Appeal to the European Institutions – The Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Western Balkans: towards a European foreign policy

, by Antonio Longo, Davide Emanuele Iannace

All the versions of this article: [English] [italiano]

Appeal to the European Institutions – The Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Western Balkans: towards a European foreign policy
Credits: The Ventotene Lighthouse ® 2020. All rights reserved.

We are publishing this appeal released by The Ventotene Lighthouse also here on The New Federalist. You can find the list of signatories and a form to sign the appeal on the aforementioned link.

It is glaringly evident that strategic objectives and clear guidelines for a European foreign and security policy urgently need to be formulated. The European Union is committed to defining its role and taking action for a new “world order”, focusing on the development of multilateralism as the best way to govern global public goods. Europe’s neighbouring areas represent the most immediate test for a truly European foreign policy. This Appeal, beginning in Italy, sets out to contribute to a broad debate on these issues in Europe, through proposals and ideas. It has been sent to the President of the European Parliament, the President of the European Commission and to the High Representative for Foreign Policy and European Security.

The pandemic has hit Europe and the rest of the world hard, making it glaringly evident that we urgently need to transform the economy and our way of life if they are to remain compatible, in the long term, with Planet Earth.

The world needs a new political order, based on the creation of global supranational institutions to protect global public goods, above all health and the environment.

Multilateral, cooperative policies between states are required, starting with the USA, China and Russia, in order to overcome the power politics that have always characterized relations between them.

Europe, which came into being based on the very idea of moving past the absolute sovereignty of states, can and must accept its own responsibilities in building this new ‘world order’: relations between states must be based on universally recognized law; democracy and the human rights of freedom and equality must be pursued – as well as affirmed – as universal values.

These are the basic conditions that must be met for the individual to be considered an “autonomous centre of life”, as was written in the “Ventotene Manifesto” eighty years ago.

The European Union can no longer put off formulating its own foreign policy based on these principles, establishing its own strategic autonomy within the framework of a renewed Atlantic Alliance (as an equal partnership).

This has been highlighted by recent events in Afghanistan, which have highlighted the irreversible crisis of the United States in its role as “government of the West”.

It is also dictated by the need to forge a new relationship with Russia based on détente and cooperation, inspired by the perspective of the “Common European Home” indicated by Gorbachev in his day.

Europe must equip itself with its own defence force: it urgently needs military troops capable of rapid intervention to defend European territory and defend human rights abroad, “for peace keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter” (Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union).

This new European military force could be based on the present Eurocorps, and incorporated into the existing Treaties. It should operate under the control of a European Council acting as “European Security Council”, comprising the states supplying personnel and resources.

In recent times, European institutions have been driving change, gradually enabling the European Union to provide a coordinated, common response, both to emergencies and for health security, and in economic and social terms. In the space of a few months the Recovery Plan for Europe introduced the Union’s first form of fiscal capacity, issuing European bonds to finance the green energy and digital transition of the economy, and social and territorial cohesion, in an increasingly federal union.

To consolidate the change that has taken place and launch a genuine common foreign and security policy, it is now imperative to outline Europe’s role in neighbouring areas in more detail.

The content of European foreign policy is determined by its response to real issues.

There are three main challenges facing European institutions in the short term:

1) A single policy for the Mediterranean area

The Mediterranean sea is currently the dumping ground for tensions and unsolved problems in Africa and the Middle East. The Union can no longer stand by in the face of the democratic power vacuum in North Africa (and sub-Saharan Africa), which condemns these countries to underdevelopment, resource grabbing and uncontrollable migration, making them hubs of illicit traffic, and home to corrupt systems of power and endless internal wars. This situation prevents these areas from initiating a process of sustainable development and energy transition, which is the only way to change the economy and life of these countries.

