New strategic agenda: Brussel`s optimistic forecasts

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Baku, 3 September 2019 –

For several years, experts have been point out growing negative tendencies within the European Union. Some even hint at the possible collapse of the organization. Brexit is frequently recalled in this context, with experts believing that it will encourage other countries to leave the organization. Against this background, the preparation of an optimistic strategic agenda on the future of the EU is of special interest. The agenda encompasses the organization`s development priorities until 2024. Those who drafted the agenda believe that the organization will develop in specific areas. But whether this will happen or not remains a question. What adds interest to the agenda is that apart from EU member states it also highlights some points relating to non-member states that cooperate with the organization. This article will look at the EU`s new strategic agenda from a geopolitical point of view.

Vision of the future: Europe`s hopes

It`s not a secret that the European Union is trying to increase its role in the global politics. Brussels feels encouraged by the deepening confrontations all around the world. However, some within the European Union feel pessimistic about the organization`s development prospects. They do not even rule out that the European Union may collapse.

But Brussels is optimistic, eying the expansion of its functional capacity and improvement of its international image. From this point of view, the EU`s new strategic agenda is quite thought-provoking because Brussels seems to have ambitious goals.

These priorities are set forth clearly and unambiguously in the agenda and include protecting citizens and freedoms; developing a strong and vibrant economic base; building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe; promoting European interests and values on the global stage. The fulfillment of each of these goals requires the implementation of large-scale programs. But experts point out the psychological aspect of the issue – Brussel`s real intentions. It is for the first time in the past few years that the EU emphasizes the need for expansion.

The agenda focuses closely on protecting citizens and freedoms. Achieving this, the EU believes, requires effective control of the external borders and a fully functioning comprehensive migration policy. The document says ''we must protect our societies from malicious cyber activities, hybrid threats and disinformation…'' It seems that there are no factors that restrict freedoms of citizens in the EU. The organization is capable of ensuring human rights. So Brussels believes that the main threat comes from outside in the form of information warfare and the expanding illegal migration.

Naturally, these two factors pose a threat to every society. Information warfare is nowadays poses serious risks, even shaping public opinion. But linking all problems to external factors is not right. Experience shows that citizens of EU member states face restrictions of their rights and freedoms. Large powers in the European Union pursue double standard policies toward their citizens. For example, some countries ban the denial of the ''Armenian genocide'', others put similar terms in relation to other events.

Some EU citizens face different treatment on religious grounds. Muslims are oppressed, harassed in the streets, persecuted openly or secretly. For example, in the United Kingdom, a Syrian Muslim refugee boy was attacked by a British teenager in a street. And the boy`s family was advised to leave the city.

Far-right populists have a more radical attitude to such situations. Their political popularity is increasing rapidly in Europe. But why doesn`t the strategic agenda focus on such issues? Doesn`t blaming only external factors for all troubles mean hiding the reality and showing yourself weaker in the face of future challenges? It cannot be considered a positive factor for an organization that aims to increase its global geopolitical influence. Anyway, Brussels sees information warfare and migration as main sources of threat. This means that there will not be any change for the better in the European Union`s attitude toward migrants. And this will definitely lead to certain political and moral implications within the organization.

Security and expansion: are there any prospects?

What attracts special attention is that the EU set security as the key priority. This means that the organization will be trying to get rid of the US influence. Europe may establish its own army. Brussels` striving for independence from Washington concerning security may encourage the US to commit provocations. But Europeans look quite determined. They refuse to accept the Euro-Atlantic bloc in the form it was established last century. This highlights the seriousness of the EU`s intention to get rid of Washington`s influence. Taking into account that other superpowers also pursue similar plans, the process of normalizing relations with the United States will obviously face serious impediment.

Against this background, ensuring economic growth and expansion will not be an easy task because the organization is influenced heavily by the US on both fronts. As regards the issue of economic growth, time will show to what extent the EU will be able to get on under the terms imposed by Washington. As far as the expansion is concerned, there are two good reasons for pessimism about its success.

Firstly, Brexit confirms the existence of the threat of the EU collapse. The UK`s leaving the organization may encourage others to do so. What should not be forgotten is that the US is interesting in this tendency growing. Prior to his visit to London, Donald Trump twitted: ''They will soon be calling me Mr. Brexit''.

Secondly, Brussels revealed its intention to expand through one of the Western Balkan countries. Russia is showing tough resistance to this process. Efforts are ongoing to deepen confrontation between Kosovo and Serbia. There is already a risk of a local conflict. In addition, there is serious uncertainty about the Western Balkans` capability to comply with the EU standards. For example, are Serbia and Kosovo ready for this?

These factors reflect a dark future of the EU expansion, with the organization seeming to calm itself down psychologically. Experts also underline the absence of the EU`s plan to fight climate change.

Interestingly, some believe the fact that the EU officially announced expansion plans opens up certain opportunities for Eastern Partnership countries. But the validity of this argument raises questions because some of the Eastern Partnership countries face numerous geopolitical and economic difficulties, some have conflicts and others face biased attitude from others.

For example, Armenia`s occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijan`s territories excludes the possibility of these two countries becoming part of a same organization. The OSCE Minsk Group, which mediates the conflict, has not yet taken any tangible step. How can Azerbaijan become a member of the European Union under such circumstances? Or how can it work on a cooperation plan that would not take the Armenian factor into account? It`s impossible. Similarly, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have conflicts with Russia.

Against this background, it is interesting how the EU is going to increase its role in the global politics. It should not be forgotten that there is a very dangerous, uncertain and complex struggle in the America-China-Russia triangle. How this struggle will change the balance of power is a question. Will the EU be able to maneuver? It`s not a secret that the organization is now seriously influenced by both the US and China. On the other side there is Russia. Media reports have recently alleged that Moscow is now exerting pressure on Brussels. Some hint at the recent events in Austria.

The EU`s strategic agenda therefore features very interesting goals and intentions. Whether they will be fulfilled or nor is uncertain. However, it shows the organization`s ambition and determination to revitalize its role on the global geopolitical scene. This will obviously be a challenging endeavor against the background of processes taking place within the European Union in recent years.

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