If there ever was a need and an opportunity for Europe to show its muscles, Colonel Gaddafi is providing one. The test is a different one for the EU after the turmoil in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond, but European leaders can no longer look the other way.
Middle East and North Africa
The fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt has not so much given Israel a headache as a migraine. Europe - and Germany in particular - needs to play a leading role in reassuring Israel and keeping Middle East peace on track.
For all the talk of a 'global Europe', the EU struggles to influence its neighbours in the Eastern Mediterranean. Its uncertainty over Egypt is indicative of a wider loss of direction in the EU's regional policies.
Europe went through its own year of democratic revolutions in 1989, yet its reaction to events in north Africa has lacked passion and purpose. European leaders meeting for a summit in Brussels must seize the opportunity to commit themselves to a strategy that puts them firmly on the side of democracy in the Middle East.
EU member states worry too much about speaking with one voice. But endless unified expressions of 'interest and concern' about the situation in Tunisia and Egypt show that the problem is that others aren't listening because we often have little to say.
There are two important lessons to be learned from last month's EU-Africa summit. First, Europe needs to reassert its diplomatic clout after a post-Lisbon period of uncertainty. Second, it needs to think more cleverly about how to promote its values in a world where our economic and political models are no longer unquestioningly accepted.
The first round of Egypt's elections suffered from irregularities and unfair competition, yet this received little coverage abroad. This must change, especially if Egypt is to be thought of as a benchmark for political progress in the wider Middle East.
Rampant defence cuts throughout the EU will probably spell the end of European countries' little-known but important interventions in African conflicts. This invites humanitarian disasters on parts of the map that increasingly small numbers of European citizens could identify.
Europe has a lot to gain from being inventive. A Turkish-EU troop offer could help unlock Gaza - and the Middle East peace process
Iran looks set to defy President Obama?s offer of engagement and the international community ?- including the EU -? will have to decide how to react. But what is Tehran thinking?