Breakfast discussion on the future of EU-Pakistan relations

A discussion on the importance of Pakistan to world affairs and how Europe can improve its strategies towards Islamabad


Dr. Angela Stanzel, Policy Fellow and ECFR China & Asia Expert

Ambassador Dr Michael Koch, German Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan

Chaired by

Josef Janning, Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR Berlin Office

ECFR Berlin organized a coffee morning to mark the recent publication of Dr Angela Stanzel's Policy Brief on Pakistan “After AfPak: Reframing Europe's Pakistan policy”. The German government's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dr. Michael Koch, was invited as a guest speaker to comment on the brief. The discussion highlighted four central reasons why Pakistan is important to Europe: 1) In Pakistan we (Europeans and others of course) face the challenge of fighting terrorism. If we take ISIS seriously, we have to take the situation in Pakistan seriously too. 2) Pakistan is central to any European debate on the global role of Islam in the future, i.e. whether democracy and Islam are compatible. 3) Global issues (e.g. Pakistan’s role in the UN on human rights, global governance, disarmament etc.) cannot be solved without Pakistan, i.e. Pakistan is a typical spoiler state in international diplomacy. 4) A stable Pakistan is essential to the region's stability (from Afghanistan to India to China etc.). The new GSP+ status of Pakistan was highlighted as well, since it finally gives the EU leverage to discuss issues with Pakistan which could not be discussed before, in particular human rights issues. But the scope of leverage of any country on Pakistan is limited, even that of China. Change has to come from inside Pakistan, since the most crucial issue in Pakistan is weak institutions. All participants agreed, though, that Europe – and Germany – could engage more with Pakistan.

Participants included high-level representatives of the chancellery, ministries (e.g. department heads of the ministry of development and the foreign office), as well as representatives of all relevant Think Tanks and foundations, such as Boell, FES and SWP. The interest in this topic seemed really high, and our guests emphasized how timely they found this event. For us, it raises the need for further discussion on related topics (Asia beyond China).