Opinion

Essential emancipation of Europe

joe-biden-euu

The blow, or "stab in the back", that the trilateral AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and United States) agreement has dealt France in particular and the European Union in general, has provided the necessary massive dose of reality to a Europe that had not quite come to terms with its inexorable reduction to a peripheral role and a certain irrelevance in the new world order that is taking shape.

By demonising the previous US president, Donald Trump, and, by contrast, pinning enormous hopes on the current one, Joe Biden, the EU has failed to bring the great speed to its inevitable transformation process that the global geopolitical upheaval demands. At least Trump should be credited with having put more bluntly than anyone else on the table the role that the United States reserved for Europe, following his forceful 'America First' proclamation. Cosmetics aside, Joe Biden is following the same line, so that he has made it very clear that his undisputed priority is to deal with China's meteoric rise and its expansion around the world, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, far above Europe's interests, despite the initial fine words, both his own and those of his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

As a result, Europe is already perceived in Washington as an ally that can be ignored because it is totally won over to its cause, its own. They would not conceive of such a drastic overturning of the EU as to renounce the common values and model of society that they both espouse, despite the nuances and differences. But at the same time, and for this very reason, this Europe has been relegated to the periphery of the new order, for the shaping of which Biden is already known to prefer other alliances.

Disenchantment and the temptation to disband 

In the wake of this bewilderment, it cannot be ruled out that one or more leaders of the EU-27 might be tempted to try to disband, especially since external pressures on the stunned members of the European Union will increase: from China, of course, but also from Russia, from the former member United Kingdom and no doubt from a large part of the Arab world. It will have to be admitted with all its consequences that the current crisis has as an induced consequence a weakening of the EU, which, as in all major crises, will only be overcome by a further strengthening of Europe.

How? That is the crux of the matter. And the first thing it will have to do is to put its own emancipation into practice. As in the case of teenagers who want to become adults, emancipation is not asked for; it is implemented, but with all the consequences, including paying for your own room and board. Nor is it the least of these consequences to recognise that we must finally take on the defence of our own interests, to implement the Europe of Defence right now, starting with the establishment of the Rapid Intervention Force with 5,000 troops, the minimo minimorum. That costs money, a lot of money, so it is time for the leaders of the European Council, the Commission and the members of the European Parliament to face up to the challenge of telling their citizens that the party is over, and that the unique model of advanced European society they enjoy could be ruined if the necessary sacrifices are not made. 

NATO, Europe's post-World War II defence shield, is supported 80 per cent of its budget by non-EU powers: the US, the UK and Canada. To continue with it as it stands would be tantamount to Europe's perpetual dependence on Washington, in other words, to wanting to eat the soup all its life. A bargain that obviously does not give you much of a say, let alone the right to contradict the boss's orders.

It is therefore necessary to change our language, or else we will not win and be surprised one surprise after another. Biden did not warn either Brussels or France that, with his new trilateral, he was stealing a $90 billion nuclear submarine contract with Australia from the EU's only nuclear power. This is not only an economic and socially significant deal, but also a transfer of sensitive technology of this magnitude to an ally, with the exception of Israel. Nor did Biden warn his European friends and allies of his final plans to evacuate Afghanistan, whose chaotic disaster might have been avoided if European opinion had been consulted, but whose mass emigration will undoubtedly come crashing through the EU's doors. 

It is therefore urgent that Europe's emancipation be carried out at the speed required by the challenge at stake. It is clear that the reforms already planned in the EU institutions will have to be speeded up, instant decision-making mechanisms will have to be set up as soon as possible and, above all, citizens will have to be made aware that we are entering a decisive period that will determine their lives. It may not be a war as we know it or imagine it, but it is close enough.