate speedy reformation of these states and their transition. It becomes obvious that Russia’s pressure will probably lead to further destabilization in the region. Therefore, the imperative for EU policies in the region should be a more proactive clear-cut goal setting, a well-thought strategy and clear messages, rather than reactive situational responses and a set of instruments tailored for this goal. A more nuanced approach should be adopted, taking into account local dynamics on the ground and anticipating Russia’s moves.

Leaving Moscow an exit space through engaging with BRICS

To allow Russia an exit strategy from the stand-off the above measures should be accompanied with an offer for Russia intensify dialogue aimed creating a Common Economic Space between EU and Russia. It is often forgotten that Russia and the EU have agreed to create such a space was achieved at the St. Petersburg Summit in May 2003. The road map agreed in 2005 sets out objectives and areas for cooperation for the short and medium-term. Regular progress reports indicate that the two side have made significant effort to launch fourteen dialogues on approximation of legislation covering most economic sectors have so far been established. This framework is complemented by sectorial agreements between both sides[40]. Kazakhstan and Belarus should be brought onboard to broaden the format of discussions. This would  which would address Russia’s concerns about new dividing lines on the continent and multiply incentives for more cooperative policies from Russia.

Support to the statehood in Europe’s neighbourhood

The EU has demonstrated its commitment to help the countries of Eastern Europe. The signing of the Deep Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and macroeconomic assistance have already given a boost to the economic development in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The early opening of EU markets for agricultural products from Ukraine and Moldova helped make up for the losses incurred due to Russian economic pressures. The reverse gas supplies from the EU to Ukraine helped this country deal with heavy energy dependence. Further economic assistance and prompt implementation of the DCFTA will allow these countries to stabilize their economy and build prosperity.

At the same time, there is growing challenge to the statehood in the security and political sphere. After ten years of successful reforms the new Georgian government is pressing charges against former president M. Saakhashvilli. Moldova’s Europeanisation process is stumbling[41]. Ukraine faces the most urgent need for EU support as it faces a challenge of maintaining its territorial integrity and statehood in the face of Russian subversive action. Probably the countries of Eastern Europe face most critical challenge to their statehood at this stage. Any impact in one or another direction can turn them either in a successful democratic society or a failed state. In the latter case, repercussions will be serious for Europe. A major military conflict at the territory of Ukraine – country with 45 million population, significant military stockpiles and eight nuclear power plants – can produce waves of migrations and refugees as well as increase in trafficking in weapon and nuclear disasters. Even if a major state failure will be avoided a lack of progress in the transition to functioning democracy and market economy can also have negative consequences. The countries will slide into a  “Greek scenario”, when lack of substantive political debate, competitive economics and politics result in eventual in poverty, clientelist state and social polarisation, migration and the rise of all sorts of populism. In both these cases, the credibility of the EU will be seriously undermined. Not only our ability to lead the transition of post-Socialist countries will be questioned, but the whole ability to prevent collapse and instability in Europe’s neighbourhood.

In order to prevent an epic failure Europe should display a more commitment to promoting strong statehood in its neighbourhood. To achieve the change the EU should offer a membership prospect to the countries of the region which stated their European aspiration, such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. No matter when this membership would be possible Europe should use as a tool of increasing the effect of conditionality on internal transformation of these countries. The EU support to other countries of Eastern Europe – Azerbaijan, Belarus and Armenia – should be commensurate with the extent of their preparedness to undertake decisive steps on the path of democratic transformation.

Strengthening Eastern Europe’s statehood

Europe’s effort to strengthen the statehood of the countries in the region should be pursued in numerous ways. First, the EU should join efforts in assisting the countries with security sector reforms to help these countries with rebuilding army and security services and enable them to consolidate control over their territory. Military assistance with defence weapons should be allocated to the countries of the region. A strong Trans-Atlantic partnership would be a useful toolbox to achieve this goal. Major European powers should consider following US example and designating Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan as strategic allies. Upgrading Europe’s relations with these countries to the level of strategic partnership with detailed common strategies and joint actions, including supply of military assistance, joint military exercises and navy visit and patrolling, could send a strong signal that the EU is committed to provide strong support to these countries. These efforts should be made in cooperation with the individual Member States as well as with the countries and organisations which have already committed to support Ukraine’s statehood, e.g. US, Canada, Australia, Japan. At the same time, the abolition of strategic partnership with Russia could demonstrate that Europe is prepared to withdraw even symbolic legitimacy from Russia as a European power.

Hard security measures should be taken to strengthen strategic capabilities of the frontline states. The violation of the Swedish air space by Russian strategic bombers, seizure of the Lithuanian fishing boat in neutral territorial waters, kidnapping of the Estonian intelligence officer by Russian infiltrators suggest that formal membership and alliance with NATO and the EU does not make the countries of the Euro-Atlantic community fully protected from new security challenges. There is urgent need to for Europe to erect effective external border control and rules of engagement for cases of hybrid wars. The mandate of the European Agency for the Management of External Borders (Frontex) should be amended accordingly so as to address this new challenge.

The countries of the Eastern Partnership play an important role in the protection of Europe’s borders. The EU should also more effectively use its CSDP instruments and its presence on the ground. TheEU has already two missions deployed on the ground – EU Border Assistance Mission on Moldova-Ukrainian Border (EUBAM), EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) and EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform in Ukraine (EUAM). Although the EUAM has mandate to assist Ukraine with security sector reform this does not correspond to Europe’s ambitions and this country’s needs. It will be “a nonexecutive civilian mission. EU advisers will focus on supporting the elaboration of revised security strategies and the rapid implementation of reforms”[42]. In addition, the financial and institutional resources allocated to the mission are moderate. The EUAM budget of €2.65 million cannot be compared with the budgets of €111 million and other 21 million allocated to EULEX Kosovo and EUMM Georgia respectively[43]. The Union should increase the budget and expand the mandate of the mission in Ukraine. The new mission in Ukraine should work on the ground with the OSCE in order to keep the situation in the focus of international community. The EU should also upgrade its status by appointing a senior diplomat from a leading EU Member State as Head of Mission and EU Special Representative for Ukraine.

Another important mechanism of strengthening the statehood of the countries of Eastern Europe would be further internationalization of the region. Regional cooperation initiatives, in particular the group of Georgia-Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Moldova (GUAM) and Community for Democratic Choice  (CDC), which linked the countries along the Russian-European border  should be supported by the EU and NATO and open for participation of important regional players[44]. The EU should engage with other international actors which make effort to sustain the statehood of the countries of the region. These could be individual Member States, but also the countries outside the EU such as Norway, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Iran and Japan. The EU should also keep in mind non-state actors and entities which could contribute to sustaining the statehood of these countries.

The Ukraine crisis should become an important lesson for the EU on the weakness of early-warning capabilities. The Euro-Atlantic intelligence community failed to forecast two major international crises in the post-cold war era, i.e. Ukrainian revolution and Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. Conclusions should be drawn from this experience. The EU reporting network of the EU delegations and EU Member States agencies, Intelligence Analysis Centre and the EU Institute for Security Studies should be reformed as to be able to perform according the new strategic requirement, rather than producing post-factum interpretations of events. The networks of pro-European experts, simulations and situational analyses should become part of everyday routine of the relevant EU agencies. There should be a better link between reality and intellectual capacity of the Union. Closer interdisciplinary collaboration and higher mobility between the academia and policy-world should become an imperative for Europe’s action in Eastern Europe.

Promoting democracy and post-conflict reconciliation

Functioning democratic institutions, human rights, civil liberties and an economic development model based on fair competition are undoubtedly the key elements for stable statehood. They might have been good as goals, but proved to be quite vague and inconsistent as means. The prominent saying of one of the founding fathers of the European project Jean Monnet– nothing can happen without the people, nothing can last without institutions – has been misused by many European experts who gave preference to the latter at the expense of the former. As a result, the institutionalist approach to transition failed in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Technical assistance, infrastructure projects and legal advice deployed in the 1990s in the framework of the EU TACIS or TRASECA programmes did not make these societies irreversibly democratic and stable. Even democratic elections, thoroughly written democratic constitutions and strong democratic revolutions have not saved these countries from the possible return of authoritarianism as it happened in Ukraine Georgia and Moldova in the late 1990s[45].

The coloured revolutions and Euromaidan in Ukraine have demonstrated that the crucial driving force for change in these countries has been a broader public and civil society rather than existing political elites. Therefore, the primary focus of EU policies should be the people and the societies of the region. The effort should not be limited to a superficial stratum of English-speaking local intellectuals and elites, which implement various EU-funded project. As it has been pointed out reliance on these groups has often resulted in ‘NGO-cracy’, ascent to power of the groups of pro-Western civil society leader which unfortunately could secure their leadership and lead the change. [46] The visibility of the EU should be increased through wider participation of various EU bodies in the everyday life of Eastern Europeans, and through help with the resolution of their problems. It is also worth considering synchronisation of efforts made by Member States and NGOs from other European countries so as to increase effectiveness of EU activities in the region. The presence of Europe and European values in the life of the peoples of the region should be effectively publicized. Assistance projects should not be accessible only to well-established NGOs, but should instead encourage grass-root public civil participation. The EU should be involved at least in a number of politically-related and politically-neutral questions, from education reform to public control for tender procedures and anti-corruption measures with detailed benchmarks. The people of Eastern Europe should see what Europe means for their lives.  Measures should be aimed at empowerment and socialisation of the people of the region and at making the idea of war, intolerance and violence unimaginable and unthinkable as policy choices. The European Endowment for Democracy, EaP Civil Society Forum and other instruments of promoting democracy should allocate smaller grants to a bigger number of organisations. Grants should be accessible to both younger generation and local activists less exposed to international community. The hands-on approach advocated by smaller international organisations aimed at gender equality and good governance and other soft-security issues can create important knock-on effect conducive to promotion of active civil society and democracy. This effort should be streamlined with the efforts made by individual Member States and other countries.

The education assistance should include, but not be limited to, expansion of the EU education programmes and internships for the young generation of EaP citizens in Europe. For example, from 2004 to 2014 Georgian, Moldova and Ukrainian students received only 462 scholarships for studying at MA programmes in Europe[47].  Although the numbers grow there should be significant increase in order to achieve critical mass for qualitative change. Most importantly, the transfer of values should not follow only the route from the countries of the Neighbourhood to the European Union and back. The transfer of values should also be directed from Europe to Neighbourhood. Put bluntly, Europeans should come and live together with Ukrainians, Moldovans and Georgians, helping them to implement and internalize European values. New European education programmes and institutions, such as joint masters in conflict-resolution and public administration, should be founded and based in these countries.   Central European University has played an important role in bringing change in Central Europe. A similar European University founded in Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia should become an anchor of change in Eastern Europe.  The EU experience of post-conflict reconciliation through democratisation and empowerment of new generation of leaders should be used to promote its case in Ukraine.

The EU has considerable potential to mobilize European youth to participate in the life of Eastern Europe, and help facilitate the transfer of European values to its neighbours. The example of the American Peace Corps can be used to mobilize more young bright Europeans to come and share their experience with the youth of Eastern Europe. The experience of mission work with American Peace Corps and other volunteer organisations significantly expand career opportunities for the US mission. EU institutions provide ample opportunities for European youth to spend several months in Brussels working as interns in the European Commission or Parliament. At the same time, opportunities for similar work in Europe’s periphery are limited to several junior professionals programmes and sporadic non-paid internships in some EU Delegations around the world. A systematic flow of Europeans should be secured

It is important that this process is not framed as these countries’ choice between the West and Russia. In order to create a more inclusive transition framework, the EU should deploy both the above mentioned ENPI and EaP instruments, but also its macro-regional strategies targeting potentially vulnerable regions of South of Ukraine and Moldova. The EU inclusive macro-regional strategies such as Danube Strategy and Black Sea Synergy[48] should be adjusted as to become instruments for strengthening the statehood of the Eastern Partnership countries, as well as those in EU experiencing similar problems The involvement of traditionally neutral Member States such as Greece and Austria, for dealing with the minorities in these countries, could be an important instrument for conflict-prevention and post-conflict reconciliation in these countries. The EU experience of the post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction of the Balkans should be used in the East and South of Ukraine. The effort should also be made on a sub-regional level and at the level of European civil society. Europeans should be encouraged to join European Voluntary Service and work on bringing European values to these countries

Energy security and independence

While focusing on energy self-sustainability, EU should further boost the aims set by the 2020 strategy[49]. These efforts should be complemented by a drastic surge in energy diversification efforts. Currently, Russia is trying to bring on feet new energy structures through pro-Russian parties that are in hold of the governments in the Member States. The South Stream project has been denied by the Commission due to insufficient conformity with EU law and infringements in the public procurement.  Its implementation is inextricably related to the national interests of Austria, Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria. While weaker Bulgaria has bent over US’ criticism and promised to postpone the project until the full compliance with EU legislation, including procurement tending, Austria and Hungary sided with Putin and advanced the deal. To Serbia it might mean waiving its accession aspirations. South Stream is going to bypass Ukraine and thus deflect one of the options for the country to combat Russia’s coercion – closing the gas tap. With the annexation of Crimea, Russia ensured its non-compliance with the third energy liberalization package of EU, which requires a clear division between energy producing and energy transportation – now it could simply use the coastal territories to shorten the routes of its energy projects and avoid pertinent EU law. This will allow it to have a greater say by owning and running the new pipe, which is why EU should ensure the hard stand of the Member States on the periphery.

The pressure can also be increased in the domain of Russian energy. The energy action by the EU was an example of successful removal of Russia’s energy threat. Over the past year a number of events brought a tectonic shift in the Russian-European energy relationship. In particular, the arrival of the shale gas to Europe and the start of the Iranian gas export, the gas price dropped by about 10%, going below the USD 100 pro barrel mark, which puts serious strain on the Russian budget[50]. In addition, Iran has stated its readiness to substitute Russian gas supplies to Europe[51]. To sustain its energy independence the EU should revitalize the Nabucco pipeline project by bringing on board Azerbaijan’s resources and Georgia’s transit capacity. Thus the independence on Russia could be lessened, while big transit countries such as Turkey could form in favour of EU.  It should also concentrate on securing and bolstering existing supply from Libya and Nigeria, as well as on preparing to re-engage Turkey in the talks. Europe can achieve even more by halting transfer of advanced drilling technologies to Russia. The drop in Russia’s energy sales and production will have immediate effect on Russian budget.

In addition to the sanctions against companies belonging to, or affiliated with, the Russian government the EU should use a more targeted approach. Smart sanctions should target the leading figures of Putin’s regime responsible for the support of separatism in Ukraine. The freeze of assets and personal criminal responsibility should be more consistently applied when dealing with top leaders of Putin’s regime, many of whom own properties and spend a lot of time in the EU. Overall, Europe should reflect upon the dilemma how far it can tolerate the presence of people who have been involved in the destabilisation of Europe’s neighbourhood. Some dubious Ukrainian personalities were arrested in Europe with accusation of money laundering. Nevertheless, a lot of efforts should be invested in the peaceful integration of the Russian communities in Europe.

Dealing with Frozen Conflicts

It has become clear that Russia sees the establishment of frozen conflicts as a legitimate, and even profitable form of foreign policy. The self-proclaimed republics of Transnistria, Abkhazia, South-Ossetia, Crimea, Donentsk and Lugansk People’s Republic will most likely remain Russia’s important leverage against the countries Eastern Neighbourhood[52]. Destabilising these areas is Moscow’s key tool for influence on these countries. It is highly important for Europe to define its role in these areas and act accordingly. It would be advisable for the European Union to adopt a more nuanced approach to these conflicts. Although the EU has more limited negotiation power due to lack of its presence on the ground, it should continue play active part in negotiations in these conflicts. The experience of EU Border Monitoring Mission in Georgia, EU participation in “5+2” talks in Transnistria might be a scenario as to how the European Union can play stabilising role in the region of Eastern Partnership. This success should be fixed and maintained. Another important issue for the EU would be to keep the issue of conflicts in the focus of international community. EU should use multilateral tactics, including the UN to demand that Russian peace-keeping forces are removed and replaced with genuinely international forces and the participation of other European and post-Soviet states.

In addition, the EU should seek closer engagement with the societies and elites of the break-away republics. Presidential elections in Transnistria and Abkhazia, where Kremlin’s candidates were defeated, suggests that there is a strong local political dynamics which is not controlled by Moscow.  The long-standing negotiation and engagement policies in Transnistria seem to have made the use of force and violence unthinkable in this conflict zone. Similar engagement in Ukraine and in Georgia could help the EU to cultivate peaceful forces and strengthen security of the region. The potential of other countries of the region which are traditionally close to the societies of the region Greece, Iran, Turkey should also be utilized for this purpose. Such a strategy would require the EU to allocate more financial, political and institutional resources for resolving this conflict.  Brussels should restore the post of the EU Special Representative for Moldova and create Special EU Representative for Ukraine with a broad mandate. Lessons should be drawn from previous failures and these posts as well as the post of the EU Representative for Caucasus should be filled by a heavy-weight and committed European diplomats of the ministerial level. The Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement should be represented by a senior European politician of the level of former prime-minister. Their efforts should be synchronized with the efforts made by individual Member States in the European periphery and the participants in the Black Sea Economic Community.

Nuclear non-proliferation and the Iranian question

The dominant factors in the nuclear proliferation in MENA has been result on one hand, of the Iranian perseverance to augmenting its nuclear armament and on the other, the persisting antipode of many of the countries with Israel, which allegedly is also in possession of nuclear powerheads. Most of the countries in MENA have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the late 70s (Saudi and Egypt) and while Libya has decided to abrogate its armament in exchange for political credentials, the Iranian question remains a gravest concern that has dominated EU’s foreign policy agenda. The treaty itself (IAEA, 1970) postulates that the signatories cannot transfer (Art.II) or provide (Art. III, 2) fissionable materials and commits itself to apply safeguards of their peaceful usage (Art. III). Ever since its birth in 1979, Iran has had tremulous relations both with its neighbours and the USA. To have nuclear power heads could have been Iran’s sole security recipe, especially vis-à-vis Iraq’s possession of chemical weaponry.  However, the country joined the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty In 1970 and committed itself to fulfilling its safeguards standards (Art.III) in 1974.

In 2002 the disregard of the treaty by North Korea led to the rethinking of its benefits by certain signatories. There was a rising suspicion of surreptitious activity taking place, which led to a strict scrutiny and a series of critiques. The main points of contention were the enrichment of uranium through gas centrifuges that increase the Uranium-235 isotope, as well as the construction of a reactor moderated by heavy water. Teheran has claimed that this activity is aimed at producing low-enriched uranium for nuclear power plants and medical isotopes and not high-enriched one for warheads. The concerns are that the output fuel used in the processing could be reprocessed to power up warheads. After lengthy investigations, the US State department concluded that Iran has infringed Art. 2 of the Treaty, as for 20 year it has conducted clandestine activities that had no economic reasoning. The official position of the Iran is that this is a breach of its national security and has showcased as a double standard.

In 2006 the international community disengaged economic sanctions against Iran, which have had detrimental effects to the exports from the member states towards the country, as for example in the last three years the German exports have fallen with 20% (Martin & Azarnouh, 2014). The situation utilized mostly by China, as well as Turkey and Russia. In an attempt to lessen the pressure of the sanctions the new president Hassan Rohani has promised the international community investing possibilities. The result was achieved after the reaching of a broad, long-term agreement completed in November 2013 in Geneva, which came into effect at the beginning of 2014. During its preparatory work the 5+1 format of the UN Security Council Baroness Ashton played a meditative role. Owing to the commitment to decrease the enrichment of Uranium and to begin with the development of a monitoring framework, a lessening of the sanctions on behalf of EU and USA has been brought about. The most crucial element remains the comeback of the investments in the modernization of oil extraction, as currently the successive 7% growth between 2005 and 2011 has fallen to a mere 1% (Mez, 2013).

The EU3+3 (UN Security Council + Germany) negotiations’ format forged a Joint Plan of Action that was intended to timely constrain the militarization of Iran’s arsenal, so that a timeframe for reaction of at least one year appears. In exchange for a limitation of uranium enrichment to 5%, plutonium solely for civilian usage and IAEA’s monitoring[53] (however, no obligation to destroy its 19,000 centrifuges and uranium enrichment equipment)[54] Iran received temporary lift-offs for the sanctions and more recently, a further deadline for the particularization of the JPA till July after a year of diplomatic efforts. While whilst France should provide counterweight to the Republican majority in the Senate from January 2015, which could mean a drastic conservative change on behalf of US, the EEAS should focus on remaining the architect of the deal with Iran.

Ostensibly the rapprochement of Iran remains of strategic importance due to the fact that its isolation has meant clientelism towards Hezbollah, support of the Assad regime and influence in Iraq’s new government. Iran has previously revealed its inclination towards fighting the Taliban, has credible potential for improved relations with countries such as Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and has tangibly changed the dynamics of the relations with Turkey[55]. While it has conflicting interests in Syria, Ankara is not seen as a treat and is supportive of civic nuclear developments in Iran. Due overlapping interests in Syria and Libya, Russia has increased its military cooperation with Teheran[56]. This growing influence has seen the criticism of the UAE and Israel, as well as the Sunni jihadists’ activity in Syria and Iraq[57]. Last, but not least, the lasting hostilities between Iran and Israel have made the latter regard Iran’s commitments as insufficient.


Among the issues, raised in the Energy Strategies of the EU towards MENA is the creation of an expansion of the Energy Community towards the Southern Neighbourhood, which encompasses the strengthening of the existing transfer network, as well as efforts at increasing the energy efficiency and self-sustainability of the region as a pavement towards increased energy exports towards the EU. The alternative energy sources have become another focus, as for example Iran is trying to achieve 5000MW by 2015. In the review of the ENP, “A new response to a changing Neighbourhood”, the energy cooperation has been defined as in need of more energy convergence and further cooperation, strengthening of environmental standards and nuclear safety. On another note, the strengthening and expansion of the electricity grid is a prerequisite for the integration into the European market of electricity.

The production of fossil fuels has fallen noticeably[58] in Libya (2013 it has fallen from 1,483.0 to 983.6 thousand barrels per year), Syria (from 170.5 to 75.1) and Yemen (from 171.1 to 133.1) and kept its level in the other MENA countries, with Saudi (267billion barrels), Iran (155) and Iraq (141) having the greatest reserves. However, gradually the importance of crude oil coming from the Middle East has changed because of two factors. The first one of them is dominance of the Gulf States such as Saudi and Kuwait, which are keeping good relations with USA. It is in their interests that Iran will remain internationally isolated and won’t develop its resources. On the other hand the oil coming from the northern part of the peninsula has an increased opportunity cost in the moment, as destabilization makes its production costlier and it is mainly redirected towards the informal markets.

The currently existing network (Medgaz from Algeria to Spain, Galsi to Sardinia and a Libya-Sicily pipeline) is planned to be expanded with the the Transanatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, expected to be operational in 2018[59]. There have been further indications that Iran has overcome its resilience and is ready to adjoin its production capacities to this pipe in view of exporting its products towards Europe through the existing infrastructure in Turkey, which can carry up to 25 bcm/year. It is expected for Turkmenistan to be attached to the pipeline through Iran and Iraq in the medium term prospect. Due to the economic downturn and the fall of the gas prices, in December Russia embarked on adjoining its pipeline to the Transanatolian one, notwithstanding its geopolitical rivalry with Turkey in Syria and Egypt.

The headfirst involvement in numerous energy projects might not be well perceived by the oil consortiums, which in principle prefer to use the existing network in contractually defined volumes. As Iraq and Libya are shaken by Islamic insurgencies and the predictability of gas delivery from them is arguable even in the mid-term, the EU-Iran relations gain importance, as otherwise Iran could try to compete with Qatar on the Asian Market.  On the other hand, as Saudi Arabia and other suppliers from the peninsula remain cautious and reluctant to increase significantly their exports, the EU should aim to steadily adjust its supply chain and carefully utilize the new Russia-Turkish cooperation.

The revamping of shale extraction in the United States might be expected to lessen their dependence on energy floating from the MENA region, but their engagement in devising and moderating security solutions in the region will continue due to its significance in the formulation of global energy prices. The vacuum has been filled by China, whose pragmatic emphasis on oil imports has evolved into a diversified economic engagement with political implications, as half of OPAC’s exports are already pointing to the growing eastern market. China has combined its abstentious multilateralism with political utilitarianism by engaging with actors of growing significance such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Bashar al-Assad and the al-Maliki government in Iraq, which strengthen the dynamism of its role in the region.

EU in Central Asia

Central Asia is a region which presents a dual challenge to the European Union. The first element of this circumstance is presented in the dilemma ‘values vs. order’. On one hand, the policies of authoritarian regimes in the region are incompatible with European values. With the exception of Kyrgyzstan, where a constitutional amendment brought parliamentarianism and showed commitment to pursuing democratic values, in the other Central Asian countries opposition has often been repressed  (in Kazakhstan the opposition Leader Vladimir Kozlov is still in prison, in Turkmenistan often opponents disappear). While in some of the countries such as Tajikistan and Kazakhstan there are guarantees for freedom of expression, the civil society sector often falls under pressure (harassment and intimidation in Uzbekistan), while media is largely scrutinized by governmental agencies. Often law enforcement bodies (the police and the prosecution) are instrumental in pursuit of this oppression and their methods, such as breach of privacy (Kazakhstan), torture (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan), absence of fair trial (Tajikistan) and these actions remain largely unpunished. Religious freedoms continue to be harshly impaired in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, as in the latter the only Central Asian country where an Islamic party is in the parliament. On the other hand, the failure of the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan indicated that there the local societies are still unable to establish and sustain liberal democratic order. The normative power of Europe is far lower in this part of the world to produce a sustainable democratization effect.

At the same time, the authoritarian governance of the countries in the region nears its limits in providing security and settling various societal tensions. The uprisings in Adijon in Uzbekistan and inter-ethnic conflict in Osh (Kyrgyzstan) challenged the legitimacy of authoritarian state institutions. In Tajikistan, the centre-periphery tensions resulted in Islamic movement taking over control of some parts of Rasht valley[60]. Even most skillful and strong authoritarian leaders of the region – Kazakh President N. Nazarbayev and Uzbek leader I. Karimov – have to resort to occasional purge within their own apparatus[61]. The emphasis on regime security rather than societal is increasing this tension and is likely to eventually result in the explosion of instability or implosion of the local societies with all the accompanying challenges.

In the view of this situation the EU should consider relevant strategy to address these tensions. The new EU strategy in the region should, however, keep in mind the second element of the challenge coming from the region – its highly competitive geopolitical environment. The EU has to face a number of other geopolitical actors, including Russia, China, India, Iran, Turkey and Japan. Some of these players have already articulated their ambitions in the region by setting regional integration schemes. The Customs Union, soon to become Eurasian Economic Union, ties Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to Russia in economic and, potentially, political terms. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, recently dominated by China, promotes stronger security cooperation in the region. Japan promotes its own developmental agenda in the region. Turkey seeks a closer involvement into Customs Union. India applies a more differentiated approach, which allows more room for manoeuvres and more effective policies[62]. Due to its insignificant engagement both in terms of security and in monetary terms, the EU thus fails to provide an alternative vision, especially in contrast to vertical dependencies on Russia and generous Chinese investments in infrastructure, which do not condition their activity (in the Schanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) or the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)) to the internal developments in Central Asia[63].

Despite these poor initial conditions and strong regional competition the European Union has a strong comparative advantage – its rich experience of securing a long-term stable social and economic development. Unlike, the EU the closest regional powers – China, Russia and India – tend to promote only their own economic interests and geopolitical influence. There is no effort made to secure a long-term development and peace in the region. Given this dual challenge the EU should adopt a nuanced and flexible approach to the region in order to exercise its comparative advantage in the region.[64]

EU Engagement with the region

Initially the EU involvement in the region pursued a quite modest technocratic agenda. It was believed that the programmes of technical assistance (TACIS) and infrastructure development (TRASECA) would promote development and, thus, stability and security in the region. In 2007, the involvement was further strengthened by a strategy adopted by the Council – the “The European Union and Central Asia: The New Partnership in Action”, complemented by the “Regional Strategy Paper for Assistance to Central Asia”, which clearly emphasizes the importance of rule of law, education and environmental issues. 

With the growing EU involvement in its neighborhood the element of security and strategic interests was more explicit in the EU policy documents. The creation of the post of the European Union Special Representative for Central Asia was an important step to upgrading the EU role in the region. The EUSR played important role by bridging internal and external divides in the EU foreign policy in the region.[65] In addition, the assignments of experienced senior European diplomats to these positions led to the EU growing respects in the region. Ján Kubiš, former Secretary General of the OSCE and high official in the UN, senior French diplomat Pierre Morel and senior German diplomat Patricia Flor serving as EUSR in the region could successfully coordinate policies between Brussels and missions on the ground as well as to create synergies between different EU institutions and Member States from 2005 to 2014.

The emerging security agenda in the EU-Central Asia relations was first stated in 2012 when the EU Foreign Ministers first stressed the growing security challenge coming from Afghanistan[66]. Pursuing this agenda EU and Central Asia launched a High-Level Security Dialogue. Moreover, a Joint Plan of Action for Central Asia under the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy has been developed and is currently being implemented[67]. EU programs to increase border security and combat drug trafficking have also been advanced through the launch of the Border Management Programme for Central Asia (BOMCA).

Despite these ambitious goals the weak implementation of the EU policies in the Central Asia shows lack of commitment to bringing change to the region.  A number of weaknesses and inconsistencies should be addressed in order to make these policies more coherent. The recent decision by the EU High Representative C. Ashton to abolish the post of EU Special Representative and to appoint EU Special Envoy with vague mandate effectively downgraded the EU presence in the region. By appointing a mid-rank diplomat from a smaller EU Member State to this position has further undermined the EU clout in the region. The post of the EU Special Representative for Central Asia with strong mandate should be reinstalled in order to secure interaction between soft- and hard security issues.

Currently, the instruments at hand instituted by the strategy are human rights dialogues, public statements and “quiet diplomacy”, as well as funding through Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development (NSA-LA), the Instiution Building and Partnership Programme (IBP), and the Instrument for Stabilty (IfS). EU hold also Human Rights Dialogues and Civil Society Seminars with each of the countries, technically focusing on a large range of issues. They are often raised in a careful manner and en-bloc and have had concrete results only in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, where dialogue on cases of between the governments and civil society took place. One of the traditional problems with the EU-funded democracy promotion programs is that their main instrument is large-scale programmes available only large-scale NGOs[68]. There is similar problem with hard security issues. The EU Border Management Programme fails to produce necessary effective outcomes with the implementing bodies both in the region and Brussels being preoccupied with outputs rather than outcomes[69]. One can identify similar problem in the implementation of other EU-funded projects. There is permanent lack of cultural perspective, grass-ross impact and institutional memory.

There are should be three important changes in the EU policies in the region. While promoting democracy, the EU should acknowledge that there is currently no sufficient demand in the society for democratic and competitive societal arrangements. Paternalism and clientelism are strong social institutions that shape politics in most of the Central Asian countries. This is not to say that the EU should abandon its value-based policies in the region, but to suggest that the Europe’s policies in the region should rely on the success stories of modernizing countries of the South-East Asia. The process of change and succession of power should be in line with the existing societal structures. As it was suggested by one of the leading European analysts Europe should use anthropological approach and rely on the existing institutions of traditional society as it was the case in post-WWII reconstruction of Japan[70]. This approach should take into account specific societal institutions and practices and aim to democratize and modernize these societies in mid- and long-term perspective. Speaking about the scale of projects, the EU should reconsider its financing approach and set up specific financial instruments to promote the grass-root change and take advantage of the institutes of local culture. The experience of such instruments as European Endowment for Democracy should be used as a model for promoting democracy and security in the region.

One of the significant drawbacks in EU’s activity in the region is connected with its own visibility, as often it remains unclear that the assistance comes from all the countries in the Union, as the engagement of certain member states, such as Germany is much clearer to identify. On the other hand, when the Commission is distributing assistance, its implementation is done by other actors such as the UNDP or the OSCE. Thirdly, the total amount of assistance (2007-2013: allocated €675 million out of €719 Million) does not represent a significant stake for regional actors to disavow control over energy resources and the rising opposition, as showcased by Kyrgyzstan in 2005, when three MEPs were murdered[71].

Often the countries allegedly commit themselves to EU’s human rights preconditions only in order to get access to the funds provided. Due to the security vacuum that will appear in Afghanistan after NATO’s withdrawal and the strategic importance of Central Asia as a buffer, the EU has begun to gradually switch the focus to security-related cooperation, as the only way to increase its significance. High level security dialogues took place in Brussels in 2013, which identified the key threats – ethnic tensions, illegal migration, organized crime, human and drug trafficking and water scarcity. The latter has become increasingly important considering the shrinking of the Aral Sea, the need for irrigation for the cotton production in the region and the Uzbek-Tajik Rogun dam conflict. It is exemplary for the persistent discrepancy between the oil-rich Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and the water-rich Kyrgystan and Tajikistan. The lack of any economic trade of between these resources means that the first group should focus on improving its often dilapidated transfer network, insofar as the second continues to dismantle cooperation. The EU should revise and specify the focus of its developmental aid to ensure that it certain poverty reduction goals are achieved.

