Instead of helping to solve the world’s problems, Europe is now a problem itself
As the 27 EU leaders return to their capitals after yet another critical European summit aimed at solving the profound problems affecting the continent, the impact of Europe’s malaise on its international standing is now clear.
The second annual edition of ECFR’s groundbreaking ‘European Foreign Policy Scorecard’ suggests that Europe is now a problem for the economic prospects of the rest of the world, rather than part of a solution to the world’s problems.
ECFR’s Scorecard assesses the EU’s performance on the global stage across all 27 states, in 6 issues broken down into 80 specific areas. It details the impacts of the euro crisis, the Arab Awakening, Germany’s growing leadership role and other issues on Europe’s global influence and its effectiveness in pursuing its interests.
The euro crisis has led to a severe loss in soft power. In last year’s ECFR Scorecard we noted that Europe was distracted by the crisis; this year it was diminished by it. The EU is seen as less attractive to those wanting to join or to copy its multinational model.
The crisis also limited Europe’s ability to react to the Arab Awakening – arguably the most important geopolitical event in its neighbourhood since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In the past Germany often deferred to France and Britain on foreign policy issues, but ECFR’s Scorecard now classifies it as a ‘leader’ in more areas than any other country. It was also classified as a ‘slacker’ on several – including Libya – indicating that it increasingly follows its own national interests.
- New foreign policy leaders are now emerging – Sweden was a ‘leader’ in 11 areas (more than Spain and Italy combined), and Poland was a ‘leader’ in 8.
The key findings in the six areas of ECFR’s Scorecard were:
China (overall grade ‘C’) – Europe hoped to strengthen its approach to China in 2011, but Europe’s crisis turned into China’s opportunity, with European nations fighting each for Chinese markets, investments and cash.
Middle East and North Africa (C+) – The Arab Awakening took everybody by surprise, but EU member states have so far failed to deliver on the promised ‘money, markets and mobility’. Libya highlighted some European divisions, and EU leaders have not yet developed a long term approach to the region.
Russia (C+) – The EU achieved an impressive degree of unity when dealing with Moscow, and there were concrete results in areas like trade. The impending return of Vladimir Putin, however, is ending a period of wishful thinking over its engagement with Russia.
United States (B-) – The US ‘leadership from behind’ in Libya showed that some European countries could play a dynamic international role and cooperate with the US. But it also revealed serious shortcomings in European capabilities, as the US starts pursuing its Asia First strategy at the expense of interest in Europe.
Wider Europe (C+) – The EU achieved progress on issues such as enlargement in the Western Balkans, but relations with key regional player Turkey were (again) deeply troubled. There were only limited results in relations with Eastern Partnership countries.
- Multilateral issues and crisis management (B) – Securing a legally binding deal on reducing carbon emissions at Durban was one of several qualified European successes. But the efforts to stabilise the euro zone overshadowed these, for instance in the troubled G20 summit in Cannes.
Click here for PDF downloads of ECFR’s European Foreign Policy Scorecard 2012
Click here to visit an interactive internet version of the Scorecard on ECFR’s website
Click here for audio interviews with the Scorecard’s authors in English, French and German
“One of the most invidious effects of the crisis is the creeping renationalisation of European foreign policy. There is still coordination, but instead of being able to present a powerful, united European face to the world, the trend is towards looking after national interests – and that will help none of us in the long term.” Justin Vaïsse
Press reaction to the first annual edition of ECFR’s European Foreign Policy Scorecard:
“A pioneering experiment in foreign policy analysis.” Foreign Affairs
“An excellent document.” Le Monde
“The first transparent evaluation of the success of European foreign policy.” Der Spiegel
“A very, very good summary of what the EU is trying to do and where it’s involved.” New York Times
ECFR’s European Foreign Policy Scorecard is an innovative research project that provides a systematic annual assessment of Europe’s performance in dealing with the rest of the world. The first edition of the Scorecard assessed European performance in 2010 – “year zero” for the new foreign policy framework that was created by the Lisbon Treaty. The Scorecard project was funded by Compagnia di San Paolo. Click here for an explanation of the methodology
Appendix 1: Overall grades from the Scorecard 2012
Relations with China: C (last year C+)
Relations with the Middle East/North Africa: C+ (not applicable)
Relations with the US: B- (B-)
Relations with Russia: C+ (C+)
Relations with Wider Europe: C+ (C+)
Multilateral issues and crisis management: B (B+/B-)
Appendix 2: The best and the worst
Trade liberalisation with Russia: A- (16/20)
Relations with the US on Iran and proliferation: A-
Climate change: A-
(Last year 8 components achieved a score of A or A-)
Rule of law and human rights in China: D+ (5/20)
Relations with China on the Dalai Lama and Tibet: D+
Bilateral relations with Turkey: D+
Relations with Turkey on the Cyprus question: D+
(These four components also all received D+ grades last year)
Appendix 3: ‘Leaders’ and ‘Slackers’
Leaders: Germany (on 19 components), France (18), UK (17), Sweden (11), Poland (8)
Slackers: Cyprus & Greece (7 each); Italy & Netherlands (6); France, Poland, Romania, Spain (5)
Appendix 4: The authors are grateful to the members of an experienced steering group that provided advice and guidance during the compilation of the Scorecard. The steering group comprised of Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Antonio Vitorino (co-chairs), Lluis Bassets, Charles Clarke, Marta Dassu, Karin Forseke, Teresa Gouveia, Heather Grabbe, Jean-Marie Guehenno, Istvan Gyamarti, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Wolfgang Ischinger, Sylvie Kauffmann, Gerald Knaus, Nils Muiznieks, Kalypso Nicolaidis, Ruprecht Polenz, Albert Rohan, Nicolo Russo Perez, Aleksander Smolar, Paweł Swieboda and Teija Tiilikainen.
The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.