Europeans and interventionism: all or nothing?
Discussion on the response to Europeans turning their backs on interventionism.
Richard Gowan, Associate Director of the Managing Global Order Programme, Center on International Cooperation, New York University
Nick Witney, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
Scarred by Iraq and Afghanistan, and preoccupied by economic crisis and revived threats closer to home, Europeans are turning their backs on interventionism. Only a handful of European states are engaged against IS – and Britain’s role has been characterised as “strikingly modest”. Yet a Middle East and North Africa in flames are hard to ignore – especially as Libya’s crisis deepens, and the exodus of refugees intensifies.
The EU claims to be in the business of “crisis management” – ready if need be to make “robust” military interventions to control conflict, especially in its neighbourhood. In practice, it now prefers to “outsource” such interventions to others, notably the United Nations and African Union (AU), limiting itself to supporting roles. This is not just shabby; it also saps Europe’s influence in a world in which European interests and values are increasingly contested. Unless the EU rediscovers a willingness to bear the costs and risks of military operations to control conflict, Europe can expect ever intensifying refugee pressure on its southern borders. How should Europe respond? Richard Gowan and Nick Witney presented the findings of their latest publication ‘Why Europe must stop outsourcing its security’.
Richard Gowan is an associate fellow at ECFR. He is based at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, where he works on peacekeeping and multilateral security institutions. He is the associate director of the Center’s Managing Global Order programme.
Nick Witney is a senior policy fellow at ECFR. He previously served as the first chief executive of the European Defence Agency.