The turn of the 21st century has brought with it an emerging multi-polarity in the international system whereby multiple centers of power, or ‘poles’ axis, Debate prevails over the EU’s particular classification as a ‘pole’ in today’s multi-polar system. Power of EU can be understood by analyzing its ability to exert influence, shape, set global policies across various dimensions such as political, economic, security, regulatory etc. The EU’s multidimensional power in the wake of other emerging markets such as China, India have been analysed below.
1) Security and defense power:
a) EU’s capacity to supply “hard” security beyond the borders of its member states has barely increased. Except in the mission to combat marine piracy off the Horn of Africa, where pirates’ attacks dropped by 95 % in the two years to 2013.
b) The refugee crisis, which saw 1.2 million people coming to Europe in 2015, has led to a contentious debate among the Member States and fueled a broader questioning of the future of border management and free movement within Europe.
c) The EU seldom had a decisive and positive influence on the outcome of security crises in its neighborhood. It was side-lined when an Anglo French-led, US-backed “coalition of the willing” overthrew the Gaddafi regime in Libya and had “little political influence” there afterwards.
d) In Egypt it tried but failed to broker a deal between the military and a Muslim Brotherhood president, as it found itself out manoeuvre diplomatically by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
e) In the Syrian civil war, it was but a “fringe player” and not a mainstream decision maker or action taker.
f) EU heavily relies on West for its security and avoids any international decision making which would hurt interest of the US.
g) Real European defence spending fell by 10 % between 2005 and 2010 and was declined a further 10 % by 2013. It further decline in 2015 by 0.4% compare to previous year.
h) Its capacity to provide hard security was also undermined by the deep divisions that security crises provoked among the member states, whether over Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2012 or Syria.
i) The EU’s capacity to affect the outcomes of defense and security conflicts may not depend entirely, of course, on its military strike power. It used “accession card” while mediating in Kosovo and Serbia conflict by understanding Serbian government’s EU membership aspirations. However, E U cannot wield the “accession card”everywhere, its power is much more limited in security and defence arena.
j) EU proved impotent in the face of Russia’s annexation of Crimea by military force.
k) In its relations with North African and Middle Eastern states, it has prioritized stability over democracy. Its response to the Arab Spring was “weak”. It has been criticized on the grounds that €1bn in development aid to Egypt had “done little to achieve its aims of improving democracy and human rights”
l) EU’s campaign to ban death penalty has been opposed by many nations including US and India. EU may have contributed to this process of Human rights; its role was not decisive.
m) Over the last 20 years, it has been unable to establish a coherent policy for Turkey, and its migration policy is highly controversial.
n) European integration is said to have been a prerequisite for peace and stability in Europe itself, and for its own development and prosperity. inward gaze makes them substantially less appealing in the eyes of their neighbors (the Mediterranean states) and also less appealing for those African states strongly connected to Europe and are in search of new partners (those new partners now including China, India, Brazil, etc.) In even more distant countries, Europe has an economic presence (for example, Germany as an investor and exporter) but has no significant political influence due to its inability to take on a “non-European perspective.”
2) Regulatory Power:
Despite its economic and political struggles, the European Union exerts considerable influence over worldwide markets through its regulatory and legal framework.
a) Is an area in which the EU has expressed its objective to be a world power. The ‘single market’ according to EU gives it “potential to shape global norms”. Encouraging other countries to adopt European standards and norms in multi- and bilateral negotiations.
b) Regulatory policies relating to chemical safety, vehicle safety, pollution are being shaped by EU and followed globally. Many scholars described this as a process of “unilateral regulatory globalization.”
c) It is an area in which the EU’s power has been growing and it could be rated as the world’s dominant power. The EU’s regulatory leadership is a function primarily of the size of its market (500million citizens), the world’s largest, which is underpinned by its relative per capita wealth. It has been bolstered by closer political integration notably on regulatory issues which has facilitated the adoption of common EU standards, and its gradual enlargement -from 12 member states in the mid-1980s to 27 giving it better bargaining power to formulate global norms.
3) Environmental politics:
a) EU has played a central role in climate change politics. It played a dominant role in 1997 in formation. Kyoto Protocol treaty designed to curb worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. This was now adopted by more than 160 states.
b) Since then, however, the EU’s role as a world “green power” has diminished. Copenhagen Summit (2009) Failed to produce an agreement binding its signatories while China, India, Brazil had impacted the conference more than Europe.
c) Preoccupation with the post-2008 financial and economic crisis, having lowered its environmental policy objectives. The diffusion of EU climate change policy norms to large countries such as China and India is limited and conditional upon their congruency with domestic political priorities.
