Time to grow up: what Obama’s re-election means for Europe

Europe needs to take more responsibility in its neighbourhood

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Although most Europeans were relieved at the re-election of Barack Obama, in his second term he is even less likely to be the partner that Europeans wish for, as he cuts the cost of US foreign policy and continues the ‘pivot’ to Asia.

This means that Europe will have to take more responsibility for sorting out problems in their own back yard: reaching out to neighbours like Turkey and Russia on security issues; engaging with the Syrian opposition; finding constructive ways to deal with Iran; and supporting new democracies in North Africa. A serious strategic debate in Europe is now essential.

In ECFR’s new policy memo – ‘Time to grow up: what Obama’s re-election means for Europe’ – nine ECFR experts examine the foreign policy implications of Obama’s second term and the implications for Europe. Among the recommendations are:

  • The EU should not wait before engaging with credible opposition forces in Syria. Europe needs to be a dynamic diplomatic actor, rather than waiting on the side lines for the US to lead.
  • Europe needs to take the lead on Iran, pushing back against military options and buying time through the use of sanctions relief as a bargaining tool.
  • Europe should demonstrate that it is playing its part in response to developments in the Middle East/North Africa region, showing that it has a constructive role to play in the region and is a credible foreign policy actor in its own neighbourhood.

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.

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