Rebuffing Security

Although the region poses mainly security and stability challenges related to the trans-regional character of human security treats, such as water shortage, poverty, Islamic radicalization stemming from Afghanistan and consequently migration flows, with the strategy the EU has chosen a softer approach. It addresses mainly areas of cooperation such as education, environment, trade and transportation.  However, as defined in the strategic document the desired stability and prosperity are dependent on “respect for the rule of law, human rights, good governance and the development of transparent, democratic political structures”[72]. This focus is an integral part of EU’s foreign policy and in this region remains a main prerequisite for the foreseen instruments, such as financial and technical assistance, trainings and secondment of experts, etc.

Various traditional security measures are often linked to the EU-Russia Common Space of External Security. In the view of changing Russian foreign policy this link should be reconsidered. Russia’s monopoly on the transit of energy from Central Asia dictates the need to expedite the construction of alternative transit routes, specifically the TRASECA and TANAP’s that begins from Turkmenistan.

A significant factor in the shift from human rights to security in the region is the lack of quantifiable societal changes in terms of human rights since the launching of the strategy. Among countries Uzbekistan remains notorious for the 2006 Andijan clashes, when hundreds of civilians were murdered by the state police. It ranks together with Turkmenistan, where “no effective political opposition, independent judiciary, or free civil society present”[73], among one of the most closed and repressive countries worldwide.

Even though Kazakstan held the OSCE Chairmanship in 2010 it repudiated most of the civil society’s recommendations. Moreover, in 2011 its state police suppressed an oil workers’ protest killing 14 and injuring 11 people and has fallen under EU’s critique. Another significant factor in the region remains the ethnic pressure between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, which resulted in 470 killed, thousands injured and 400 000 displaced during the clashes in June 2010.

The lack of parliamentary oversight by the EP over the rules over arms export defined in EU’s common position has led to its redundancy. Regardless of the EU arms embargo Germany and Austria have licensed an export of arms worth resp. €0.2 (an armored vehicle) and €0.9 million (small arms) to Uzbekistan and are suspected to have conducted military trainings throughout the period.[74] The arms race could be explained by Russia’s major arms transfers to Kazakhstan that will increase its grip over the Caspian basin, the major gas sources for alternative routes to EU. Central Asian countries seem, with the exception of Kazakhstan, reluctant to reform the technologically obsolete and uncoordinated security sector and with such actions the EU is endangering the security of their population.

Afghanistan’s adjacency to the region has had numerous effects, many of which are present in Tajikistan, which remains a nexus of adversity. The EU is, however, not considered a significant stakeholder in the Afghani question and Central Asian countries are unwilling to seek shared solutions on it. This is likely to remain a trend, as the emerging presidential dynasties in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan continue being reluctant to name successors outside their close family. The narrative of direct involvement of Afghani state and security authorities in drug-trafficking has gradually turned into a recipe for an inextricable linkage between terrorism and trafficking, which is often acclaimed by external actors without secondary consideration. However, in reality the same applies to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, where similar incursions have been present[75]. The popular notions of such spillovers would are only increasing the tensions within the existing ethnic and religious groups. Bearing in mind the disproportionally strong Afghani national police, a release 124 000 troops by 2017 is expected, which in addition to the expected repatriating of Afghani refugees by Pakistan is expected to result in further strain alongside the shared borders. Although EU is involved on numerous levels in the Afghani question, it has often failed to include Afghani representatives in its forums, trainings and missions[76] and this complex network has made synergies difficult to achieve.


For EU not to lose further ground on security related concerns, it needs to strengthen the ongoing discourse and achieve comprehensive engagement through intensification of its instruments and initiatives. They need to be complemented with diplomatic pressure conditioning the support to identifiable results in human rights, for which a change from principal talks to specific cases or issues is needed. The non-state sector should be recognized as a vital, which however needs a better understanding of the EU structures and principal functioning. Increase of the financial assistance, especially in terms of border management and other targets identified by the OSCE is needed to achieve spill-over effects and increased visibility. The Afghanistan question will continue to be high on the agenda of other powers and if the EU does not step firmly on the ground it risks losing completely its credibility as a security actor in the region. Continuing the successful security dialogues and engagement of other regional security organizations, such as the STO and the CSTO should continue to be one of EU’s focus, in order to position itself in the future of the region. The EU should at no point abandon its Human Rights paradigm in the region, as it is the only actor who is interested in the governance of the region and not simply its energy assets. As for the energy and water scarcity divide, the EU should become increasingly aware that the future economic and infrastructural integration of Afghanistan could reinvigorate this issue and it should seek a further involvement of Afghani authorities in various forums and initiatives. For that to happen cautiousness when approving of the existing rhetoric on higher political levels should be maintained. The revision of EU’s border assistance post-2015 should include reassessment and focus on security sector reform, improving training and technical aptness and establishing economic routes with Afghanistan. When it comes to its energy interests, the EU should be aware of the Russian desire to control as much coastal waters in the Caspian Sea as possible and meticulously scrutinize the arms involvement of the Member States. 

Following a Spanish and French initiative in 1995 the 15 Member states yearned to upgrade their relations with the 12 MENA countries by creating “an area of dialogue, exchange and cooperation guaranteeing peace, stability and prosperity”[77], which was based on the guiding principles of equality, comprehensiveness, complementarity, gradualism and decentralization in the approach. The thus created bilateral structure consisted of Association Agreements and Action Plans, funded by the MEDA instrument and guided through its multilateral biannual ministerial conferences and bimonthly sectorial working groups, as well as a Parliamentary[78] and Civil Society forums.

After the inception of the ENP the process received new impetuses through the anniversary summit in Barcelona from 2005 that established new priorities in the areas of political and security partnership[79], sustainable socio-economic development and reform, education and socio-cultural exchanges, migration, social integration, justice and security[80], an impetus towards a free trade zone through the 2010 Roadmap and funding through the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument.

The approach towards MENA saw also an attempt for a mirroring enhanced partnership of the Member States that could be read as privatization efforts by N. Sarkozy on behalf of France, but pursuant to renouncing reactions by other member states led by Germany, it was renamed into the Union for the Mediterranean in 2008 and included in the general European Neighbourhood Policy. The approach has suffered most in terms of cumbersome bureaucracy, equity and co-ownership of the participating parties, visibility and concreteness of the initiatives, which altogether have led to projects based on infrastructure, business, sustainable energy and civic protection. 

Thus, through the acquit-based a normative export of EU’s guiding principles the unified ENP framework focused on fostering a ring of peace and economic progress around EU that could potentially blur EU’s external borders included the countries of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey – plus Israel and the Palestine Territories. Other countries, such as the Gulf States – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE – signed Cooperation Agreements,  the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf as early as 1989 (as well as Yemen in 1984), while Iran and Iraq have not formalized their relations with EU. These were further revised in 2008 by the new agreement for the Union for the Mediterranean.

The CFSP of the EU in the region has followed a strategy of effective multilateralism (Consilium, 2003, p. 9), both in terms of engagement with partners and the tools provided. It has been mainly economically driven, but has adopted a comprehensive approach addressing the specificity of the region in terms of cultural, political and economic interests and energy intensity. From a wider, Barcelona process perspective the main focus has been the provision of security and improved governance in the region, as well as restraining the migration flows, as evident from the complementary Area of Freedom, Security and Justice framework that deals with police, judicial and criminal cooperation and support for institution-building. On the other hand bilateral relations pursue the creation of political stability, democracy, economic integration in the region and human rights.

The inclusivity of the CFSP in MENA poses a number of challenges. To their avail comes a range of financial instruments, developmental aid, as well as sought convergence with other regional actors. The region has recently erupted and has produced a number of challenges that need to be addressed by the CFSP, but we will focus only to a number of them – “the greatest treat” of mass destruction, the Arab Spring and the Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq in Levant, as well as the Israeli / Palestinian divide, where through its hard CSDP EU has deployed 2 missions.


NATO’s engagement in the region is restricted by historical factors, such as the French and English colonization in the region, the bilateral interventionism in the region, as well as the perception of the Alliance as anti-Muslim expansionism due to the war in Afghanistan and the lack of support for the Palestinian cause. Its engagement in the region is achieved mainly through the Mediterranean Dialogue, which includes Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, and Algeria, and excludes Syria, Lebanon and Libya. Throughout the history the cooperation has been conditioned by the Cold War sentiments. For example, Russia’s support to Egypt and the breaking of the connection with Israel were decisive for the nature of the cooperation.

It has gradually evolved towards a practical oriented one, which includes different seminars, workshops, civic, environmental and crisis education, defence and strategy, crisis management etc. Generally speaking, the role of NATO is understood as complementary one, aiming at achieving “stability and security” in the region, also as a result of the difficulties western scholars are facing. While the Strategic Concept has been revised in 2000 and 2010, there is still no general framework in the sense of a grounding document or regional forum.

Moreover, the relation with the League of the Arabic States has not been formalized. Numerous missions have been conducted under NATO flag in the region – UNI Protector, AFRICOM and SOCOM[81] in Libya, UNIFIL in Lebanon, the Training Mission in Iraq, whereas the MENA countries have participated in NATO’s missions in Kosovo, Libya and Afghanistan. Since the inauguration of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and the visit to Qatar, a focus on religious extremism and terrorism has appeared, to which only Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait have committed themselves. Specifically with the EU since 1990 NATO is engaged into the Western Mediterranean Dialogue, e.g. 5+5 dialogue, comprising of 5 EU Member States and five Maghreb countries who regularly discuss Trans-Mediterranean security issues. NATO’s most recent activity is against the ISIS in Syria and Iraq, which so far has been limited only to air strikes (Gaub, 2012).

The EU and Africa

The Africa-EU partnership of 2007 gave way to closer ties between the EU and Africa. That partnership established as objectives: first, the reinforcement of mutual partnership to address common concerns and issues; second, the strengthening and promotion of certain socio-political objectives and values as well as to ensure that all African nations meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015[82]; third, joint promotion – and sustain – multilateralism as well as addressing global challenges and common concerns[83]; and fourth, the empowering of non-state actors and the creation of condition to allow them to play a major role in democracy building, conflict prevention, post-conflict, and development (Council of European Union, 2007).

That partnership also established four priorities: first, the promotion of peace and security through securing peace, security and stability in Europe and Africa, as well as addressing common challenges; second, the promotion of governance and human rights through addressing challenges and cooperation between the two partners; third, supporting trade and regional integration through private sector development, and trade and integration[84]; and fourth, to support African nations to meet the MDG’s (Council of European Union, 2007).

Noteworthy to mention, a partnership between the EU and the African Union (AU) was also established so both organization could provide an adequate and faster response to security threats. Operations executed by the AU could receive financial support from the EU. The rationale behind is that such threats can hamper the progress and development of Africa (Council of European Union, 2007). But they can also be an immediate threat to the stability and security of Europe, and also to the economic objectives the EU would have set in the region. And as it will be explained further on, the region is particularly vulnerable to terrorism and piracy.

Impunity at international and national level, support to the African security architecture, cooperation to tackle roots of conflict, terrorism and transnational crime are issues to tackle for the abovementioned cooperation. Anti-piracy, overfishing and toxic waste dumpling are issues as well. Human rights keeps their centrality within the partnership and cooperation, while financing AU-led operations by the EU is kept (EU-Africa summit, 2014).

The fourth Africa-EU summit held in April 2014 confirmed the central role security – along with peace – plays in the EU-Africa relations, labelling it as the first priority out of five[85]. Peace and security are both deemed necessary to gain human security and reduce fragility, foster political stability and effective governance as well as sustainable and inclusive growth. Cooperation between the EU and the AU is the main tool for gaining peace and security (EU-Africa Summit, 2014).

A proof that security matters for the EU regarding Africa – but also that certain EU members still executes their own foreign policies – are the execution – and widening – of military operations by France, intended to address the problems of terrorism in the sub-Sahara region[86]. Those steps are being followed by other EU member states, either by sending troops to the continent or by contributing[87]. The US is being actively present and it is also supporting – or encouraging – the security approach implemented by France and the EU (Balthasar & Barrios, 2014).

Trade is the second important element for the EU and Africa relations, thus encouraging economic and business partnerships with EU and African firms, giving special importance to the private sector. The aim is to shift from aid towards trade as the main economic mean to alleviate the chronic poverty that affects Africa, and also to turn the continent into a more economically active actor. As a result, a market of 137 billion € of EU imports and 152 billion € of EU exports was created (Balthasar & Barrios, 2014).

Apparently, according to Balthasar & Barrios (2014), the co-relation between security and economy is stronger than before and proofs that policy making so far has esteemed both as the core and main issues to be implemented when approaching Africa. But there are also some warnings: to oversee security and economy can lead to the dismissal of other important elements that were also established as priorities in the summits and partnerships[88].

Yet Africa still poses some serious challenges to the EU that inevitably force the EU to overlook on security. Challenges whose effect are not relegated only to the African continent, but they actually affect the whole globe one way or another. Those challenges and hotspots are the issues of piracy in Somalia and the Guinea Gulf (a recent and rising threat to international trade and energy transportation), the terrorist threat in Mali and Nigeria, the everlasting instability in Congo and the upcoming unrest in Central African Republic, and the humanitarian crises in Darfur and South Sudan. The last challenge is one that its nature might explain why both the EU and the US are increasingly paying more attention to Africa and the accent on military/security: the competence – and increased presence – of China for the African continent given its valuable resources for the Chinese economy. Resources that are also valuable for the EU economy.

Those challenges are going to be analysed in detail.


Africa is an important region for the European Union. Three are the factors that explains and at the same time highlights this importance: first, it is a neighbouring area posing some issues for the EU, along with the Middle East and especially in regards to security; second, it is a region where significant resources are located and could be profitable for the EU; and third, the colonial past between some European Great Powers and Africa.

Piracy: Somalia and Gulf of Guinea

Somalia has been one of the most problematic countries since the collapse of the Somali Democratic Republic and the following civil war since 1991. It has two main problems: the presence of al-Shabaab (a branch of al-Quaeda) and piracy. This one in particular is the most threatening for European and international interests, at such scale that unleashed an international response led by NATO (NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 2012).

This situation is being worsened by what Lord Levene, (2014) considers the condition of Somalia as a ‘failed State’ or the lack of sovereignty that could decrease the impact of piracy[89]. The nearby shipping routes passing by the Gulf of Aden, and the global economy are the main affected by piracy: the yearly cost of piracy is of US$ 18 billion lost to world trade, rising the insurance premiums for vessels transiting the area, the costs of reroutes or cancelling shipments, and forcing the hiring of private military contractors (PMCs) by shipping companies to repel pirate attacks (World Bank, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime & INTERPOL, 2013).

Although NATO was the first to answer the piracy threat with Operation Allied Provider in 2008, the EU also responded by implementing Operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta. Based on the CDSP frameworks, the operation has as objectives: First, the protection of World Food Programme vessels transiting the zone and delivering aid to displaced Somalian people, as well as protecting the shipping of the African Union Mission in Somalia; second, the deterrence, prevention, and repression of any potential piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast; third, protection of vulnerable shipping; and fourth, contribution to fishing activities monitoring on the mentioned zone (Knops, 2012; EUNAVFOR, 2014).

Operation Atalanta was extended until December of 2014 and it has been successful in diminishing the amount of attacks[90]. Additionally, this operation has been reinforced by EU-led Operation EUCAP Nestor. This operation is aimed at assisting Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, The Seychelles, and Somalia in developing maritime security, with anti-piracy and maritime governance aspects. The assets intended to be developed includes coast guard, navy, civilian coast police, prosecutors, judges, and others (EEAS, 2014).

In other words, the operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta is the military side of the anti-piracy efforts made by the EU, while EUCAP Nestor is the more civilian/’soft’ aspect of the fight against piracy. EUCAP Nestor places a special accent in enhancing maritime criminal justice system, for investigation of maritime crimes, arresting and detention of suspects, investigation and prosecution of perpetrators (EEAS, 2014). It is based also on the comprehensive approach of the EU on the Horn of Africa.

The comprehensive approach has, in turn, as core activities: first, the assistance of countries in the region to build strong political structures; second, work with countries of the region and international organizations to solve current conflicts and prevent potential future ones; third, decrease the impact of the current situation of insecurity on other actors; fourth, support efforts on promoting economic development, growth and poverty alleviation of countries in the region; and fifth, support political and economic regional cooperation (Council of European Union, 2012)[91].

Both NATO and EU have been cooperating – and complementing – in a very close way on their anti-piracy operations: the command center common location, and parallel execution of operations have enhanced their result and also have encouraged other nations like Japan, India, China and Russia to cooperate[92]. As a result, NATO and EU warships held joint exercises with Russian warships in the Gulf of Aden, while the Chinese navy had begun to approach NATO (NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 2012).

But Somalia is not the only hotspot regarding piracy and as a matter of fact, the Gulf of Guinea is witnessing an outbreak of piracy in the area: 58 attacks were executed and 10 hijackings took place in 2012, being the targets in most of the times vessels related to the oil industry thus jeopardizing the energy supply of the EU and other nations, as well as European maritime industry. As in the Somalian coasts, the attacks increase the price for consumers affected by such disruption of trade due to the implementation of security measures and the enforced navigation in alternate and less economic routes (Barrios, 2013).

Similarly to the Somalian case, but with a different degree, the state’s absence is plainly noted: minimal presence of coast guards and navies – of the neighbouring states – are the rule. This situation is worsened by the lack of training of the local navies and the non-presence of much more capable navies like the ones of NATO or the EU. Additionally, the governing structures are simply weak, inefficient and very prone to corruption (Barrios, 2013).

Also, the legislation is different in each of the countries around the area is different from each other, and since the attacks are not performed by a single country neither at international waters, to intervene is much more complicated. They are weak states, indeed, but not a single failed state as the source of the problem, which is worsened by the strong presence of criminal organizations encouraging pirate attacks (Barrios, 2013).

The Gulf of Guinea has a different scale, but the same impact. And at some point, either NATO or the EU will have to increase their presence, execute similar operations as of the executed ones in Somalia and cooperate with the local countries to tackle the problem. Beyond any doubt, the EU and its partners need to set an eye on the region and to address a problem that in a future, could have the same scale as the Somalian case.

Congo and Central African Republic

Congo (Democratic Republic) and the African Central Republic are both the old and new manifestations of African chronic instability and conflict that hampered its economic development.

In Congo, the most publicized case with a long history of instability, the EU has kept a substantial presence since 2003 with operation Artemis, which prevented a humanitarian disaster by separating and checking the Congolese and Ugandan armies and paved the way for UN MONUC. The EU also helped in establishing a special Congolese police force in the capital tasked with protecting the transitional government institutions, infrastructure and personnel. This operation was also a milestone since it was the first EU operation out of Europe (Howorth, 2007)

EUFOR RD followed Artemis and used a similar concept, with Germany and France providing most of the troops and other EU states participating. It served as a support for MONUC, aimed at stabilizing the country, protect civilians within the areas of deployment, the capital airport, and any other protect and rescue missions. This operation had a lot of political problems and was harshly criticized of limited coverage and strength in personnel, as well as some issues between France and Germany. In any case, another operation was implemented, named EUSEC RD, with the aim of providing training to the Congolese army on administrative issues and financing the Congolese elections of 2005 (Howorth, 2007).

A last operation is being executed in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2007, EUPOL RDC. The aim of this particular operation is to aim, manage and support the country’s authorities in a reform of the security and justice sector, focusing on the police forces and the justice system. It also places an accent on human rights, children’s rights in an armed conflict context and gender equality. Since 2009 it also focuses on fighting impunity and sexual violence[93].

The Central African Republic is, unlike The Democratic Republic of Congo, a recent hotspot in Africa. The political instability gave way to a provisional government until new elections take place in 2015. In the meantime, the African Union deploys a peacekeeping mission, along with the United Nations[94]. The EU also deployed an operation, EUFOR RCA Bangui, since February 2014. France, as in the case of Mali, is the spearhead nation due to the early implementation of Operation Sangaris. Nevertheless, the execution of this new operation reflects the importance of Africa and the Sahel stability for the EU, yet the EU does not intend to execute an operation longer than six months (Tardy, 2014).

This fact, along with the EU reluctance to execute long-term operations speaks against the so-called interest of the EU in Africa on the sub-regional hotspot at that continent, and does not guarantee a successful accomplishment of the objectives and long-term impact of the mission, giving way for further instability that would emerge more sooner than later. Instability that will jeopardize the interests the EU or its Member States might have there.

The EU and Africa: looking to the future

The EU faces in Africa two important challenges in the light of the new geopolitical equilibrium. Once a continent in which Europe had absolute power, it is now the field of a new geopolitical contest between the United States, China and the EU. And it is also the host for important challenges and issues that can definitely affect the EU, as it was mentioned. The actions made by the EU, although important, reveals huge gaps between them and the objectives and needs that are to be covered: the limited military presence of the EU is one, where France is leading on that regard and with national rather than European interests as a reason; the reactive rather than strategically-planned approach to Africa following the increased Chinese interest on the continent; the apparent lack of attractiveness in economic terms of the EU in Africa; and the lack of measures regarding the emergent problem of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Moreover, the desperate seeking for a negotiated compromise with China about Africa reveals more weaknesses than strengths, mostly because of the unsolvable differences on the economic and security aspects. But also because China is aimed at controlling and securing access to resources and markets fulfilling a strategic need, while the EU seems more to seek a sort of ‘co-existence’ with China, an approach that simply won’t work due to the mentioned reason, along with the fact that China is more interested in pursuing its own national interests. Even worse, the fact that the EU is basing its policies and requirements for aid and business on values is wrong. But even worse is the fact that it has to change them just because of China’s offerings and the calculated appeal to those offerings by some African states simply to make the EU to renounce to values that are embraced within its own principles.

What the EU should then? One of the accurate actions are the approaches it has been doing with the United States in cooperating in areas such as terrorism and investments. Beyond any question, Europe and the United States are, as democratic nations, important partners for the security of the world, from Africa to the Middle East, and from Eastern Europe to the Asia-Pacific. Therefore, their joint co-operation needs to be enhanced, and must not be based on only certain EU Member States but on the EU as a whole, with an increased role for NATO as a channel between the US and the EU and to execute common and/or complementary operations.

This has been implemented since the Berlin + Summit, but the EU simply must adopt a more “hard” security approach and rely less on the mere “soft” power[95]. This alternative poses by itself a challenge given the fact that the EU does not has the same strategic capacities nor the military preparation for executing long-termed operations outside Europe[96]. This means that the EU at some will have to decide whether it prioritize its own immediate defence – namely against a likely Russian aggression in Poland, Scandinavia or the Baltics – over executing humanitarian, peacekeeping operations or simply to increase its presence in some areas of the world where it once had and where.

Given the need for resources and the strategic and security landscape, the EU will have to find a way where it can secure and meet its interests in Africa while safeguarding its own Eastern flank. The problem is, that for the EU such situation implies a strategic overreach. And also test the EU ability to provide a coherent strategy to cope with two re-emerging and assertive powers like Russia and China. And that strategy, is imperative.

Mali and Nigeria

The issues of Mali and Nigeria have one source: terrorism. The scale of such has been so threatening that it prompted the French to intervene in the country through Operation Serval. The reasons behind France’s action are explained by the strong ties in the areas of politics, diplomacy and economy, plus the strategic importance of the country – and the sub-Saharan Africa in general – for France. Those elements gave way to the significant presence of French expatriates in the region, whose security became thus in a priority for France. Operation Serval was then motivated by that aforementioned factor, along with the threat posed by extremist terrorism in Mali, which was moving swiftly toward Malian capital and was jeopardizing the precarious stability of the region (Maj.Gen. Tramond & Lt.Col. Siegneur, 2013).

Mali has shown that “light-foot” strategies are not useful every time, and that boots on the ground might necessary when dealing with enemies of the scale as the extremist terrorists in Mali (Maj.Gen. Tramond & Lt.Col. Siegneur, 2013)[97]. The European Union might consider the mentioned facts and revisit its overlooking on the “soft” power or civilian power, thus adopting more a “hard power” approach for further future operations.

Still, the presence of terrorism still hovers on the region and kidnappings of Western citizens and attacks to Western interests not only in Mali but in the region overall are a potential problem. A problem that is worsened by the region countries’ lack of control over the national territories, lack of border control, and corruption by the Sahel states. The solution could consist not only on enhancing the security and law enforcement institutions of the countries in question (and Mali in particular), but also on fighting corruption, on improving the economic situation of the inhabitants, and on preventing the spread of radical and extremist ideas, and by increasing the people’s confidence in the national institutions. In the end, the aim is to prevent individuals to join such groups by providing more sustainable options (Koepf, 2013).

In the light of the issue posed by terrorism in the Sahel, the EU launched three operations: EUTM Mali, EUCAP Sahel Mali, and EUCAP Sahel Niger. EUTM Mali has the aim of rebuilding the Malian Armed Forces through advisory support, training in military knowledge and human rights. This to achieve a regional stability and security[98]. EUCAP Mali has a similar aim of rebuilding the Malian internal security forces, thus complementing and reinforcing EUTM Mali[99]. EUCAP Sahel Niger, in turn, is aimed at addressing specifically the threat posed by the terrorist group Boko Haram in the neighbouring Nigeria, as well as the presence of organised crime, drug trafficking, arms and human beings[100]. The focus is similar to the previous abovementioned operations: provide advice and training the armed forces, internal security forces and authorities to fight terrorism and organized crime[101].

Nigeria is the second hotspot in the Sahel area and a recent concern for the EU, yet no visible intervention nor by the EU or any Member State has been implemented. The new threat became globally known after the kidnapping of 200 girls in April 2014, but its scale is being now assessed[102]. The EU has to worry about the energetic resources there and Nigeria’s geostrategic location – perhaps with the same importance as Mali in that regard – increases the risk of a spread of instability in the Gulf of Guinea and Central Africa. For instance, Boko Haram seized an entire city in the Northeast of the country and also has killed 22000 thousand people since 2009 (Barna, 2014).

This problem is worsened by the inefficient response by the government, focusing only on a military answer that, in turn, had little respect for human rights and lacks the needed technical skills, as well as worried more in playing politics than in facing terrorism at all. Because of this, civilian vigilantes had emerged (Barna, 2014).

The international community reaction consisted on providing some assistance to Nigeria for locating the kidnapped girls[103]. The EU in turn, has been implementing programmes focusing on infrastructure, social services, rights and rule of law, as well as providing antiterrorist financial packages (Barna, 2014). Yet a strong presence of the international community – and of the EU, especially – is much needed in Nigeria. The situation can derive in a worse case that Mali and can spark an unrest in the central African region, adding more elements of instability in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and even South Sudan, should the spread of the threat is not successfully contained.

A military operation in close cooperation with the US – and in a similar way as Operation Serval – is an option, where perhaps some “boots on the ground” can improve the security of the region, although it might increase the risk of retaliatory attacks inside the EU by terrorist groups, or an increased attack on EU interests in the area. In any case and as Barna (2014) recommends, human rights abuse and corruption must be tackled, intelligence is to be improved and the establishment of intercultural dialogues should be implemented, as well as the improvement of socioeconomic conditions in the country. Those are the elements that a future strategy must contain to tackle the presence of terrorism in Nigeria, Mali, and the Sahel.

The Sequence of Events in Egypt

The ongoing protests allowed for democratic elections to take place barely in January 2012, when a People’s Assembly was entrusted with drafting a new constitution, which was quickly suspended. The first presidential elections took place in May and eventually a new legislature was consensually formed. Gradually the police and the military were granted expanded arrest competencies, whereas the newly elected constitutional court provided for the participation of the runner-up Ahmed Shafik and rendered the 2011 elections invalid. The Supreme Council of the Armed created a temporary parliament and removed the defence and military ministers from the presidential supervision. Thus it secured the impunity of its actions, which were control over the legislature, the president, the budget and war decisions. The ceremonial acceding to power of Morsi thereafter was proclaimed to be the first democratic one in the history of Egypt. The subsequent work on the permanent constitution by the newly formulated parliament was protected by a decree and arose the fears of imposing a Islamic constitution. This triggered a second round of protests against and pro- his rule that lasted up to July 2013.

Sissi’s military played a crucial role in the police raids of August 2013 against the Muslim Brotherhood and the coup of Morsi. He used the power vacuum that appeared by the non-presence of the American forces to legitimize the actions of the military and received wide support both on the domestic scene, as well as by other Arabic countries in the surrounding.  The military under General Fatah el-Sisi undertook a coup d’état against Morsi, whereas the first proclaimed himself the new president. These actions were a follow-up to numerous requests by the Egyptian citizens, who were disillusioned by Morsi’s policy. On numerous occasions escalations between pro-Morsi protesters and the Republican army led to lethal outcomes, but accusations towards the military were widely rebuffed. The zenith was on August 14th when the military raided two camps of Morsi supporters, killing more than 600 civilians and injuring around 4000, widely accused by human rights IOs.

Sisi’s vision was to cater for civil rights based on the Islamic law, a balanced presidential parliamentary system and support for the opposition in Syria. The military convened a referendum, which was voted positively by 98,13% representing 38% of the population. The new constitution[104] proclaimed a system based on Sharia law (Art. 2). It was drafted in severe denunciation of the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups, but granted some rights to minorities (esp. Copts).

Their Economic Residuum

The culpability for the economic plunge is to be borne both by the Brotherhood and Sisi’ military junta as they both became entangled in assets capture. However, their desire to control the resources and the real estate industries and thus uphold Gulf States’ endowments brought trepidation of scrutiny to the active economic elites. The estimations are that military’s economic empire built after the fall of Mubarak in 2011 may constitute up to 40% of the economy[105] has led to the dearth of working places, especially in the upper middle income range, as they were seized by ex-generals. The unstable state apparatus and production volumes led to anaemic growth of 2% that could not offset the 14% budget deficit, 13% unemployment and soaring indebtedness.

 In the spring of 2014 Egypt committed itself to an IMF reform package in exchange for 140$ billion development program and allowing foreign assessment of its economy. Monetary support valued 12$ billion came from the Gulf States and further 20$ billion are expected from Saudi Arabia and UAE. The volumes of Gulf’s support have derailed the IMF’s growth and jobs[106] and EU’s governmental expenditures transparency reform demands, but this footing is unsustainable in the long run[107].  A good deal of these money are expected to be invested in grandeur infrastructure projects, such as new cities, transfiguring the Suez Canal into an industry hub, but could also be balanced with a revision of the state subsidies towards energy and food. Sisi’s idea is to rejuvenate the economy through calls for universal performance, a wage cap as a distributional measure for equalizing income, consolidation of power and bypassing reforms needs.

Palestinian Territories[MHZC1] 

The struggle over the control of the historical territories, widely accepted as the Holy Tomb has marked the strongest divide in the MENA region ever since 1970s. Even though the UN advocated a two-state solution already in 1947 with Resolution 181(II) and wide social strata are predisposed towards the creation of two states, the struggle over the control of Jerusalem has led to the six-day war of 1967 and the 1973 war over the Suez Canal, as well as the two Palestinian Intifadas of 1987 and 2000, being a result of the Israeli presence in Gaza and the West Bank. Both the US advocated Peace Process and the Quartet solutions are seeking a two-state solution, based on the pre-1967 UN-defined borders with a degree of demilitarization and border control. Two main aspects of the encounter have been undermining the international commitments – the Israeli backed-up settlements and the Palestinian reluctance to engage in a bilaterally sought diplomatic solution.

Within the Euro Mediterranean Union both states have signed Association Agreements and Action Plans with the European Union, allowing for including the antithetical relations into a common, yet differentiated framework. In lieu with its multilateral engagements in the Quartet and the UN, the EU’s grand aims are the adoption of a “two-state solution and respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and international law” and concerns over “borders, settlements, refugees, water and security” [108]. The careful consideration of these is the condition for EU’s financial and technical aid to both partners and has led to pejorative halt in the EU-Israel relations  after 2009’ operation cast lead, whereas the Hamas[109]’ victory in the 2006 Legislative Council Elections have led to difficulties in acknowledging it as a recipient of the aid and state-building efforts. Due to the rocket attacks of its military wing, Hamas remains recognized both by the PA and internationally isolated by the Quartet and Israel.

However, the international isolation of and the sanctions towards Hamas, which has been backed up by Iran and Al-Quaeda, did not initiate its collapse and its recognition as a legitimate political force has been seen as a only possible solution, as Hamas has been sensitive to its international image[110]. Owing to Hamas’ ideological ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and economic dependence on Egypt (as well as Qatar and Iran), enabled Morsi to advance its political inclusion and reconcilement with Fatah. This evolution is extremely important in view of the structural divide between progressive and conservative Islamism, which is hindering the inclusion of constructivism and pragmatism in the governance style along MENA.  The EU has a chance to switch to pro-actively enabling pragmatism and moderation in the Islamic governance by the Inclusion of Hamas, as well as thus cut its ties with Iran.

Its reconciliation and democratization efforts through the EIDHR[111] bottom-up projects are pivotal for its presence on the PA, whilst the financial commitment on institution-building, fostering the judiciary, combating corruption and bottom-up initiatives is insufficient.  EU’s election observation missions are also difficult to implement due to Israeli occupation[Y2]  and the Union’s approach is perceived as patronizing[112]. Nevertheless, the EU has been the largest international donor to the Palestine Authority and sectors such as health, education, food security and electricity networks have suffered largely from the substitution of development aid to solely humanitarian assistance.

The decline in military spending in Israel from 6.4% to 5.6% GDP[113] that is intended to shield the country against the aggravating threats from Egypt, Lebanon and Syria can hardly be read as appeasing. One of the most contradictory positions of the Oslo Agreement has been the disavowal of Israeli forces redeployment pursuant to Art. XIII, 2[114]. According to some estimates Israeli subjugation and inhibitions to freedom of movement have resulted in loss of 85% of the PT’s GDP, respectively complete dependence on international aid, which together with the structural problems of corruption, underdevelopment and defective public management could result in new Intifada incidents[115]. Israel’s economic retaliation has taken the form of the complete suspension of trade with, blocking aid to and reducing fuel and electricity towards Gaza has been detrimental to the population and is threatening the dissolution of any remaining statehood. A further detrimental development has been the end of Fayyad’s mandate and a halt in his reassuring efforts for the recognition of a Palestinian state in the US. At the same time Israel’ militarization and subjugation of territories is increasingly legitimate, as is facing a growing threat in the face of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Syrian insurgency. Palestine also represents the frontline of the Arab and Muslim opposition to Israel and has generated strong many boycott campaigns within trade unions and other formats[116].

In the conflict resolution Quartet format (EU, UN, USA and Russia) EU has been playing only a complementary role despite Baroness Ashtons’ diplomatic activity. It can be said that the sought low profile is intended to mould support at a later stage, especially in view of the fact that recognition within the UN format will render EU’s mediation towards consensus void. The condemnation of Israeli subjugation has not been backed up by punitive measures, partly as a result of Germany’s inability to maximize its role as a neutral arbitrator             due to being historically encumbered. On the other hand, EU’s foreign policy formula of the lowest common denominator has been further depreciated by Israeli lobbyism trying to disunite the Member States. Within the region, the spill-over from this stance have meant a waning democratization in the Arab States, a target mostly utilized by Swedish diplomacy and its breakthrough recognition of Palestine. 

The security engagement of EU consists of two missions[117] – the EUPOL COPPS, deployed in 2005 within the CSDP and the EUBAM Rafah, deployed in 2006. To alleviate the difficulties with the provision of a peace solution the EUPOL mission has adopted a two-track approach towards rebuilding the security sector – rebuilding institutions and overcoming the opaqueness and unaccountability through deployment of police forces to provide training, advice and equipment. However, progress towards structural reform has been minor and primarily concentrated on distributing equipment and strengthening the infrastructure and preserving the law and order in the PA. Among its biggest hindrances remains the lack of progress within the approximation of the two legal systems, as well as the provision of an impartial, non-partisan and democratic criminal law reform. The second EUBAM mission, deployed in 2006 was targeted at confidence building after the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory. Through the mission, the EU aimed at increasing its presence as a third party, provide training to the Palestinian border guards and ensure a smooth passing through the Rafah crossing point. However, after the June 2006 kidnapping of the Israeli soldier G. Shalit the situation deteriorated and Israel blocked the passing, which has had serious economic repercussions. Thus, the primal target of the mission was not fulfilled, which can be owed to the lack of political influence on the ground and consequentially the mission’s being subjected to cooperation-readiness from local actors.

While on the improvements in citizen’s security and the opening of the Rafah border are facts, EU still has a long way to go in terms of achieving a sense of ownership of the missions by the PA and increasing their legitimacy through the inclusion of their mandate in the legal system. It is highly important that EU achieves a stable float through consistent and durable border arrangements in Gaza and lifting of the Israeli blockades. The equal treatment of both sides remains imperative, especially in views of Israeli exports from the occupied territories that could be subjected to the rule of origin principle and excluded from the free trade arrangements within the upgraded association relationship with Israel. This is also important in view of achieving unity in the PA, as Hamas has already shown signs of internal readjustments. Its rapprochement, albeit not corresponding to the Quartet principles and EU’s rational engagement with democratic actors is a plausible risk, especially bearing in mind Fatah’s disproportionate weakness.

The Arab Spring

By the time the Arab spring was triggered in 2011 the EU was already facing a waning presence on the ground. Before the EEAS came into existence its approach has been predominantly instruments-based, as shown by the SPRING programme[118], aimed at institution-building and capacity-building through Twinning and the Civil Society Facility and the European Endowment for Democracy, which targets non-state actors[119]. These events marked the shift from policy formulation initiatives, such as the EMP, to reactive responses, partially owing to the inability of the EEAS to devise a more coordinated and comprehensive approach[120].

The Arab spring has been a result of accumulating tensions against the incumbents’ covets for power and the detrimental lack of political freedoms, soaring inflation, unemployment, corruption and disregard for human rights. The wave was triggered by the Tunisian protests in December 2010 that ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and continued towards Egypt. From a socio-historical perspective it was the result from the reproduction of western values of freedom and post-colonial distrust, self-governance and individualism that were amplified up by wide use of social media. The popular Egyptian sentiment was that the country had become a scene for struggle of influence-seeking external actors, whose governance solutions were insufficiently adapted. The complete absence of a functional rule of law system paved the way towards authoritative regimes in many states in the region.

While the Tunisian revolution brought about certain freedoms, a change in the constitutional order, as well as its first democratically elected permanent parliament, in Egypt after the 2011 revolution the Muslim brotherhood appeared as a strong alternative to Mubarak’s regime. Since it has been a religion-centered structure with anti-Semitic and Islamic convictions its envisioned a society of Islamic values and traits. Auxiliary to this proclivity it gradually immersed itself in social activities and instigated populism into its rhetoric as a means to expand the mass of supporters. However, during the Revolution the Brotherhood retained a passive role and concentrated on subduing other political actors. By virtue of these inclinations its revolt has been viewed as an Islamic coup.


The sectarian group Islamic State in Syria and Levant /from 2013 al-Sham/, currently the Islamic State is a Sunni insurgent group stemming from Al-Qaeda. It is a self-proclaimed caliphate with a desire to spread Shariah and gain religious authority over the Muslim world.  Over accusations of discrimination against Sunnis in Iraq, the group began augmenting there too.

Its revival began with the eruption of civic unrest against the rule of Bashar Al-Assad. Albeit a secular president, he was well-trained for the post but kept a staunch position against Israel, USA and a milder one against Syria. However, he was strongly criticized by the latter for training and arming Jihadist, who were expected then to serve the government’s foreign policy line. After the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, he was again accused of nurturing Al-Nusra and Isis through buying oil from them. His main counterpart was the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, financially and military provisioned by the West and the Arab Gulf. The Syrian Muslim government succeeded in toppling Assad’s regime, after he lost his Alawite’s support, but the power vacuum that was created was overtaken by ISIS. It is said that the insurgency has been a way to cut off Russian influence[121], as it has been a supporter of the regime.

Its rebels headed towards the cities of Mosul, Baiji, Tikrit, Samara, Jalula and Saadiyah and then the capital. Currently ranging from the border of Jordan, to the cities of Mosul, Arbil, ThazKhurma, Tikrit, Baji, Fallujah, Samara to the North-West, as well as small territories to the south of the capital Baghdad, as well as most of the territories to the North-West of Al Tabgah (and the city of Al-Salamiyah) in Syria.

The Kurds have utilized the situation and have gained control over Kirkuk, after the incumbent President asked them to intervene. There new tensions might emerge with the Shiite militia, as their religious centres fall under fire. On the other hand frustration with the Sunni and the current Maliki government has evicted wide support from local tribes. The other major group, the Sunni, is dissatisfied with the power shift towards Shi’a and the secularism of the government. It began after the fall of Saddam Hussein, who albeit criticized for his despotic lead, has been acclaimed for devising an unprecedented social program in the Middle East aimed at full literacy of the population, diversification of the oil-powered economy, building infrastructure and implementing a land reform. Sunni’s sensitivity to the situation is conditioned by other regional actors, such as Iran, while the Kurdish question would certainly need the involvement of Turkey. Namely here lies EU’s option for moulding a tripartite negotiation.

A line of simply sending out weapons to specific groups has already proven its liability to failure in neighbouring Syria, where the sponsorship of the intifada with weapons, gradually led to theirs falling into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. Currently the situation is similarly overlapping, as the eradication the advancing 12-20,000 units strong insurgency that is congregating local population would need more intelligence and strategic use of drones than weapons delivery. Nevertheless in August 2014 Germany and Australia decided to send out military supplies and aircrafts to the Peshmerga. Whether a weapons rather than troops based strategy could be successful has been widely doubted. While the deliveries will be officially given to the Iraqi government, they do not have any functional forces in the regions, where Peshmerga are. As before, the danger of these weapons being overtaken by the insurgency on the battlefield is enormous.

Kurdistan is becoming a preferred aim for the thousands of displaced and refugees, regardless of their religion. Countries are sending weapons to the Kurds in a hope to alleviate their state-building efforts. However, the Kurds will also need financial means. For that to happen free export from Kirkuk, subject to Iraq’s and US’s approval, is needed. However, ISIS advanced already to the north of Iraq and is controlling fuel extraction sites in Mosul and Kirkuk, which are later processed in Syria and sold to the black market in the south of Turkey, with estimations hiking up to a 2$ million / day, to which financial support from the Gulf, mainly Saudi, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, is added. This strictly removes the possibility for economic sanctions to the area.

Most recently the IS has advanced all the way to the city of Kobane that lies in the northern autonomic area of Kurdistan and directly on the border with the NATO member Turkey. The Turkish parliament has decided in the beginning of October that it will allow an assault on the troops there, but the possibility for deployment of troops will remain low until a strong enough coalition builds up. The odds are that  the under Pentagon’s leadership Turkey and the Gulf states will continue with air strikes, until the deployment of tactical ground missions becomes possible. Turkey has often been accused of not only using the existing confrontation to enervate the Kurdish fighters, instead of directly infiltrating with armoured vehicles, but also of financing the Islamic State. As a supporter of the idea to create a Sunni-dominated region it has no interest in preserving the Kurds’ and Alewites’ security[122]. Even though it has already the approval of the Parliament, Turkey is reluctant to intervene as a follow-up of US initiated policy, since this will undermine its influence in the region.

The advance of ISIS in Egypt has led to the displacement of 10000 people in Sinai and raids within the greater Cairo area. Egypt plays a central role in the projected Caliphate, has brought up the al Quada leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, has ISIS sympathizers within the ranks of the army, as well as 5000 fighters under the radical’s flag[123]. Iran’s bombing has showed that it has a stake in the conflict, as it is becoming surrounded by anti-Shia Sentiments. Thus EU’ is facing a number of questions that are intertwined and need to be addressed. On the whole ISIS’ activities have led to two evident patterns – of centrifugal balkanization in Syria as a projection of numerous problems such as Alawites’ support to Assad, the Kurdish question, underrepresentation of Shia (as in Bahrein) and the rising Sunni extremism, as well as of a boost to other extremist groups as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Sharia in Lybia.

Yemen – immunity or impunity?

After the ousting of former president Saleh in the spring of 2011, which followed a 30 years of oppression and lawlessness, which came at the price of 2000 casualties and 22 000 wounded[124], a US and Saudi-backed and Gulf Cooperation Council[125] brokered deal opted for a regime renovation rather than a genuine change. It is a result of Saudi’s power interests in Yemen and failed to hoist a notion of immunity by granting impunity to Saleh’s numerous human rights violations in the last 30 years.  The lack of transitional justice, institutional reforms and the questionable legitimacy of the persistent federal solution[126] were authorized through broad support the secessionist actions by the Houthi insurgency and the Hiraak separatist efforts. Even if in September 2014 the Houthis, affiliated to Iran, conquered Sanaa and ended the Saudi order in Yemen, their pragmatism alongside the Shia-Sunni divide and against the Muslim Brotherhood could mean a new potential for cooperation with Saudi. Thus the Houthis increased their role in the Peace and National Partnership Agreement that was brokered on 21st of September 2014. Even if being substantial breakthrough in terms of transparency and inclusivity, it failed to rectify their above-selective commitment and will hardly lead to the reconciliation of both political parties and partisan movements[127]

Libya’s disintegrating security sector

The military vs. religion antipode in Libya is exemplary in its simultaneity. The two existing camps – Dignity (military, federalists and eastern Zintan tribes, backed up by Egypt and UAE) and Dawn (Islamists and Misrata armed groups and the Shield forces, backed up by Sudan, Qatar and Turkey), which both claim their legitimate right to govern. Their story began after Qaddafi‘s fall, as Libya’s Transition Council failed to project its power and instead acted as an incubator of armed groups. Its payroll subsidies meant to subdue ethnic and other clashes, but evolved into politicization, selfdom and hybrid arrangements between formal, patronage and local forces[128].

Formal organizational power of Qaqa Zintani Brigade, the Misratan counterpart in Tripoli, withholds its affiliations with the underworld. East Islamist that refuse incorporation into the formal security sector. This has also been the reason for the emergence of the Shield force, controlled by the chief of the army, but maintaining distrust and hostilities with them. It has turned into a shadow centrifugal core of well-paid commanders of local armed groups, thus failing the idea of becoming a reserve force composed of regularly trained individuals who superintend weapons’ stockpiles that have been handed over voluntarily. The Supreme Security Committee[129] members, albeit dismissed or mingled with the police, continue showcasing a centre-local competition for command. The formal forces remain poorly equipped and have lost control over security infrastructure and arms storage sites.

The equality in the relative weakness, instances of disloyalty, partisanship and fragmentation, as well as the politicization tendencies have given way to Supreme Revolutionaries’ Council. The ethnically diverse conglomerate tasked with the cleansing of Qaddafi’s entrenched legacy has been gaining strength. However, the formalization of the security sector has reached a halt due to its effective malfunction inter alia due to seized administration and thus lack of formal coordination and staffing. This factor has proven calamitous also for EU’s 110-men-strong border assistance mission[130].

The EU and the US

Regarding multilateralism and cooperation, the EU seeks the cooperation of the US in shaping a peaceful and secure Africa (Lirong, 2011)[131]. Here is where the US comes into the scene. Cooperation between the EU and the US has two main pillars: security and economy, where security has a special accent on crisis management[132].

On the first pillar, actions have materialized in a joint support of the African crisis management capacities, the execution – and often, support – of operations carried out by both actors (or as if has been the case, the US and France at the Sahel), joint training mission like the one in Somalia, and also the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, with a possible similar operation in the Gulf of Guinea (Domisiewicz & Gross, 2014; Balthasar & Barrios, 2014).

The second pillar is being materialized by the aforementioned shift from aid to trade by both the EU and the US. Economic partnerships and trade relations are the main focuses of the EU and the US on Africa. For instance, trade between Africa and the US has been of €48 billion per year and between 2004 and 2013, while US imports were, by 2013, of €25.7 billion. In the case of the EU, had an average of €137 billion of imports by the same period, while EU imports were, by 2013, of €152 billion (Balthasar & Barrios, 2014).

Conclusions and Recommendations

The MENA region has been marked by turmoil and numerous divides in recent times and is presenting many security challenges to the EU. The waking of the population in 2011 created the implosion of the military vs. religion antagonism that added up to the already existing Shia-Sunni divides. They are underlying the establishment of democratic governance along the Southern Neighbourhood that can serve the needs of the people and be a pragmatic actor in the negotiations. Regardless of these issues, EU’s diplomatic efforts were crowned with the EP’s principal recognition of Palestine and the breakthrough with Iran, which have shown both individualism and a desire for a strengthened presence in the region. Nevertheless, improvement of communication and coordination with US’ initiatives remain vital for the elimination of the policy “protrusion” effect. In terms of cooperation with NATO, EU’s missions should receive clear and wider mandates, whilst inclusivity is complemented with ownership. The revision of the engagement style post-2014 and the adoption of a purposeful leadership should be aimed at seeking various alternative solutions.

In Palestine and Israel EU’ should call for a complete demobilization and disarmament of both sides and the respect for the integrity of the established borders. While the presence and the notability of the EU Special Representative on the Middle East Process should be strengthened, wide conflict solutions that can increase local ownership and legitimacy on the ground should be sought, such as the expansion of the EUBAM Rafah and EUPOL COPPS mandates to control disruptions in the security on both sides of the conflict. Although unbinding, the protracted political statement for the principal recognition of the Palestinian statehood in the EP is the most logical sequel to billions of investments in a two-state solution.[133]

When we speak of Iran EU should engage in a scrutiny of the possible clandestine developments of nuclear installations hidden under the formula of „civilian usage” through integration of EU experts in the facilities. In order to fill the future vacuum that will appear following USA’s diplomatic withdrawal the EU should focus on establishing permanent presence through EEAS and trade delegations in the region. The reinvigoration of investment climate and the R&D in development of gas reserves and renewable energy remain the only feasible diversification alternatives. As a powerful Shiite counterpart, Iran’s presence on the table could provide new dynamics in view of solving regional security challenges in Syria and Afghanistan[134]. The EU should thus reassess the possibility of including Turkey in different formats as an ally due to the deterioration with Russia, which has formerly been EU’s main backing in the non-proliferation talks and reengage US into other policy priorities, such as human rights. Iran’s support for the Assad regime in Syria, as another side of the religious equation for confessional leadership with Saudi means that efforts towards the recognition of the Shia minorities in Saudi should be initiated.

