At the Heart of You and Me and Europe

I höst firar ECOSY - Young European Socialists, 15 år. I samband med det ger vi ut en bok om ECOSY, Europa och socialdemokratiska utmaningar. Den text jag blev ombedd att skriva till boken - om europeisk utrikespolitik - finns nedan.

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At the Heart of You and Me and Europe
European Foreign Policy: Another World Is Possible!

“Changes and reforms must be decided, understood and urged, as necessities and common tasks by fellow-comrades in solidarity” Willy Brandt wrote in September 25 years ago in a letter to Olof Palme and Bruno Kreisky.* Today, 2007, change seems to have become status quo for quite some time now, both in Europe and international society. The world is far more different from the one during the times of Willy Brandt. Many things are much better, a lot thanks to the changes and reforms urged by himself, Palme, Kreisky and other fellow-comrades. The world of 2037 will also, for sure, be different from the one today. Our role – as socialists and social democrats – is to urge for new changes that improve our common international society. One of these changes must be a reformed European Foreign Policy.

Three questions
However, before approaching the subject of the future European Foreign Policy there is first a need to at least pose – if not answering – three questions. The first concerns the definition of “European” and “Europe”. What do we mean? Who does it include? How do we define it? The second question is of the same nature but instead putting “Foreign Policy” under examination. How is this expression understood in a European context? These two questions are at a minimum part of a semantic discussion, but should rather be considered as ontological matters closely related to the very nature of the European Union and therefore also to the Union’s abilities as such. The third question is of a different sort, nevertheless still necessary to pose in order to sketch a future European Foreign Policy: What is the social democratic vision of our world? Of our international society? Without such an idea it’s hardly possible to elaborate on EU’s role in order to achieve that vision.

Starting off with the first question brings us to the heart of EU’s existence. While some claim Europe is only about territory others mean it’s instead about values and common perceptions and ideas. Despite the differences of the answers, both leave us with more questions. Which territory? Where does Europe stop? Which values and common perceptions? Where do they come from and what makes an idea “European”?

Transformation of Foreign Policy
Carrying on, it’s likewise difficult to dismantle the expression “Foreign Policy”. Which policies are intended to be foreign affairs? Only fifteen years ago Swedish relations with Greece where considered foreign policy, while today this usually is not the case when both countries are EU members. Is EU policies towards Croatia foreign policy, or rather internal policies in order to make a natural enlargement of the EU to a country belonging to Europe? What about EU’s policies towards Belarus? Or Turkey? Or Israel that participates in the Eurovision Song Contest? Where is the line drawn that shows us that European Foreign Policy starts and domestic policies end? However, the discussion about the definition of Foreign Policy doesn’t end with the question of boarders. It continues with the development of the content of foreign policy. A policy field that now contains more sectors than ever. The original foreign policy domain, usually characterized by for instance participation in international organisations, diplomacy, international aid and defence policies, has now been broadened like never before. Homeland security, domestic labour market regulations and national environment, are some examples of policy areas subjected to what is happening on the global arena, and therefore starting to become new sectors of an increasingly enlarged foreign policy domain. In short, the development often referred to as globalisation has posed new challenges to many policy fields. Foreign policy being one of them.

A new Europe?
Since the end of the Cold War the European arena has changed forms and expressions. While some states have disappeared others have been born. Some boarders have become more apparent and others have faded away. The underlying reasons explaining the development depend on who is asked, however many seem to agree on the point that Europe is now undergoing a serious reformulation of its structure and behaviour. Some scholars compare these transformation with the times of the Thirty Years’ War 1618-1648 that ended with the Peace in Westphalia that is claimed to have brought Europe from one system of organising power between masters, to another, and which gave birth to the Westphalian state system. A system still alive today in our conception of what a state is and should be. The conclusion might therefore be, that in a 30 years’ period, this post-modern transformation can be over. In the year 2037, we then might live in another European system different from the one that arose with the Westphalian Peace. A development that most probably also leaves us with another perception of what European Foreign Policy is, fundamentally different from the one we knew during the twentieth century.

Navigation with the help of values
The world might be changing but our social democratic values remain the same. Timeless and just are the values of social democracy helping us to navigate through an ever changing world. It brings us to the third question posed in the beginning of the text: What is the social democratic vision of our world? In our vision of a fair world is the human being in the centre. Her right to emancipation and freedom, no matter who she is, is the goal of social democracy. No matter of sex, origin, size of the wallet, parents or anything else, the human being has the right to food, freedom of expression, decent work and much more. Everything in order for each human being to live a good life, enabling her emancipation. All human beings have the same rights. Freedom and equality are both dependent upon each another as well as delivering one another. Neither of them is in social democratic terms possible if the other one is missing. Solidarity comes from our beliefs in each another, and the conviction that freedom and equality requires joint struggle. Democracy is the self-evident consequence of putting the human being at the centre in an ideological framework built on freedom, equality and solidarity. However, democracy must permeate all spheres of society. For us as social democrats there is therefore a need of political democracy as well as social, economic and cultural democracy. Naturally much more can be written about this, however it is clear that our values have no limits. No boarders or frontiers. They apply to all human beings, all over the world and in all times. No matter what.

