Europe’s place in tomorrow’s world

Europe's place in tomorrow's world

How can European Union leaders boost the long-term security and prosperity of EU members while advancing a European vision for the future in an era of intensifying rivalry between the US and China? That's a subject of hot debate inside the EU these days.


Should Europe…

  • Double down on strengthening traditional transatlantic relations in hopes of containing China's growing power to set new trade and technology rules, and to buttress support for "Western values" of human rights and individual liberty?
  • Engage both newly dysfunctional Washington and ever-more-assertive Beijing?
  • Strengthen Europe's strategic independence from the US and China?

For the moment, the answer looks to be "all of the above."

The EU is clearly hoping that President Biden will boost US-EU relations. As part of his "America First" approach to foreign policy, and warning that US allies take American taxpayers for suckers, former president Donald Trump proved willing to question the value of NATO and to slap tariffs on European steel and aluminum.

It's no surprise then that after Biden's November victory, the European Commission quickly issued a report titled "A new EU-US agenda for global change," which called for greater transatlantic cooperation on trade, digital regulation and data privacy, strengthening NATO, screening foreign (particularly Chinese) investment, and limiting China's ability to set new technology standards.

And yet… As I wrote last Friday, European allies are all too aware that Trump and his defiantly unilateralist approach to traditional US allies remain popular with enough Americans that Europe could face a less friendly face in Washington again very soon. There is also recognition in Europe that China remains strong and resilient — and will continue to offer important commercial opportunities for European companies.

That's why the EU was also quick to sign a major investment deal with China, once Biden's victory persuaded China to offer important last-minute concessions. Beijing wants to avoid a united US-EU break on the expansion of its global influence on trade and tech. While the Biden team hoped Europe would hold off on the agreement, EU officials saw it differently and were willing to set aside deep concerns about China's recent push to limit democracy in Hong Kong and its use of Uighur Muslim slave labor in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Germany's Angela Merkel has publicly rejected calls to contain China in favor of pragmatic engagement.

But change is coming to Europe. Merkel will soon exit the stage, and France's Emmanuel Macron will become, at least temporarily, Europe's most prominent voice. And Macron, like many French presidents extending back to Charles de Gaulle, is a forceful champion of European strategic independence. His vision of European "collective security" would give the EU a robust defense capability outside NATO, easing dependence on the US for European security. Macron's recent high-profile debate on the subject with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer underlines his ambition. There are also those who want to strengthen the euro for greater use as an international reserve currency to relieve deep dependence on the dollar.

For now, realism will prevail. Despite decades of differences on important question, the EU has no more powerful military and trade ally than the United States. NATO boosts Europe's security at low cost to European taxpayers. Yet, the commercial opportunities offered by China and Beijing's growing global influence will only expand. Macron will soon be far too distracted by next year's French elections to change skeptical minds on strategic autonomy.

For now, debates within the EU will continue the all-of-the-above approach, but Europe's dilemma isn't going away.

Okuafo Pa means good farmer in the Twi language of West Africa. Hence, the naming of the project reflects the value of good farming and the rewards it brings to the people of Ghana. The Okuafo Pa Project will support Ghana's sustainable development by promoting socio-economic growth and sustainable business models.

Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

After Biden's first visit, do his European allies feel that America is back?

I think they do. Wasn't particularly surprising, we've heard that message before. But now it was, sort of more concrete issues. I'm not certain there was, sort of major, major, major progress. But there was the beginning of a dialogue on trade and technology issues with Europe, clearly on security issues with NATO, and quite a number of other issues with G7, and general satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting with Putin. So, altogether good.

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Listen: Former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder weighs in on US President Joe Biden's first trip abroad, which included a very important first stop at the G7 summit in the United Kingdom, and the way forward for the US and its closest friends. Did he convince allies that "America is back" and ready to resume its leadership role in global affairs? And if so, does it even matter if Americans still need to be convinced that US engagement in the world is vital? Daalder speaks with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent policy developments:

With the Supreme Court's recent decision, is the Affordable Care Act here to stay?

Yes, this was the Court's third ruling on the Affordable Care Act upholding its constitutionality. This challenge was brought by Republican attorneys general who argued that the repeal of the individual mandate tax undermined the court's previous justification for allowing the law to stand. They were unsuccessful, yet again. And the political salience of the Affordable Care Act has really diminished in the last several years, with Republicans moving on to fight other issues and the Court signaling very strongly they don't want to get involved in overturning this piece of legislation. The Affordable Care Act will be here at least until Congress wants to legislate on it again.

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Iranians head to the polls on June 18, in what's widely perceived to be a foregone outcome. Analysts predict that popular disillusionment with Iran's political class will make this one of the lowest turnout elections in Iran's post-revolution history. According to one poll taken by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, as few as 42 percent of the eligible voting population is expected to show up. We take a look at contemporary Iran's demographics, and how this year's vote turnout might compare to previous elections.

Latin America needs vaccines: The World Health Organization has called on the G7 countries that pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses to the developing world to prioritize Latin America, with WHO officials pointing to the fact that out of the top 10 countries with the highest COVID death tolls per capita over the past week, nine are in Latin America, where many health systems are overstretched and vaccines are scarce. This call comes as Latin America's COVID death toll has surpassed 1 million. Cases and deaths are soaring in Argentina and Colombia, for instance, while Brazil has fully vaccinated just 11 percent of its population despite recording the world's second highest death toll. Even Chile, which has carried out Latin America's most successful vaccination campaign to date, has been forced to delay reopening due to a recent surge in infections among unvaccinated younger people. The WHO says prioritizing the region for vaccine donations makes sense in order to stop large sustained outbreaks that may spur potentially more infectious COVID variants that'll cross borders and wreak havoc in populous states. Most of the donated shots will be distributed through the COVAX facility, which is a problem for countries like Venezuela, shut out from COVAX because of payment problems.

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3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars.

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