As European foreign ministers settle down to what must be one of their most uncomfortable meetings this year, my colleague Ulrike Guerot and I try to remind people why the Lisbon Treaty was proposed in the first place. No, not an evil scheme to vanquish long-held British liberties. That role, if you believe the critics , is Gordon Brown’s . But rather, they did it to help deal with Europe’s decline.
If uncorrected, what does this mean in the long-term: a greater diffusion of power and decreased support for a rules-based multilateral system and international norms, such as human rights, at a time when the world is moving to a no-polar set-up.
In the article, we suggest two options are available: a minimalist and a maximalist one.
Minimally, European leaders should think about ways of improving the Union’s foreign policy instruments. Many of the changes could probably be created without a Treaty and through Council and Commission decisions.
But a more maximalist option would be to push ahead with a multi-speed Europe. Multi-speed not in the sense of fast/middle/slow; rather, multi-speed in the sense of overlapping ellipses of cooperation. This is not the same as consigning Europe to fragments – because the key ellipses (e.g. euro, Schengen) expand over time until they come to cover all European countries.