As of Egypt the EU needs to carefully assess the role of Sisi’s junta and gradually compel him into following the EU Action plans. The wide intervention in the Egyptian economy by international organizations to set coherent and convergent aims is a great chance for gaining leverage on EU’s priorities in the country. But EU needs to cautiously approach the new regime towards respect of human rights standards and provision of appropriate civic rights in order not to be disbanded as an actor in the early phase, especially in view of the negative appreciation of EU’s statements during the 27th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The new Egyptian authorities could play an important role as a secular actor in the fight against ISIS and their involvement should be reassessed, especially in view of Turkey’s reluctance to intervene. The EU should be carefull not to legitimize the new regime, but rather to thrust economic transformation in Egypt, reform of state aid principles[135], as well as budget scrutiny.

In Libya the security sector continues to be in serious need of hierarchy rectification, quelling of antagonisms, discussion formats, demilitarization of informal groupings and ultimately – consolidation. The fluidity and hybridism of the malaise necessitates a careful approach towards stabilization, broad ownership and deployment of a stabilization forces in view of a potential transition to formalized security architecture. At a later stage, the rapprochement of both missions with the help of local actors that can provide leverage should be maintained both with diplomatic and coercive measures. The lessons from Yemen, where compliance with negotiated positions has become an issue due to a vortex of interests, should also be taken into consideration in the relations with both countries. Specifically for Yemen, EU’s efforts should concentrate on shaping a notion of transitional justice and conformity to rule of law by a wide-reaching program for training of officials and mediation towards a technocratic governmental solution and balancing of the buffed up presidential powers. EU should also begin revisiting the stasis in Morocco and attempt the outbreak of similar Secularism vs. Islamism antagonism following Nidaa Tounes’s post-parliamentary secular quest.

Vis-à-vis ISIS EU should be very careful when siding with the existing counter-terrorism rhetoric of the United States and complement it with political measures and intelligence. It should be noted that a cautious commitment to Maliki’s regime, as a tectonic change in the Shi’a vs. Sunni balance would not automatically mean decline of the tensions. The representation of both religious groups should be pursued through inclusive governance approaches or a strengthened federalization, so as to ensure their representation. The whole arms strategy of the EU should be thought over, as both Germany and USA are withholding an infantry intervention. The possibility of creating a 1500-strong “Battle Group”, composed of several member states should not be waved out. EU should pursuit to increase the international pressure for closure of the Black Oil Markets in southern Turkey, as they are directly financing the Islamic insurgency. Re-engagement and siding Saudi and Yemen, who have previously supported the war on terror remains widely possible. The EU should rethink the role of Saudi and Iran as valuable partners, when handling the fragile balance between the Sunni and Shi’a in Syria, as for long they have kept a similar foreign policy stance of Russian restraint due to overlapping strategic and economic considerations.

When speaking of energy, EU’s should focus on Iran’s non interference in other conflicts through selling arms, as they could easily fall in the hands of insurgency or Islamic battle groups. Libya’s fragility could become alarming vis-à-vis the functionality of the existing pipelines and Turkey’s future leverage in setting gas prices from the future southern corridor. The creation an Energy Hub on the territory of Turkey and its bordering with the ISIS means that EU will have to quintessentially upgrade its relations with Erdogans’ rising autocratic presidency. Nevertheless, EU CFSP agenda is built on the foundations of human rights and democracy building and this essentially ethical focus should not be waived away. Even if Turkey has lost interest in acceding to EU, the opening of new negotiation chapters could become EU’s sole instrument for arranging concessions. The improvement of the attractiveness of the investment climate in sustainable energy in the future is important both in view of the countries’ macroenomic performance and internal stability and should be included in existing dialogues and action plans.

In view of its institutional arrangements, the EU is currently facing a reality, where the peaceful Neighbourhood Policy instrumentarium has become simply obsolete, notwithstanding its recent revision. Practically this means that Mogherini will have to utilize and maximize Italy’s adjacency to the region and revitalize the Mediterranean and Middle East Partnership, taking account of the manifold dependencies on its actions in view of Russian and Atlantic interest in the region. Therefore the EU member states should continue pooling their assets and aspirations in view of facing the sidelining competitiveness of global actors in the region. The erosion of overarching solutions to security should be complemented with the increase the stakeholders upholding the conflicts and those remaining in international isolation. On the other hand, the downfall of EU leverage on conditioning its humanitarian and financial support to structural reforms should be revamped by the consistent increase in like-minded non-state operators, which can inter alia, work towards the demilitarization of the region.

The EU and Asia

Asia is recognized by the EU as a region with steadily increased importance. Its rising economic activity is beneficial for the EU’s economic growth; the region is a fast growing-export market with a quarter of EU exports sold there, the region is a fast-grow export market, and its home to some of the fastest-growing economies[136]. Additionally, the EU has interests in trade, finance, energy, politics, human rights and security in East Asia, all related to each other, making the EU to seek for cooperation with Asian countries (EEAS, n.a.).

The EU has as main objectives in Asia: first, to establish the EU as a credible player in political and security issues through demonstration of expertise and working with key allies; second, to support the region in managing security challenges by supporting the building of a security architecture[137]; third, working with the region on shared regional and security issues; fourth, promotion of sustained development aimed at meeting global challenges related to security[138]; and fifth, protecting the economic and trade interests of the EU and its Member States, and the security of citizens as well. It also worth noting that the activities of the EU in the region are guided by a comprehensive approach in security. This approach relies on defence, diplomacy, and development (EEAS, n.a.).

In a more detailed look at economics, the EU has important economic interests in East Asia. 28% of the EU’s global trade in goods and services is in East Asia, while its trade with East Asia accounts for 27.9% of the EU’s total trade. China is the second trading partner accounting a 13.9% of its total trade, also representing the EU’s largest bilateral deficit[139]. ASEAN and Japan accounts a 5.2% and a 3.8%, respectively (Council of the European Union, 2012)[140].

Between 2006 and 2009 EU investments in East Asia were around 7.7% out of EU’S total outward investments. Investments from East Asia to the EU were a 6.9% out of total inward investments in the EU. However, Free Trade Agreements (FTA) signed among East Asian Countries, and the joining of the US to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) can potentially affect the commercial interests of the EU by decreasing the share of the market (Council of the European Union, 2012)[141].

In regards to security, the picture is far less positive. This is a problem for the EU, since it recognizes the importance of a stable East Asia for the region (and its own) economic growth. The North Korean nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes, the underlying tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and the territorial claims in the South China Sea – affecting navigation and commerce, as well as EU trade and investments – are the three main issues that concern the EU. But there are other elements, such as increasing nationalism, the competence for resources following increased energetic demand, and the shifting of the regional strategic balance following the Chinese rise, that pose risks of sparking a conflict in a future (Council of the European Union, 2012)[142].

Pivot to Asia

Otto von Bismarck once said that man does not create nor direct what he denominated the ‘stream of times’. That man could only try to travel through that stream while trying to avoid a disaster, making use of amount experience and skills to do so (as cited in Pflanze, 1958, p. 496). The EU seems now steering in a stream that it cannot create nor direct by its own, and has to navigate through it while trying not to sink in the process. That “stream of times” are the shifting of the global centre of gravity towards Asia. A shift that is opening the way to new leading emergent nations in both economy and international politics like China.

The EU has a lot of challenges and vacuums to fill in the East and South East Asia. It is clear that, given the economic and security dynamics, both sub-regions are connected and pose a serious issue to the EU interests in both dimensions. Needless to say, the EU is also facing a challenge on how to accommodate itself to the Asian Century or the geopolitical gravity centre shifting, and how to transform into an influential international actor.

Those challenges are not only created by the same structural circumstances of the mentioned sub-regions, but also by the same approaches the EU has overall. First is the problematic “business only” approach with China and other states in the region, which can benefit the EU at a certain point, but the same approach can harm EU’s interests. Given the fact that the same approach is being implemented by some Member States regarding arms sales, it is quite hard not to imagine how China would make use of those assets in a potential war with Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan or Taiwan[143].

Second, the territorial claims and conflicts in the South China and East China Sea complicates the picture for the EU. It does not have the same capacity to influence the behaviour of the actors in the region as the US of China, and its ‘soft power’ is simply useless. Even its own approach and efforts to the ASEAN are being hampered by the Chinese actions within that organization, aimed at dividing the members for the sake of its own strategic interests[144]. As a result, a declaration on the tensions at South China Sea did not prospered when the Philippines came with that proposal (Casarini, 2012).

Should the EU make a ‘pivot to Asia’ of its own in order to play a more active and influential role to meet its interests? For Kamp (2014) the answer is yes, but under a NATO flag rather than an EU flag, and in strong cooperation with the US. France and Britain, for instance, could make use of their presence in the area and Germany could take advantage of the large number of its citizens in China. In the same way, those nations could approach the ASEAN and other key states under the same NATO flag, opening by this way clear military presence and creating a space that the EU could use to become more influential in East Asia.

Complementing the aforementioned ideas, the EU – under NATO flag – could negotiate the establishment of naval and air bases in territories of ASEAN countries as a complement to the US presence and as a way to strengthen the position of the EU in the region.

But there are three main problems to these options: First, the reaction of China to such moves would strain the important commercial ties between the EU and China, ties of which apparently the EU depends in a great extent. The problem is that even without such a move made by the EU, China is supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and seizure of the Crimean peninsula thus acting against the EU[145]. Should the EU increase its presence in South East Asia, China can further deepen its support to Russian expansionism in Eastern Europe. Second, the current events at Eastern Europe would complicate the execution of such a move, even under NATO flag, simply because of the threat that Russia is posing in the immediate EU eastern neighbourhood[146]. Third, that even without the crisis at Ukraine, the EU lacks both the financial and material (i.e. military hardware) assets to increase its strategic projection in the region and to sustain it.

Beyond any doubt, the EU needs to implement a ‘pivot’ of its own if it wants to become a relevant actor in the area. It also needs to reformulate some policies, like the ‘One China Policy’ and the weapons sales by individual Member States, not to mention that it should evaluate its “business only” approach. But the distance between wishes and capacities is becoming wider and the Ukraine-Russia factor is breaking the few possibilities the EU has to be actively involved in South East and East Asia[147]. It is also slowing the pace the EU can accommodate itself to the re-balancing of power.

If the EU really wants to become a strong voice in the international arena, it will have to reformulate many of its own policies and discard its ‘passive-neutralist’ attitude towards the region. This means also that it will have to choose between the US – and its Asian allies, Taiwan included – or the trade with a China that can potentially spark a conflict that could endanger the trade the EU has in high esteem. This also means to contemplate the idea of adding a military presence to its already established economic presence. But for the moment, it has to fix its problems in the more immediate East rather than the Far East.

China and the EU

Africa is increasingly becoming an important continent for China, mainly due to the resources Chinese economy needs for its growth[148]. This need comes especially form Chinese industries, thus explaining the focus of China on Africa. For instance, Africa’s 80% of imports are raw materials, while China is Africa’s first business partner. As a result a market of more than $166 billion exists between China and Africa (The Economist, 2013)[149].

China is focusing on countries rich in resources such as Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Zambia, Ethiopia and Congo. And the reception of Chinese presence has shifted from negative to positive, where china is being perceived as a jobs creation factor and a source of money. Moreover, China’s presence has not provoked any conflict – yet – and it even tried to keep peace in Sudan and South Sudan, countries that are important Chinese trade partners (The Economist, 2013)[150].

This situation moved the EU to pay more attention to Africa, and proposed a trilateral approach between the same African nations, China and the EU, without significant results. The two main areas of clashes, that might explain the lack of advances, are the ideas of China and the EU on regards to aid and security. For China, aid should be free of any condition, while for the EU aids are always connected – and conditioned – by its fundamental principles[151]. In turn, for China security base its actions on the “non-interference principle”, while the EU base its action on promoting its core values and principles (Lirong, 2011).

In detail, the difference regarding aid lies in the principle of good governance, where China understands it as domestic stability and sovereignty. The EU, on the contrary, understands it as a government which is democratic, transparent, and efficient. In any case, the Chinese perspective on good governance has attracted the interest of African nations, pushing the EU to change the approach from aid to business (thus explaining the aforementioned shifting of focus on trade and business instead of aid) and to decrease the conditions or requirements for providing aid (Lirong, 2011)[152]. Additionally, some African nations are using favouring the Chinese approach just to grab the EU attention, and to effectively focus more on business while decreasing or dropping out the concerns on good government, human rights and democracy (Barrios & Vines, 2014).

Regarding security, both China and the EU shares a common view about the importance of peace and security for Africa’s growth. However, the points of divergence are the active interventions and focusing on human security as well as Africa’s security as a global public good by the EU, versus the avoiding of any intervention – by any nation or even international organization –, the rejection of a change of regime by external forces, and the security of Africa as national or regional public good by China (Lirong, 2011).

Beyond any doubt, Chinese actions in Africa affect the interests of the EU and basically wages a competition against the EU. Trade is one of the affected within this competitive scenario, but not the only one. Neither is the sole source of competition between the EU and China: The seeking for oil by both (China to acquire resources from various sources, the EU as a result of a diversification strategy) by explains such clash and it is an issue by itself. The EU, for instance, has oil as main export product from Africa with 97 million tonnes by 2011, being Nigeria the main source with 31 million tonnes and followed by Algeria and Libya with 15 million tonnes each, and Angola with 10 million tonnes (Eurostat, 2012).

The Chinese way of investments in the continent is also another issue, since Chine implements a strategy of diversification. That strategy includes infrastructure and energy exploration sectors, which the EU is aiming to as well. To worsen things, China has also bribed local governments just to secure contracts and business, undermining other competitors as well as good governance (Lirong, 2011).

One last element is that China is reluctant to implement a multilateral approach – undermining more the EU proposal for a tripartite approach – and more keen to have a bilateral approach in order to make problems less complicated (Lirong, 2011). This also means that China is less willing to hear different voices and to work in cooperation with other international actors, providing it more room to assert its interest.

China and Taiwan

In regards to the issues stated above, China the main concern but – paradoxically – it is also the most important trade partner and economic issue for the EU.

The EU and China established relations in 1976. But it is only over the last 10 years that China begun to matter for the EU as a trade partner. For example, by 2004 trade with China was worth of €125 billion in imports, and €50 billion in exports; by 2013 trade with China was worth of nearly €280 billion. From the Chinese side, by 2013 the EU meant a trade of 165 billion € in imports and a trade of €261 billion in exports[153]. The total value of the EU in trade for China was €426 billion[154]. In turn, by 2012 the foreign direct investment (FDI) in China was of €10. 166 million, while China had an FDI in the EU of €8.893 million (EEAS, n.a.; European Commission, 2014)[155]

However, this positive picture is not free from black spots. 64% of all faked goods seized at EU borders came from China. EU services companies face difficulties on accessing Chinese market: red tape, long procedures, the inability of foreign firms to employ Chinese lawyers and to take bar exams for getting Chinese qualifications are the main reasons. Lack of transparency, unfair implementation of public awards, and unsatisfactory appeals procedures[156]. Additionally, China implements hard standards foreign competitors must meet and applies restriction on rare materials exports (a source for high tensions among both partners). Additionally, there is a lack of fair competing field for foreign companies, subsidies and financing, along with problems of transparency and predictability in government and rulemaking[157].

The visit made by the Chinese president to Brussels in November 2013 was aimed at strengthening commercial ties between China and the EU, as well as to treat some political issues. It also served to provide an initial solution to the problems in regards to economics. As a result of his visit and the meeting held, an agenda for cooperation and bilateral agreement was established, agreement that could be followed by a FTA agreement[158]. Separate deals were also closed by China with the United Kingdom, Germany, and France (Casarini, 2014).

On the security and political side the story is less positive. In regards to China the EU has three security aims: first, to strengthen security interaction in terms of military exchanges, strategic dialogues, global security issues, and stability in developing regions[159]; second, to stimulate the liberalization of the political system, and adjustment of policies regarding military transparency and South China Sea by China; and third, to support regional security mechanisms in East Asia. Under these aims there is a strong cooperation between China and the EU – operation Atalanta – on the fighting against piracy in the Gulf of Aden, as well as dialogues and military exchanges between China and EU Member States. These actions that can help in improving relations on the military and political page between the EU and China (Van der Putten, 2013).

