European Council on Foreign Relations grades European countries on their foreign policy. The exercise was started in 2010 and latest rankings/gradings for 2011 were issued recently. There was a summary of the findings on the Brookings website .
The latest study shows how the crisis has worsened Europ’s relations with other countries as well. Europe at some time was seen as a international problem solver and now has become an international problem by itself:
2011 may come to be seen as a turning point for the European Union. As its leaders failed to reassure the rest of the world about the sustainability of their common currency and the future of the European project, the continent seemed to be losing its agency: where it was once seen as a critical part of the solution to international problems, it has now become a problem to be dealt with by others. In spite of some foreign-policy successes such as Libya and the deal on climate change in Durban, the euro crisis seriously constrained Europe’s ability to react to the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa – arguably the most important geopolitical event in its neighborhood since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the introduction to last year’s Scorecard, we wrote that Europe was distracted by the crisis. This year, Europe was diminished by it. It remains to be seen whether 2011 will turn out to be a decisive moment in the long-term decline of the EU or the beginning of a fight back.
Based on this, Foreign Policy scorecard shows little progress compared to 2010:
Against this background, there was little progress in developing the much-vaunted “strategic partnerships” with the world’s new powers. Last year, we wrote that the EU was beginning to develop a new approach to China based on reciprocity, but this risked being undermined by member states’ bilateral tendencies. The cancellation of the EU–China summit in November looked like a symbol of a strengthening of these tendencies in 2011. Cash-strapped member states sought investment rather than a share of the Chinese market and even the big three prioritized their own business deals with China and left the difficult job of developing a joint approach to China to the EU institutions. Europeans had some successes with China – for example, its acquiescence to military action against Libya and to action on climate change – but these pale in comparison to the significance of the shift in the balance of power that took place in 2011.
While it is impossible to quantify the decrease of Europe’s soft power that accompanied this loss of standing in international relations, there is little doubt that, by the end of 2011, it had become significantly less attractive as a model of governance for the rest of the world than it was even a year before. The long-term evolution towards shared sovereignty in the form of “ever greater union” that began with the European project in the 1950s seemed to have stalled – and perhaps even reversed – as member states pursued their own narrowly defined national interests.As a continent that once stood for prosperity and generous social compacts now looked to be heading towards a decade of austerity.
There were some gains in Arab awakening states like Egypt and Tunisia where Europe tried to support political transitions in these countries. But then because of their own crisis the promises have not been delivered.
Then Europe is struggling to prevent becoming a German Europe with Germany emerging as the only country escaping the crisis. But even in Germany the things are complex as Merkel does not enjoy the majority in her country. So the solutions coming from Germany have been confused and muted.
Well, I have a very limited understanding about foreign policy, so cannot comment anything about the study and leave it to the readers.
However, an interesting linkage of the economic crisis to foreign policy..