The eastern and southern crises mentioned in the article are the threats formed in the Middle East and Russia, respectively. According to the authors, each of these threats poses a significant challenge for European interests. The southern crisis results primarily from increasing political and social turbulence in the Middle East. The ongoing conflicts in the region, combined with the emergence and strengthening of ISIS have disrupted the stability in the area and introduced a number of internal and external threats.
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The situation is further complicated by the shift of political balance resulting from the implosion of several major countries. The authors recommend encouraging local actors to take responsibility for their actions, with a de-escalatory approach in the short term. The Russian issue can be traced to several origins. First, the situation is influenced by the worldview of Russia’s current leader, Vladimir Putin, who adopts his own interpretation of the interactions with the West in governance. Second, the lack of democratic legitimacy resulting from the absence of freedom of elections prompts the government to seek alternative sources of legitimacy.
The authors argue that this objective is resolved by introducing an emotional component – specifically, “by mobilizing the population against an enemy – real or imagined, internal or external” (Dennison et al. 2). Third, it is possible to consider that Russia’s current oligarchic economic model plays at least some role in the issue. The necessity to manifest itself as an influential player on a global scale requires the manifestation on every conceivable level, including the domination over neighboring countries.
The authors also point to the fact that the described perception has endured a change of regime in the past and argues that such resilience can be undermined only as a result of a fundamental re-evaluation of priorities in Russia. The situation is further aggravated by the existence of tensions between Russia and some of the members of the EU Eastern Partnership. The determination of these countries to improve governance has been met with approval and support from the EU and an understandable resistance on the part of Russia.
The authors recommend developing a dual approach termed “tough love” (Dennison et al. 2). On the one hand, the EU should provide support in terms of additional security of Russia’s borders and assist the country’s economic independence by establishing market access. On the other hand, sanctions should be applied to account for risks in the short term.
The creation of an intergovernmental conference organized by the EU member states is crucial for putting it back on the global political map primarily because of the extreme diversity of approaches devised for tackling the identified crises by different countries. At the time of the publication of the article, several such approaches were outlined by the member states, with each taking into account specific foreign policy considerations.
Understandably, such foreign policies are incompatible and cannot be meaningfully unified into a single concept. In addition, the growing concern with the complex immigration issue has created strong support for anti-EU sentiment, further undermining the solidity of the effort. Under such conditions, the proposed intergovernmental conference would allow summarizing the priorities of different member states.
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Once a comprehensive picture is obtained, it will be possible for the review team to identify interests common to all participants and arrive at a mutually satisfying solution. Such a strategy has been successfully implemented in the past, specifically during the 2014 collective effort to adopt sanctions on Russia using a unified foreign policy at the expense of domestic resources. It should be pointed that in order for such a conference to be successful, strong institutional mechanisms need to be developed that would ensure that the unit is maintained consistently. In this way, the responsibility for the foreign policy’s success will be distributed evenly across the participants without putting leading players at a higher risk.
In order to account for possible discrepancies within the described unified approach, the authors recommend the use of variable geometry. The idea behind the concept is the creation of coalitions in which more than one actor demonstrates the determination and capacity for assuming a leading position (Dennison et al. 6). The important thing to understand about the variable geometry approach is the low probability of its effective facilitation based on a non-generalizable solution.
A recent collapse in Libya can be considered a good illustration of the concept. Despite the evident instability in the state and surrounding region, the majority of the EU members have assumed that someone would take responsibility for the collective response. Eventually, none of the actors has taken the lead, resulting in major adverse effects in the form of ISIS expansion and a dramatic increase in immigration. The variable geometry approach is expected to eliminate the possibility of such a scenario by introducing ground rules for participation in the response.
Dennison, S., et al. “The Road Back to European Power.” ECFR, 2015. Web.