US Intelligence is Pessimistic about Long-Term Outlook for Europe as a Power     Print Email
Friday, 21 November 2008

Europe risks losing political, military, and economic importance in a multi-polar world that will emerge over the next two decades. That view emerges in “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World” a report issued by the National Intelligence Council.

Ironically, European leaders have long called for the emergence of a multi-polar world to replace the U.S. dominance as a “unipolar power in a unipolar moment” just after the cold war’s end.

But the new U.S. report – the latest in a series of foreword-looking “think pieces” published every 4 years by the U.S. intelligence community – says that Europe will become less competitive, not more – because of several weaknesses.

Perceived weaknesses, according to the report, include 1) internal arguing, 2) skeptical public views of the EU and the European Commissions, 3) continued dependence on Russian energy, and, 4) the rise in the roles of “non-state” actors, specifically organized criminal groups.

Eastern European criminal groups in particular, who have benefited handsomely from involvement in energy and minerals, are set to dominate “one or more governments in Eastern or Central Europe”, according to the report. Though no countries were named there are several leading candidates that support this theory with rising organized criminal incidences.

The report emphasizes the decisive role of leadership in the future of the transatlantic relationship between the EU and US. Some issues mentioned are likely to pull the two countries closer – notably the environment and energy. But the two sides are likely to be separated by defense issues and immigration policies. The EU is seen as cutting its defense budget and tiring of support for NATO and the US in wars outside Europe. Overall, Europe is depicted as liable to turn inward, according to Thomas Fingar, Chairman of the NIC. Presenting the report at a Washington think tank, he said….“An EU with substantial cohesion is unlikely and the EU will have less interest in external relations.”

Concerning immigration the EU’s decision to be more receptive toward an immigration policy that deals with the growing shortage of the working age population, as written about prior in European Affairs issue 27, “Despite Rising Immigration EU Still Graying With Pensioners”, will likely be a long and difficult argument. “Continued failure to convince skeptical publics of the benefits of deeper economic, political, and social integration…could leave the EU a hobbled giant distracted by internal bickering and competing national agendas, and less able to translate its economic clout into global influence,” the report says.

The section titled, “Europe: Losing Clout By 2025”, suggests a consensus view among U.S. intelligence agencies sees current trends reducing U.S. dominance and ushering in the “multi-polar world” that European leaders have long sought. The trouble for Europe, however, is that these changes seem unlikely to help Europe emerge in a stronger position because EU member states seem unlikely to replace their internal bickering with united leadership.

Though the report made headlines in the U.S. mentions of the EU were almost entirely absent in the American media reporting on it.

 
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UMD Jean Monnet Research Project

The University of Maryland has received a Jean Monnet grant from the EU to conduct a series of policy exchanges between Europe and the US on filling infrastructure needs and the utility of public/private partnerships as the financing mechanism. If interested in participating in or receiving more information about these exchanges, please contact Rye McKenzie (rmckenzi@umd.edu).

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