The American pivot depends on Europe to take care of its neighborhood

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Obama and Ashton - NATO Summit 2012

From Sven Biscop, the New Atlanticist:  Inadvertently or not, the United States is now demanding European strategic autonomy, at least regionally , for its “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific is partially dependent on Europe’s ability to take care of its own business. Henceforth peace and stability in Europe’s neighborhood is first and foremost Europe’s responsibility. . . .

[T]he American pivot implies a less pronounced American role in NATO. Consequently, the eternal EU-NATO debate has lost all meaning, for NATO minus the US push factor simply equals those same internally divided Europeans again. The way to keep NATO viable is to reinforce European ownership of it, which starts with reinforcing the EU.

In a way, the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) is being revived. But where the original 1990s concept saw the ESDI as a mere technical European pillar firmly anchored in and subservient to NATO, today an “ESDI Plus” is needed: anchored outside NATO and receiving its strategic guidance from the EU. Such a European platform already exists: the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). . . .

The Arab Spring, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the struggle for dominance over the Gulf, the frozen conflicts, the Zwischeneuropa of Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine: Europe’s broader neighbourhood is simultaneously one of the world’s most strategic and most volatile. If the EU were to manage to become the stabilizer of its periphery, that would make it far from a peripheral power.

Prof. Dr. Sven Biscop is Director of the Europe in the World Programme at Egmont – The Royal Institute for International Relations (Brussels), and teaches at Ghent University and at the College of Europe (Bruges). He is also a member of the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Advisors Group.  (photo: Getty)