J. Ignacio Torreblanca
I used to say that Enlargement is the most effective foreign policy tool the EU has at its disposal. But I am wrong: enlargement is the only foreign policy tool the EU has at its disposal. Where our neighbors can be offered and /or care for EU membership, we are almighty: we can moderate Islamist forces, send the army back to barracks and have anti-torture legislation adopted (Turkey); enforce international law on war crimes (Croatia); peacefully manage secession processes (Montenegro); support democratic transitions to democracy (Ukraine); fight corruption and organized crime (Bulgaria) and impose decent child-care standards (Romania). But where our neighbors care nothing about membership, our incentives seem not to be enough, thus making us look helpless: dictators laugh about us (Byelorrusia); war criminals hide (Serbia);and, in general, autocracy prevails (Egypt, Tunisia etc.).
So, the problem with EU foreign policy is that it is binary, i.e., it has only two values: “0″ and “1″. “0″ stands for Neighborhood Policy. From the shores of Latin America to the sands of Darfur, the snowed pine trees of Byelorussia and the beautiful shores of the Mediterranean, few states really care about the EU. We should do better, after all, our incentives are not that bad: trade, aid, foreign investment … but as we don´t coordinate and have different geographical preferences, weak institutions and different views of the world, we don´t make much out of it. As enlargement is the only positive value of this binary variable called EU foreign policy, it is no wonder that we are tempted to solved all problems by way of a “membership-if-and-when-you-behave” foreign policy. That we did to support the Greeks during the Colonels regime, to moderate the more marxists elements of the Carnations Revolution and to stop us, the Spaniards, from killing each other once again. As it worked, we decided to do the same to prevent white Bolshevism in Central and Eastern Europe, sustain democracies and market reforms and contain the spread of ethnic cleansing. And again we were successful. And where we failed, such as in Yugoslavia, 200.000 deaths and the shame of Srebenica give good testimony of what can happen when the membership incentive does not work. Thus, the European integration process, which started picking up the pieces of German nationalism, might end its adventure picking up the pieces of Serbian nationalism, which by no coincidence ignited Europe back in 1914. May the European XXth century, once described as the “Long Civil War” close in 2014, a hundred years after with Serbian accession to the EU? Many of us see this way.
The problem arises when candidates become members and EU foreign policy becomes EU constitutional politics. The question then becomes what the candidates do to the EU, to its institutions, to its budget, not what the EU does to the candidates. What I propose is that in our discussion we separate both or, at least, if we mix them, do it consciously. Many people argue that we cannot admit new members, say, because of the voting system, the agricultural policy or the budget; but voting systems, budget and policies are means, not ends which have to be preserved at all costs. So, our discussion about new members has to be about the ends of European integration and the means to achieve and sustain them, which should follow, not precede.
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