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Peace without money, war without Americans: challenges for European strategy



    1. Director of the Europe in the World programme at Egmont, The Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels, and teaches both at Ghent University and at the College of Europe in Bruges.
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    • The author warmly thanks Alyson Bailes (University of Reykjavik), Richard G. Whitman (University of Kent), Daniel Fiott (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and Marc Otte, Jo Coelmont and Thomas Renard (Egmont Institute) for their insightful comments and suggestions; he is also grateful for comments by the somewhat less Euro-enthusiast reviewer, which greatly helped him to strengthen the argument.


Just as the shift of the American strategic focus to Asia and the Pacific forces strategic autonomy upon Europeans, the financial crisis limits their means. In the age of austerity, dispersed efforts and spending on secondary issues have become unaffordable. Prioritizing and making strategic choices have become more important than ever. As no single European state can face all these challenges alone, a joint European strategy must assess where collective foreign and security policies can bring the most added value to the national effort. Through the European Union, Europeans have attempted as much in the 2003 European Security Strategy, but for lack of prioritization, the EU has so far underperformed. Yet the EU does have access to substantial means and possesses all the necessary instruments to pursue a comprehensive strategy. The key to their effective use is a collective European strategic review, starting from the vital interests that all European states have in common. Two priorities stand out: making a new start in Europe's relations with its southern neighbours after the Arab Awakening, and deciding which responsibilities Europeans will assume as security providers outside their borders after the American ‘pivot’ to Asia.