4) External trade power:
a) Despite its market size, multilateral international trade negotiations over the last 25 years points to a diminution of the EU’s world power.
b) Uruguay Round (1986-1993) that resulted in the formation of WTO had EU and US influence. But since 21st Century in Doha Round has exhibited a very different pattern of trade policy cleavage. It was clearly fight between developed and developing world. Developing countries led by Brazil, India, China and South Africa, were “conscious of their growing power and unhappy with the deal on offer by Developed EU and US and started bargaining better than EU for incentives and specifically in the area of agriculture industry protection. The old bipolar distribution of power in international trade politics has been replaced by a multi-polar one in which the EU’s role and power are more limited.
5) Monetary and fiscal power:
a) The euro, however, has so far failed to pose a serious challenge to the primacy of the dollar. And as a ‘world currency’. It remain a “second-tier, regional currency”, important for Europe and its immediate neighborhood but not wider a field.
b) Due to economic crisis Many EU countries seek IMF loans as part of larger rescue packages. Due to indebtness and incapacity of repay states turned to IMF for bailout package. Up to 2013, the IMF had contributed about 1/3rd of the aid provided to bail out Greece, Portugal and Ireland. In April 15, 2013, some 62% of the IMF’s financial commitments were to European countries. Its ability to bargain within EU is also fading. It could not stop UK from exit.
c) The EU’s partial dependence on the IMF to bail out some of its crisis-stricken member states created hitherto non-existent scope for external states to influence Eurozone monetary and fiscal policies. This dependence, despite its being moderated by the EU member states’ strong representation in the IMF’s decision-making organs, threatened to give non-European governments increasing power over economic policy choices in the Eurozone, reducing power of EU to take monetary actions within its own zone.
Emerging regional powers:
a) Europe remains the world’s largest economic area with an approximate 22% share of the global GDP. However share has decline from 26% in 2004 also its share to world population has reduced from 11% in 1960 to 6% in 2015. EU’s growth rates are on average lower than those of the regional powers
b) Per capita income and average productivity are far higher than those of China, India, Brazil or Russia. However, Europeans will be the oldest in the world by 2030. This population ageing problem may affect productivity in future.
c) Nowadays, declining productivity, weak growth, structural unemployment, lack of flexibility in the employment market, demographic decline and insufficient immigration are characteristic of the EU. Supplemented by a very high deficit and political crises within several countries (e.g. Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Belgium, UK).
d) Power is predominantly shifting towards Asia and generating a significant increase of South–South cooperation. Many governments are turning away from the US and the EU toward the regional powers, new centers with global influence, in particular China, India and Brazil; other states such as Turkey, South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia also play a role.
e) By 2030, Asia will overtake the United States and Europe in terms of GDP, population size, military spending and technological investment. China alone is expected to reach 19.8% of global GDP by then, in contrast to Europe which will sink to 14.6% .
f) Above-average growth characteristically prevails in these states. China and India have been growing at an average of 10% for the last 30 years while the EU and the US at less than 6%. The average growth of the GNP of most regional powers is significantly higher than that of the EU. ex-China 10%, India 6%, EU-3%. In China and India, industrial value added is growing at above-average rates China 11%, India 7.5% EU 1.8%. The world economy is no longer led by the OECD but by regional powers.
g) Brazil, China and India exert influence not only on a regional but also on a global level, owing to the fact that the G20’s importance. Regional actors are increasingly playing a role in shaping global governance (e.g. climate, energy, world currency, WTO, IMF). An increase of intra-regional trade and direct investments on their part contributes to more profound exchange and integration. Their institutional alliances such as AIIB, NDB add up to their strength.
h) At the same time, however, the aforementioned nations are too weak because they – despite strong economic growth – are unable to eradicate poverty in their own countries, and an extremely imbalanced distribution of income and wealth prevails, resulting in massive social problems. The weak infrastructure, technological underdevelopment, and low levels of education of the majority of the population are characteristic of their economic and social situations. It is obvious what the new regional powers lack: the ability to lead globally. The regional powers have emerged as the new poles in the multipolar economic systems; they are hubs, but predominantly lack soft power.
i) Europe is increasingly marginal to the strategic calculations of both the US and the rising Asian powers. As China and India continue to rise, they will be competing with each other for regional influence and with the US – not with the EU – for international standing. Europe is seldom taken into consideration by Asian powers.
To conclude, A regional leadership gap, along with global and regional governance gaps, is already spreading.EU is a major economic power. It is an effective trade power but slowly losing its ability to shape the international environment. At the same time it is successful in setting the global agenda for regulatory policies. EU was never a major global defence power. It relies more on US to address global political /defence related concerns. It is apparent that regional powers are catching up and that this process will also galvanise due to American and European investors wanting to participate in the growing markets with trade and investments. EU is relatively weak in the areas of military, diplomacy and foreign policy, as well as business-network policies and civil society activities, and is even unable to bring its political and economic weight to bear in the neighboring countries. EU will have to learn to act and solve global problems with the regional powers in the context of a mutual (not a unilateral, one-sided) discourse on global obligations. This is absolutely essential for the successful reduction of the looming global and regional governance gaps.
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