Challenges for a future European Foreign Policy
These values must guide all social democratic policy making, naturally also the one of European Foreign Policy. In the light of the questions outlined above, concerning the definition of Europe and Foreign policy as well as the discussion about the social democratic vision of the world, three major challenges are discerned:

1. Need of Coherence and Co-ordination
Today’s European Foreign Policy is rather diffuse and unclear. It stretches in the old European Union pillar system from the first pillar’s External Relations, concerning among other things trade agreements with third country, over the second pillar’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), including the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), then moving to the third pillar’s Justice and Home Affairs that to the highest possible degree concerns contemporary foreign policy since it includes the increasingly developing common strategies against terrorist, illegal migration and international crime. In sum, the European Union’s Foreign Policy is difficult to get a grip on. And add to this that all the different member states still have bilateral foreign policies towards countries outside the union. With improved coherence and co-ordination the Union’s foreign policy would become stronger and give more affect. International aid is one area where this could make substantial difference since EU is the largest aid donor in the world, better coherence would be an important tool to make this better and more effective. Besides this EU must also develop a well functioning coherence between its civil and military crises management capacities in order to enable flexible and quick responses, in Europe and beyond.

There is also an urgent need to achieve coherence and co-ordination concerning matters related to what in the present system is considered internal respectively external affairs. In contemporary international society, there is no such divide. When considering our fundamental social democratic values, such a division exists even less. All policy areas must consider the international society and our common world. Traditional foreign policy domains as well as less traditional, such as the ones of education, logistics and housing construction.

Some steps to enable better coherence and co-ordination is taken by the new Reform Treaty agreed by the European leaders in Portugal just recently. Good examples are the Solidarity Clause (Article 188r) and the invention of a High Representative of Common Foreign and Security Policy, placed both in the Commission and in the Council. However, in a constitutional context further developments will be needed.

2. Focus on Peace, Human Rights and Democracy
The European Foreign Policy – from a social democratic point of view – should be more focused on supporting peace, human rights and democracy. The EU must therefore work harder to strengthen and develop international law. Both the UN, such as increasing the democracy and efficiency of the organisation, the international court system and thus strengthening human rights vis-à-vis states, and other rules concerning the behaviour on the global arena.

The need of better coherence, outlined above, also relates to that EU must better consider all its instruments in order to support peace, human rights and democracy. This especially concerns the EU’s trade policies, both the internal Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the external Association Agreements. Both must be changed since they today underpin poverty, dictatorships and violence of human rights. The EU’s trade policies must be altered in a direction putting the human being at the centre of policy, no matter where the human being lives.

The EU must also be a stronger advocate of human rights and democracy in its diplomatic relations. EU must be a brave voice heard wherever human beings suffer from violence and dictatorships, no matter if the media light is on or not. The European Foreign Policy should also continue to develop its contacts with other regions of the world. The world can only be successfully governed together in the framework of the international society. That requires a European Foreign Policy open to contacts to other parts of the world.

3. Strengthened Transparency and Legitimacy
Without the approval of the people of the EU any European policies are in the long-run deemed to fail. The European Foreign Policy must therefore be more transparent and accomplish better approval of the people in the future. The new Reform Treaty plays an important role here. However, future institutionalisation is needed in order to enable better insight. The EU must also develop its relations with civil society that plays an enormously important role in Europe and abroad to support peace, human rights and democracy.

Another world is possible!
The development of our common EU teaches us that it’s possible to build peace and democracy. Even among hostile neighbours that have been in world wars with each other. It’s not always an easy or quick affair, rather it’s complicated and time consuming. However, it’s successful and efficient since it helps creating a foundation for policies that aim at putting the human being at the very centre. Through step-by-step institutionalism, trust building efforts and cooperation, a peaceful and democratic Europe has taken shape. The same can – and must – be the case for the future of the international society. EU plays a pivotal role to accomplish this, why the union must improve its foreign policy as outlined above. Nevertheless, in order to make EU assign to this task there must be strong advocates for this to happen: This is the role of a progressive and strong social democratic movement at the European level via the Party of European Socialists and its family consisting of ECOSY, the PES Women, trade unions and many more. The EU must be used to support peace, democracy and respect of human rights all over the world. This is our – European socialists’ and social democrats’ –responsibility. Another world is not just a dream. It is possible if we just dare it.

Laila Naraghi
ECOSY vice president

* Briefe und Gespräsche 1972 bis 1975, 1975 by Europäische Verlagsanstalt. In Sweden published at Tidens Förlag 1976.