But there are important obstacles. The first is the fact that the EU, after all, is not a relevant security actor in East Asia – and despite the presence of French and British assets in the nearby. It is unable to modify the Chinese policies on the area. The second is the fact that the US has a more influential role in the EU via NATO members and had requested the EU to cooperate in security at the area. This might harm the commercial interests the EU has with China. The third – which will be treated in detail – is the issue of the arms embargo, existing since 1989 and after the Tiananmen Square events. While China asked the EU to lift the embargo, the US (and Japan) is pressing the EU to not do so (Men, 2008; Shaosheng, n.a.; Van der Putten, 2013).

The arms embargo issue is where things get complicated for the EU and its “business only” approach, as well as its interests on securing stability in East Asia.

As a start, the EU does not have the same negative perception than the US has about the Chinese military build-up. Mainly because the EU does not feel directly threatened by such modernization nor it has important military compromises, like the US, and strategic interests – besides trade – in the region; it simply neutral[160]. This might explain why, despite the existence of the arms embargo, some EU Member States are providing China if not with military hardware, at least some sensible components. Arms exports from EU Member States to China was in 2012 of €173.9 million. These included French-designed helicopters, engines of German and French origins powering most of Chinese naval assets, naval components of Dutch and French origins, surface to air missiles of French origins and smooth-bore guns from the UK (Lague, 2013; Hancock, 2014)[161].

Those actions – taken unilaterally by EU Member States and for sure made under the “business only” approach – can only contribute to increase the problems the EU is aiming to avoid, thus contradicting its strategic and commercial interests and its quest for a stable East Asia. First, it has been acknowledged that some of the naval assets powered with German and French engines have been involved in the recent assertive actions in the South China Sea by the Chinese Navy (Hancock & AFP, 2014). And second, these same assets and weaponry might be used against Taiwan, the second area where tensions can erupt in East Asia (Weitz, 2012).

Put simply: EU Member States are contributing to the dangerous tensions by supplying China with some equipment that might be used against any ASEAN country – Vietnam or the Philippines – or even Taiwan and Japan. And by doing so they are jeopardizing the economic growth deemed of vital importance to the EU.

Additionally, some US technology could end in Chinese hands since many European assets has some US input thus allowing China to access important military technology and increasing its strategic-military power, as well as the possibilities of China to threaten countries which is having territorial problems. Should a conflict take place, the US would be involved and facing Chinese forces equipped with European assets with some US technological inputs. NATO allies, in turn, would become involved under the request by the US to isolate China (Van der Putten, 2013). And through NATO countries, the EU might become involved and face the dilemma of supporting its commercial partner with neutrality or, instead, support its security partner of the last 70 years with more assertive actions.

Regarding Taiwan, the “One China Policy”, despite reflecting the desire of the EU for a peaceful resolution for the Taiwan issue, simply acts against the independence and sovereignty of Taiwan by supplying China with some military assets while neglecting Taiwan to acquire the needed assets to defend against a possible Chinese aggression. Such assets could be provided by the EU or its Member States and would be beneficial commercially speaking in a similar way China is for the EU. But the “neutrality” of the EU on the matter is once again contradicted by the supply of military assets to China, which is not hesitating on executing assertive actions and who ultimately aims at annexing Taiwan.

Besides the “One China Policy”, the only other relations with Taiwan are strictly commercial. For the Island-state, the EU is its 4th larger trade partner. Also, in 2013 Imports from the EU to Taiwan had a value of €23 billion, exports values were of €16 billion while FDIs had a value of €2.0 million in inward stocks, and of €7.4 million in outward stocks (European Commission, 2014).

Japan, South Korea and North Korea

While China present a complicated picture, Japan is less problematic for the EU and its interests. The contrary can be said of the relations – and issues – with North Korea and South Korea given their acknowledged status[162].

Japan is an important trade partner for the EU – the second one – although it benefits more than the EU. Even since 1979 the European Commission has been encouraging European firms to penetrate the Japanese market and providing assistance just to help them in doing so. By 2013, imports had a value of €55 billion and exports had a value of €53 billion, while FDIs had a value of €161.5 billion of inward stocks and of €98.8 billion of outward stocks[163].

Framing the relations, the EU Action Plan of 2001 set as main objectives in the EU-Japan relations: first, the promotion of peace and security; second, the strengthening of economic and trade exchanges; third, coping with global and societal challenges; and fourth, the bringing together people and cultures (EEAS, 2001).

Since then, the EU and Japan have concluded four agreements: the EU-Japan Mutual Recognition Agreement, the Agreement on Co-operation on Anti-competitive Actions, the science and technology agreement, and the Agreement on Co-operation and Mutual Administrative Assistance. An FTA is pending to be signed, sanctioned and implemented by both nations (European Commission, 2014).

On the security and political side, Japan and the EU are cooperating in sensible areas such as the Gulf of Aden, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Africa. However the Japanese have felt the strategic absence of the EU in the area, perceiving that it is more focused on its inner issues and its neighbourhood, while the EU perceives Japan as closer to the US in foreign policy and security than the EU, despite their shared common interests for a stable region with a great economic dynamism. Additionally, security concerns are addressed by Tokyo through – and directly by – the European capitals (Tsuruoka, 2013)[164].

South Korea and North Korea are both an issue that are to be approached together despite their diverse political systems. The knots that tie both are the inter-Korean dialogues and also the threats posed by the North Korean nuclear and missiles programs to the Southern-trade partner, as well as to Japan and the region in general[165]. Also, the importance given to the EU on WMD proliferation pushed the EU to pay special attention to these two countries (Council of the European Union, 2012).

South Korea also contributed to stabilization in Afghanistan, peacekeeping operations in Lebanon and anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden[166]. Regarding North Korea, an additional issues besides the aforementioned, is the problem of human rights violations by North Korean authorities and the role of China in this problem. That situation led to the implementation of sanctions and some resolutions regarding North Korean refugees by the EU[167].

A High-Level political Dialogue has been implemented since 2011 following the EU perception of threats to its economic interests should a conflict erupts. On the same level, an agreement was reached between the EU and South Korea for the latter’s participation in EU crisis management operations, while the EU was able to contribute to contribute to stabilization of the region, based on its expertise in doing so (Casarini, 2014).

On the economic aspect, South Korea and the EU settled and FTA on 2011, making the country the 10th main trade partner for the EU. By 2013 trade values were of €36 billion in imports, and of €40 billion in exports. FDIs had a value of €18.5 billion on inward stocks and of €39.5 billion on outward stocks[168].


The EU is not only engaged with China-Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. The ASEAN is also another important element in the relations – and presence – of the EU in East Asia. Two factors explain the importance of the ASEAN: first, the fact that ASEAN countries are within the same economically dynamic region and that the ASEAN is the fifth largest trading partner for the EU; second, the fact that the rise of China – and its assertive actions – are going to be clearly felt there. As a matter of fact, they are already being felt with the territorial claims made by most of ASEAN countries and China in the South China Sea (European Commission, 2014; Khandekar, 2014).

This means that ASEAN matters for the regional and global security, and an event there could also jeopardize the economic interests of Europe[169].

But ASEAN is also benefiting from the EU, which has mentored the integration process, and it is an important commercial partner – the third – and an important source of FDI and aid (Khandekar, 2014)[170]. For example, by 2013 the imports trade value was of €98 billion, while exports trade value was of €81 billion[171]. Regarding EU’s FDI in ASEAN, in 2010 the outward stock was of €192 billion and the inward stock was of €68 billion. A paradoxical issue is that the EU, after a failed attempt to close an EU-ASEAN FTA, is now approaching individual states, eroding both the unity of ASEAN whilst wanting to contribute to such union[172].

Additionally, the EU is contributing to the creation of a security architecture with ASEAN. This is an element of capital importance for EU purposes in the region, following the increased Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. But also the presence of small local conflicts and terrorist attacks – one cost the lives of 49 EU citizens in Bali, in 2002 – drives the EU to the region and the organization at the same time. The EU has supported peace processes and cooperation in some security issues has been implemented (Khandekhar, 2014)[173].

Additionally and following the assertive Chinese actions in the South China Sea, the EU supported the ASEAN proposal of a code of conduct while expressing its concerns over the current situation and expressing its interests on contributing to the US ‘Pivot’ (Khandekhar, 2014).


To be effective the EU should work on making its coercive diplomacy more efficient. In particular, it is important for the Union to produce a strong credible response to Russia’s attempts to destabilize European peace. While the EU cannot exert military pressure on Russia, the economic sanctions remain important instrument of the EU foreign policy. Even limited economic sanctions have already produced a devastating effect on the Russian economy. Russian companies lost about USD52 billion because of the sanctions[174]. There is growing outflow of capital from the country. Russia’s major energy company RosNeft, closely affiliated with the government, called on the government to allocate Euro USD 43 billion aid to help it repay external debt[175]. Russian government could not find such an amount to support Russian national energy producer[176]. About 20.000 thousands were stuck overseas because of bankruptcy of several major tourist agencies working with the West[177]. All these developments reflect the process effectiveness of the economic sanctions imposed on Russia. Given this trend the EU should demonstrate its ability and commitment to increasing its pressure if Moscow does not cease to destabilise Ukraine and the countries of Eastern Europe. The EU could achieve this by encouraging other European non-EU countries such as Switzerland, Lichtenstein and others to apply sanctions. In addition, when imposing sanctions the EU should consider that in the framework of Customs Union Kazakhstan and Belarus can purchase all the necessary goods and services and export them to Russia. In most of the cases this happens through imports of raw materials that are either processed or simply re-labelled and can then enter the Russian market, as is the case of Norwegian salmon going through Belarus.[178] Closer cooperation with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Asian partners should be achieved in order to make sanctions more efficient. Emphasis should be put on trade diversion towards the surrounding neighbourhood, in order to alleviate the pressure on agricultural production, as the devised compensation instruments in Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will not hold for long.

Another potentially threatening sanction to Russia lies in the cyber-dimension. Russian banking and business systems run on the West-produced soft-wares which require regular maintenance and update[179]. Sanctioning of this type of cooperation could generate a serious danger for the entire Russian banking and business infrastructure. Together with the ban on export of foreign electronic components the country’s development can be seriously hindered[180]. Further measures to be considered could include further financial sanctions, exclusion of Russia from the international financial system and limitations of internet traffic. To increase the effectiveness of the sanctions Europe should take into account that gradual imposition of sanctions undermines their credibility in Moscow. As an expert in Russia stressed, a swift imposition of sanctions would be more credible and thus more effective. But US tardiness has convinced the Kremlin that the United States and Europe are not serious. Because of this credibility chasm, sanctions are bound to be escalated[181]. While in the meantime they have had destructive effect to the Russian Economy and have increased the weight of Kazakhstan and Belarus in the Customs Union, the EU should be prepared for an economic cool-off of the trade or re-engage with the newly established Eurasian Commission, as well as bilaterally with the other members of the Eurasian Union in order to foster their equality.


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[1] All of the reviewed regions will have as overarching topics: strategic priorities and objectives; the EU’s enlargement and new memberships; the EU and its capacity to assert its interests before other powers and grant its own security; issues such as piracy, terrorism, peacekeeping among others; and the European Union and the new balance of power or multipolarity.

[2] Kausch, Kristina; Competitive Multipolarity in the Middle East; Instituto Affari Internationali, IAI Working Paper 14; 10.09.14; p.3

[3] By doing so avoidance of tasks and functions with NATO would be achieved.

[4] In other words, the CSDP is the more operational of the tools

[5] These steps could be perceived as the blueprint for a European Army in a future.

[6] Operations such as joint disarmament, humanitarian and rescue, military advice and assistance, conflict prevention and peace-keeping, combat forces in crisis management and peace–keeping and post–conflict stabilization. Fight against terrorism and providing tools to countries fighting against it are included (TEU 2010, Art. 43).

[7] See: European Defence Agency (2014). Mission. Retrieved from: on 19.08.2014

[8] Related to NATO the Treaty of Nice (TN) contemplates the respect the resorting of security by some Member States under the mentioned Organization and even if their objectives are also compatible with the common security and defence frameworks (Treaty of Nice , Art. 17).

[9] Moreover, the same global nature of the current world and the new threats means that defence might be implemented not at the borders but beyond the borders. See: p. 7.

[10] The problem was if the USA was prone to answer to any conventional or nuclear attack made by the Soviet Union against any (western) European nation, See: Kennedy, 2004, p. 627 and p. 742

[11] Not to say within NATO.

[12] The reader must mind, however, that at those times the EU was called the Community of European States and lacked the instruments it has now. Still, those tensions can provide an idea of the divergences that can exist on current topics.

[13] And this might provide a clue about the potential ones that can emerge between NATO and the EU in a future.

[14] In strong relation with this, the definition of the current nature of NATO.

[15] However the Kosovo conflict of 1999 evidenced once and again the lack of assets for crisis management by the EU countries with NATO membership. See: Archik & Gallis, 2008, p.2

[16] Also, the ESDI had as core aims the rebalancing roles and responsibilities between Europe and North America, the improvement of European capabilities, and to make NATO assets available for any EU-led operation. See:

[17] Those provisions are: first, granting the EU to access NATO planning; second, that the EU can request NATO to make available the commanding structures for an EU operation; third, the possibility of the EU to make use of NATO assets and capabilities; and fourth, the mutual development of military capabilities. Cfr. and,  

[18] This cell would be tasked with working on crisis anticipation (conflict prevention and stabilization), assistance in planning and coordination of civilian operations, development of expertise in civilian – military interface, strategic advance planning for civilian – military operations, and reinforce of the selected commanding national HQ.

[19] See:,%20Planning%20and%20Operations.pdf

[20] See also:

[21] However, this is open to question.

[22] Tasks of the Capability Group are the addressing of shortcoming in areas such as the countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and medical support, and ensuring transparency and co-ordination between NATO’s “Smart Defence” and EU’S Pooling and Sharing initiative. 

[23] See:

[24] Something similar is proposed by Stacey & Herbst (2014). Their proposition consists of increasing sanctions against Russia, delivering armaments to Ukraine and NATO to update its strategy. The strategy in question is the NATO – Russian Joint Doctrine, which labelled Russia as a partner and stated that no new military infrastructure in new NATO members would be built. See:

[25] See: and

[26] See footnote 24.

[27] Those assets would comprise from troops to battle tanks, strategic (nuclear) bombers and air-superiority fighters like the F-15, the F-22 and the Eurofighter.

[28] To do so Naval Groups of both EU and NATO are to be deployed. This could include aircraft carriers,   See footnote 24.

[29] If the EU and NATO should consider to use the same tactics used by Russia in Belarus through instability activities is a question that will be left open.

[30] B. Giegerich, D. Pushkina and A. Mount, Towards a Strategic Partnership? The US and Russian Response to the European Security and Defence Policy, Security Dialogue, 2006, 37, p. 395

[31] Prodi, Romano; A Wider Europe – A Proximity Policy as the key to stability;

[32] V. Samokhvalov, ‘Relations in the Triangle Russia-Ukraine-EU: Zero-sum Game or not?’, Occasional Paper of the European Institute for Security Studies, Paris, 2007, p. 11

[33] The EU-Russia Partnership for Modernisation was launched at EU-Russia Summit at Rostov-on-Don in 2010. The Partnership set the goal of modernising Russian economy and facilitating the trade through harmonisation of technical regulations and standardisation and strengthening the rule of law. Although some funds were allocated to various project the Partnership for Modenirsation did not lead to a breakthrough in EU-Russia relations.

[34]S.Lavrov: A Conversation with Russia, Speech at the Brussels Forum, 21 March 2009, available at:

[35] R. Dragneva, K. Wolczuk (eds), Eurasian Economic Integration: Law, Policy and Politics, EE: Cheltenham&Northampton, 2013

[36]Who’s it by? Integration Across Borders, Transition Report,  European Bank for Reconstruction and Development : London, 2012, p. 64

[37] ES ne gotov k rasshireniyu, Ukrainu tam ne zhdut, schitaet postpred RF. Russian Information Agency RIA Novosti, 02.04.2014, available at:

[38] J.M. Baroso, “Don’t turn your back to Europe: engage, debate, propose your ideas!”, Pan-European Citizens’ Dialogue in Brussels,

[39] R. Youngs, ‘A Door is neiither closed now oper’:  EU Policy Towards Ukraine during the since the Orange Revolution, International Politics, 46, 2009, pp. 358-375

[40] Progress Report, EU-Russia Common Spaces, 2012, EEAS: Brussels, March 2013; available at:

[41] V. Soloviev, O. Khvostunova, Moldova: The Failing Champion of European Integration, Legatum Institute Working Papers on Global Transitions: London, July 2014

[42] Council Decision 2014/486/CFSP of 22 July 2014 on the European Union Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine), OJ L 217, 23.7.2014, p. 42–47, available at: ; EU establishes mission to advise on civilian security sector reform in Ukraine, Press Release, ST 11974/14, PRESSE 405, Brussels, 22 July 2014, available:

[43] This figures do not include the budgets of EU Special Representatives for Kosovo or South Caucasus Annual report from the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament, Brussels, EU Council, 2013, Annex I p.1-3, available at:

[44] The Community of Democratic Choice is an intergovernmental organization established on December 2, 2005 by nine states of Northern, Central and Eastern Europe in Kiev. It was mainly signed by countries from the region between the Baltic, Black Sea and Caspian Sea (“The three Seas”). Its main task is to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in that region.