To this end, the European Union must:

  • Identify a clear common strategy (at least among the EU governments interested, and as a continuation of the approach formulated at the Berlin Conference on Libya, of January 2020 and June 2021) towards the countries of North Africa, to help them achieve political stability in the context of a democratic process, also guaranteed by the UN;
  • present a coordinated energy transition plan to the countries of North Africa – as the basis of a Plan between the European Union and the African Union. This should be based on the pan-African management of public goods (water, alternative energies, agriculture), the shared construction of material infrastructures (energy networks, port and airport systems) and the development of cultural and technological partnerships (universities, research centres) to launch forms of sustainable economic integration between the two of the Mediterranean, also capitalizing on existing city networks (e.g. medCities).

An outlook of this kind would also benefit the southern regions of the Union, a natural “bridge” between Europe and Africa, thanks also to the use of NextGenEU resources.

2) EU accession for the Western Balkans

The peoples of the Western Balkans are an integral part of European history and culture. For them, joining the Union would be a way to move beyond their disastrous experience of the nation-state, such as tragic divisions, war, and currents of nationalism that they experienced in the 1990s.

The decision to embrace a common destiny, with shared rights and duties, has the same meaning for them now as it had for those European states which, after two horrific world wars, decided to change the course of events by initiating a process of unity.

For the Union, the inclusion of the Western Balkans is motivated by clear political/strategic reasons, rather than economic considerations. By broadening the reach of its governance to unstable areas of Europe, the Union will play a more significant role in the dialogue with the US, Russia, and China when it comes to drawing up global rules to govern relations between states.

For the Western Balkans, belonging to the Union will guarantee a security they would otherwise not be able to have. Being part of the European Green Deal project would enable these countries to make a qualitative leap in their economic and social development, in common with other European peoples.

The policy of enlargement has always had the effect of strengthening European institutions, as happened when the Eastern European countries joined the Union: the Treaty of Lisbon heralded great institutional progress, strengthening the powers of the Parliament and the Commission. Enlarging the Union is a clear sign of its successful vocation to unite peoples, changing relations between states and bringing them into the arena of law rather than force: this is the essence of a federal process.

The Council has already decided (March 2020) to start accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and the Commission has already presented (July 2020) the draft negotiating frameworks to the Member States – the first to take into account the ‘revised methodology for enlargement to the Western Balkans’. The negotiations must be based on countries’ commitment to respect the principles of the “rule of law”.

The process of enlargement to the Western Balkans. including Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, must be restarted soon, so it can be successfully completed before the next European elections in 2024, thus enabling these countries to be part of the European constitutional process.

3) Peace in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian question

The Middle East continues to be the area in which global disorder generates the most serious crises. Over time, conflicts between superpowers have also led to conflicts between “regional” powers for the control of an area crucial to a global economy whose growth is fuelled by oil.

A radical change is needed, with a new path to offer security and development to this part of the world: cooperation must replace conflict, and the rule of law must prevail over force, exactly as happened with the process of European unification seventy years ago, which transformed relations between European states after centuries of war.

Only in this context will European action to rescue and welcome Afghan refugees become the first step in a new course, based on sustainable economic development in both environmental and social terms: the main challenges will be alternative energies and new technologies, as well as water and agriculture.

The economic unification of the Middle East market represents the framework in which this transformation process is conceivable.

The point to leverage is the pacification between Israelis and Palestinians, as demanded by the new generations of the various communities. It is possible for them to coexist under a common democratic entity: a federation between the six Israeli provinces and the territories of the West Bank and Gaza is the only prospect/set-up capable of guaranteeing rights and security to the various communities, sanctioned by a Constituent Assembly.

The European Union is the only credible guarantor of this constitutional process, because its origins come from overcoming division and war. Its economic and commercial power can help generate a new process of economic development for the entire area.

As exponents of European civil society and culture, members of federalist, pro-European, environmental and civil rights movements and political forces inspired by the values of democracy, freedom and social justice, we ask that:

  • The European Parliament launch a major debate on the role of the Union in the world, setting out guidelines for a European foreign policy.
  • The European Council indicate the strategic foundation for the Union’s foreign policy action, then let the Council decide by qualified majority how to implement it.
  • The European Commission and the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy initiate the consequent foreign policy actions, rendering them enforceable and bearing political responsibility for them.
  • The Conference on the Future of Europe initiate an in-depth discussion on the strategic lines of the European Union’s foreign policy.
Your comments

Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom