with Sven Biscop, Egmont Royal Institute of International Relations,
Munk Centre for Internatonal Studies, Toronto
February 4, 2008
Presented by the University of Toronto Institute of European Studies,
with funding provided by the European Commission,
and the G8 Research Group
Report by Jenilee Guebert, Senior Researcher, G8 Research Group
See also: The ABC of European Union Strategy: Ambition, Benchmark, Culture
On February 4, 2008 Sven Biscop came to the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto to talk about 'The European Union and the European Security Strategy: Forging a Global Europe.' The G8 Research Group was proud to co-host the event, and even happier to have the opportunity to take-in the information Biscop was willing to share. His discussion focused on the European Security Strategy and Global Public Goods (GPGs), which are considered universal entitlements-that is everyone should have access to them. In Biscop's view GPGs can be broken down into four areas: 1) Physical Security, 2) Economic Prosperity, 3) Political Security [including dimensions such as democracy], and 4) Human Security [including dimensions such as access to health care]. These four dimensions should to be part of everything that European Union (EU) embarks upon, including in its Security Strategy, and they should all be equally addressed-no one area should dominate. The European Security Strategy includes all of these components, or at least that is the intention. And as Biscop pointed out, they are all interconnected, and therefore having one without another is not only problematic, but arguably impossible.
Biscop pointed out five main priority fields that need to be addressed within the European Security Strategy: the military subdimension, bilateral relations, the holistic strategy approach, relations with strategic partners and more specifically relations with the United States as a strategic partner. With the first of these priority fields, the military subdimension, Biscop suggested that the EU countries simply need to pool capabilities and assets. Problems arise when national priorities trump collective ones, and not only is it ineffective, but it costs much more too. The second priority field, bilateral relations, becomes problematic when GPGs are ignored. For instance, the EU will overlook human-rights issues occurring in non-member states in order to forge a relationship that has benefits in other areas. Therefore, the EU simply needs to pay more attention to all of the GPG dimensions, thereby setting a precedent to non-members of the kind of qualities they need to possess if they truly want to forge a partnership with the EU. In terms of the problems with the holistic strategy, Biscop noted that the idea is great, but it has yet to be put into practice. Everything needs to be brought together in the end, so that everyone is aware of what is going on and duplication is eliminated. EU members and the entire EU system need to make the idea of the 'holistic strategy' a reality. Relations with strategic partners such as China, India, Russia, Canada and Japan, need to encompass all four dimensions of GPGs. There needs to be both a bottom-up and a top-down approach to the cooperation so that the security strategy can become a reality in all areas of the globe. And lastly, the EU's strategic partnership with the United States needs to be strengthened. This involves strengthening the relationship between NATO and the U.S. as well as having more flexibility between NATO and the EU-they need to work together and in harmony.
Therefore, while Biscop pointed out that there are indeed a number of problems with the current European Security Strategy, there also appear to be solutions to address them. The Strategy does not need to be thrown out or rewritten, as some have suggested. It simply needs to be gone over in a comprehensive way and corrected in the areas where necessary. And as Biscop was quick to note, it is not the actual strategy itself that is so problematic, but the lack of its implementation that has been most hindering.