A New Concert of Europe?

by | Oct 15, 2010

My colleagues at the European Council on Foreign Relations have just published a new report: The Spectre of a Multipolar Europe.  Lead authors Mark Leonard and Ivan Krastev call for a “regular informal trialogue” between the EU, Russia and Turkey on the European security order:

The current order is dysfunctional, failing to deal with wars in Kosovo and Georgia, recent instability in Kyrgyzstan or several so-called frozen conflicts dotted around the continent. The grand project of expanding EU membership eastwards has faltered of late. Even when – as we at the European Council on Foreign Relations strongly hope – Turkey and the Western Balkans become members of the EU, it is clear that NATO and the EU will never be the main security institutions in Europe, covering all European states.

What would the trialogue do?

Rather than trying to tinker with the existing institutions, the idea would be to re-invigorate them from the bottom up. By involving Russia in the US-initiated missile defence shield, NATO can build on Obama’s ‘reset’ to cement a continent-wide security identity, focusing minds on external threats to Europe. But alongside this, the EU needs to engage its neighbours in advancing security within Europe. It needs to build trust between Europe’s powers and challenge them demonstrate resolve – by engaging Russia in solving frozen conflicts such as Transnistria, for instance, or supporting Turkish involvement in Bosnia.

This sounds like a 21st Century Concert of Europe – although it also looks a bit like one of the “Coalitions of the Weaklings” I advocated earlier this year:

Instead of Bush-era “coalitions of the willing”, it may be necessary to form “coalitions of the weaklings”: groups of states that can’t handle international problems alone, but have sufficient leverage between them to do something.

I suspect that ECFR’s proposals to think beyond formal institutions will create quite a rumpus in both the EU and NATO quarters of Brussels. Good stuff!


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