[45] See e.g. Nations in Transit 2014: Eurasia’s Rupture with Democracy, Freedom House: Washington, 2014.

[46] O. Lutsevych, How to Finish a Revolution: Civil Society and Democracy in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, Chatham House Briefing Paper, 1 January 2013, available at:

[47] Erasmus Mundus Master Programmes-Students Selected Per Year, Erasmus Mundus Statistics, available at:,_2004-05_to_2013-14.pdf

[48] The Danube Strategy was proposed in December 2010 and aimed to strengthen the region around the Danube transportation wise, environmentally and economically, while the Black Sea Synergy launched in 2007 has a wider focus with emphasis good governance, security, energy, research and transportation. European Union Strategy for Danube Region, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, The Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Brussels: European Commission, Brussels, 8.12.2010, COM(2010) 715 final; retrieved from:

[49] The EU 2020 Strategy has set out a goal of 20% share of renewables in the energy mix across EU member states.


[51] E. Kaliukov, Tegeran predlagaet ES zamenit rossiyskiy gas Iranskim, RBK News Reports, 11 August 2014

[52] K. Dawisha, Corruption Thrives on Russia’s Frozen Conflicts, The Moscow Times, 21 September 2014

[53] Blockmans, Steven; Diplomatic Spin: EU3+3 talks on Iran’s nuclear file, CEPS commentary 21.11.2014;

[54]FP Magazine; Deal Reached to Halt Iran’s Nuclear Program; 24.11.2013;

[55] A reason for this adjustment is that Iran is exporting up to 90% of its gas to Turkey, also because of Saudi’s switch to Azerbaijani reserves in the Caspian Sea due to US’ withdrawal from Iran. EU’s energy diversification efforts are continuously subjected to the issue of non-proliferation. If Iran abided by the stringent framework,  the EU has promised to curb sanctions and foster R&D in the civic nuclear sector.

[56] Laruelle, Marlène Iran’s regional quagmire, Fride Policy Brief 132, September 2012,  p.2

[57] Youngs, Richard and Wheeler, Eric; Iran and the West: beyond the nuclear deal; Fride Policy Brief 170, December 2013,

[58]US Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics,

[59] Its full capacity of 16 billion cubic metres is planned to be achieved by 2026.

[60] F. Najibullah, Some Fear Tajik Opposition Stronghold Could Become Hotbed Of Islamic Insurgency, RFERL News Report, 28 Septembner 2010

[61] R. Isaacs, Bringing the ‘Formal’ Back in: Nur Otan, Informal Networks, and the Countering of Elite Instability in Kazakhstan, Europe-Asia Studies. 65 (6), 2013, 1055-1079.

[62] E. Mawdsley, Development and the India-EU Strategic Partnership: Missing incentives and divergent identities, ESP Policy Brief, Brussels: Egmont Institute, October 2014

[63] Jos Boonstra, The EU Strategy for Central Asia says ‘security’. Does this include Security Sector Reform? EU CAM Working Paper 10, FRIDE/CEPS, p.1

[64] S. Peyrouse, J. Boonstra, M. Laruelle, Security and Development Approaches to Central Asia, EU CAM Working Paper 11, FRIDE:Brussels, May 2013

[65] C. Adebahr, Working inside out: what role for Special Envoys in the European External Action Service?, Policy Brief, January 2011, European Policy Centre:Brussels.

[66] Council conclusions on Central Asia, 3179th Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Luxembourg, 25 June 2012.

[67] A.S. Ghast, A Shift in the EU Strategy for Central Asia? Policy Brief, 30 April 2014, Carnegie Centre: Moscow

[68] See e.g. NSA-LA-funded Road Safety Project implemented by the Dutch Red Cross and Kyrgyz National Red Crescent Society.

[69] G. Gavrilis, Central Asia’s Border Woes & the Impact of International Assistance, Occasional Paper No. 6, Open Society Foundations: New Yorls, 2012.

[70] R. Cooper, The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-first Century, Atlantic Books; 2004, p. 94.

[71] EEAS, European Community Regional Strategy Paper for Assistance to Central Asia for the period 2007-2013 p.8

[72]EEAS, THE European Union and Central Asia: the new partnership in action p.15

[73] European Parliament DG External Policies, Evaluation of EU’s human rights’ policies and engagement in Central Asia, EXPO/B/DROI/2013/21, March 2014 p.11

[74] Paul Holtom and Mark Bromley, SIPRI Insights on Peace and Security, The Limitations of European Union Reports on Arms Exports: The Case of Central Asia, No. 2010/5, September 2010 p.14

[75] European Parliament DG External Policies, The Impact of the 2014 ISAF Forces’ Withdrawal from Afghanistan on the Central Asian Region, EXPO/B/AFET/2013-17, January 2014 p.9

[76] EU’s BOMCA program’ focus on counternarcotics is complemented by Russian campaign, as well as the Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP), which EU supports. EU is involved through OSCE’s Staff college in Tajikistan, while its Member States have other initiatives. Austria in particular has initiatied a platform for dialogue – the Central Asia Border Security Initiative (CABSI), while seven other member states have created the Central Asian Regional and Coordination Centre (CARICC). EU’s BOMCA continues also to be separate from BOMNAF (Border Management Northern Afghanistan), which it finances, but is implemented by UNDP.

[77] Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference, Final Declaration (Barcelona Declaration), Barcelona,


[78] Since 2004 the EuroMed Parliamentary Assembly.

[79] The Middle East peace process provoked by the war in Iraq has complemented the stability aspirations with a renewed political dialogue for domestic reforms, human rights and combating terrorism.

[80] Miltner, Peter; The Union for the Mediterranean and the Eastern Partnership: A Comparative Analysis; College of Europe Natolin Best Master Thesis; 02.2010; p.23-33

[81] Since 2013 the Africa and Special Operations Command are viewed as a composed of local individuals, nonpartisan, military and anti-terrorist task forces.

[82] Values such as peace, security, democracy and human rights, fundamental freedoms, gender equality, sustainable development and industrialisation, and (African) integration.

[83] Challenges and common concerns such as: human rights (children rights and gender equality included), trade, migration, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other pandemics, climate change, energy security and sustainability, terrorism, weapons – both WMD and light weapons – proliferation , and science and technology.

[84] The aspect of integration is apparently of such importance that even the European Commission launched a new programme to support African integration. See:

[85] The priorities are: first, peace and security; second, democracy, good governance and human rights; third, human development; fourth, sustainable and inclusive development and growth and continental integration; and fifth, global and emerging issues.

[86] Germany, for instance, is seeking a closer military cooperation with France on the Central Africa Republic.

[87] With supplies or other assets than physical presence in the area of operations.

[88] Like good governance, state-building, social policies, human rights and others.

[89] See:

[90] From 47 vessels seized by pirates in 2011 to 4 in December 2012.

[91] Noteworthy to mention, EUCAP Nestor and the comprehensive approach works within the given frameworks given by the Africa- EU partnership and summits.

[92] They are being affected by that problem as well.

[93] See:

[94] See:

[95] This does not mean that other aspects like socio-political issues are to be put aside, but that the EU might follow the French example and execute more military-like operations for longer periods.

[96] With the clear exception of France, although it also needed a strong support from the US.

[97] A lesson that might even come from the failure of Rwanda in 1994.

[98] See:

[99] See:

[100] Both are seemingly interrelated and takes advantage of Malian territory to seek for sanctuary and to receive finance from the organised crime, in the case of terrorist group.

[101] This operation is also embedded in the EU fight against terrorism. See:

[102][102]This terrorist group also kidnapped Western citizens in neighbouring countries and even attacks both UN and Western interests and activities on the same countries.

[103] This has been provided by China, the US, France, United Kingdom, and Israel.

[104]Constitution of the Arab Republic in Egypt 2014,

[105] The insufficient transparency of the industry makes it difficult to reach exact estimates.

[106]Menna Samir, 4% increase in MENAP economic activity expected by 2015, Daily News Egypt, 28.10.2014;

[107] Prognoses for 2015 are 12.5% GDP budget deficit, a 10-11USD million gap in the budget. Proposals for other reforms are to expand the tax base and to balance the vision for buffing up the infrastructure in order to attract FDI and to continue its efforts towards building a coalition in EU through Greek and Cypriot support for EU’s restructuring aid.

[108] Voltolini, Benedetta role of non-state actors in EU policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, EU ISS, Occasional Paper 99, 10.2012, p.11

[109] Hamas is the Islamic military counterpart of Fatah, the main wing of the Liberation movement in the Palestinian Authorities. Due to certain formulations in its covenant, such as Art.28, urging countries around Israel to open their borders for the Jihad liberation fighters it is classified as a terrorist organization with the exception of some Arab Countries, Iran, Turkey, Russia and China.

[110] O’Donnell, Clara Marina; The EU, Israel and Hamas, Centre for European Reform Working Paper, 04.2008, p.11-16

[111] The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights was introduced already along the Barcelona process and has been improved since the inception of the European Neighbourhood Policy and has since been EU’s election observation instrument worldwide.

[112] Huber, Daniela; Is the EU losing credibility in Palestine?; Fride Policy Brief 50; 06.2010; p.2

[113] The data is for 2010-2013, Source:

[114] The Oslo Accords of 1993 on the Interim Self-Government Arrangements on the Territory of Palestine

[115] p.2

[116] Hollis, Rosemary; in Aymat, Esra Balut; European involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict; EU ISS Cahier de Chaillot 124; 17.12.2010, p.34

[117] Asseburg, Mariel; in Aymat, Esra Balut; European involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict; EU ISS Cahier de Chaillot 124; 17.12.2010, p.78-81

[118]Action Fiche for the southern Neighbourhood region programmeSupport for Partnership, Reform and Inclusive Growth,

[119]European Endowment for Democracy,

[120]Josef Janning and Andrea Frontini, EPC Issue Paper 69, The Arab Spring one year later: voices from North Africa, Middle East and Europe, July 2012; p.32;

[121] Moscow is also increasingly liaising with Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia, as Assad lost his support from Hamas.

[122] What is more there are allegations that the non-interference doctrine of Erdogan aims to melt the Kurdish minority in Turkey.

[123]Al-Anani, Khalil; ISIS Enters Egypt, How Washington Must Respond; Foreign Affairs Magazine; 04.12.14

[124] Sharqieh, Ibrahim; International               Intervention, Justice and Accountability in Yemen; ECFR background paper, November 2013; p.2

[125] With Qatar being the sole country within the GCC against this solution.

[126]Echagüe, Ana; Yemen’s creaky compromise; Nº 7 – March 2014; p.2

[127] Transfeld, Mareike; Houthis on the Rise in Yemen; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; 31.10.14

[128] Wehrey, Frederic; Ending Libya’s Civil War, Reconciling Politics, Rebuilding Secuirty, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; CP 223; September 2014; p. 4-14, 25-35

[129] The SSC was formed to quell Tripoli from December 2011 onwards and had been given the formal authority for investigation and arrest.

[130] Gaub, Florence; Libya: the struggle for security; EU ISS Brief 25; June 2013; p.4

[131] This might be due to the fact that the EU lacks of capacity and public support for operations in Africa, as well as the preference of national interests over common interest by some EU Member States.

[132] NATO plays a central role here through the CDSP.

[133] As of 16.12.14, the EPP, S&D and ALDE have given their principal support of the Joint Motion for a Resolution.

[134] Laruelle, Marlène Iran’s regional quagmire, Fride Policy Brief 132, September 2012,

[135] Following the switch of a generalized system towards one of cash transfers, the state aid has been predominantly targeting high income sectors and not alleviating poverty.

[136] The region as a whole – China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries –  accounted for nearly 21% of global GDP by 2012. This trend might be rising. See:

[137] This with ASEAN and providing technical assistance.

[138] Such as climate change, energy security, cyberspace, environmental protection, poverty, economic imbalances and pandemics.

[139] In comparison, the trade with the United States accounted for 14.4% of the total trade by 2010.

[140] All data from 2010.

[141] This would hamper the economic growth of the EU; growth that is very much needed in the light of the current crisis.

[142] In addition, there are some small local conflicts in which the EU has been involved in their resolution.

[143] In other words, the EU is adding more fuel to the fire with those sales, acting against the stability it seeks to establish.

[144] Cambodia has been one of the targets of choice for China thus providing large amounts of investments and ‘winning its heart and mind’.

[145] See: Tiezzi, S (2014). China back Russia on Ukraine.

[146] This matter is so urgent that even the President of the American Council in Germany, William M. Drozdiak, stated that the US ‘pivot’ was a mistake and that Europe needs the US in the light of the recent event at Ukraine. See:

[147] It is already doing so, according to Boisseau du Rocher & Hellendorf (2014). See:

[148] In turn, China is becoming an important factor for African growth.

[149] Minerals imports from Africa accounts $51 billion, wood accounts $1.5 billion, stone and glass accounts $2.5 billion, metals accounts $7 billion, and other types of resources $2 billion. All data from 2010. See:

[150] However, China is still being negatively perceived in Africa’s large economies, and in some countries Chinese nationals have been even expelled (The Economist, 2013).

[151] In other words, human rights. 

[152] Not surprisingly, China also redesigned its approach to Africa in a similar way as of the EU: business instead of aid. This after critiques made by donors on the undermining of OECD aid consensus. See: Lirong, 2011, p. 12.

[153] For China, the EU is the first imports partner, and the second in export.

[154] See:

[155] For example, private investment by Chinese firms were of 67% in Germany, 41% in France, 37% in Italy, 36% in the Netherlands, and 33% in the UK. Overall there have been investments in each of the EU members. See: European Union Chamber of Commerce in China (2013). Chinese Outbound Investment in the European Union. From:

[156] These difficulties takes place especially in the market of public procurement.  

[157] See:

[158] Implementation of a common agenda might, according to Casarini (2014), end the competition between the EU Member States to attract Chinese capital, and reduce the possibility for china to implement a divide and rule strategy on European governments, influencing them as a result. It can also give a space for the EU to deliver a coordinated and unified answer to China.

[159] Especially in Africa, when there is a competition between China and the EU, see the previous section on the Middle East and Africa.

[160] See: Trigkas, V (2014). Is China a Lonely Diva? 

[161] Other sources account the military material supplied to China so far: French sonars, anti-submarine helicopters; French and German engines on surface warships, British engines on PLA fighters; British airborne early warning radars on surveillance aircraft; designs by Eurocopter of attack and transport helicopters; German submarine engines. Also it seems that China had access to European technology for navigation and drones. See:

[162] However, Japan and South Korea are viewed as important free market democracies and sharing similar values with the EU.

[163] See: and

[164] Namely London, Berlin, and Paris. 

[165] One example of the importance for the EU on the developing events regarding the Koreas are close following made by the EU to the Six Party Talks. See:

[166] See:

[167] See:

[168] See footnote 21.

[169] Noteworthy to point out that the region hosts many commercial shipping lines, where Chinese and European goods are transiting.

[170] It is at least the top investor in ASEAN countries.

[171] See:

[172] It seems, however, that the FTA has been settled in December 2012, but the ‘single country’ approaches remain. See:

[173] Ranging from disaster management and preparedness to counter-terrorism.

[174] Graeme Wearden, Ukraine crisis sends stock markets sliding; Russia’s MICEX tumbles 11%, The Guardian, 3 March 2014

[175] Rosneft requests $42bn loan from Russian government, BBC News Report, 15 August 2014, available at:

[176] Ulykkaev schitaet nevozmozhnym vydeleni “Rosnefti” 1,5 trln rublei iz FNB, ITAR-TASS News Reports, 26 August 2014; available at:

[177] A. Ostroukh, Economic Fallout from Ukraine Crisis Leaves Russian Tourists Stranded, Wall Street Journal, 5 August 2014, available at:


[179]  D. d’Amora, Million-Man Army of Programmers Won’t Free Russia From Western Software, The Moscow Times, 19 August 2014, available:

[180] J. Cooper, How Sanctions Will Hit Russia’s Rearmament Plans, Chatham House Comments, 13 August 2014, available at:,2PXTC,BLOMV3,9X14H,1

[181] A. Aslund, How Far Are Western Sanctions against Russia Going?, RBC Daily: Moscow, 4 August 2014, available:


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