TCS Daily

Europe Gets Strategic

By Craig Winneker - June 24, 2003 12:00 AM

PORTO CARRAS, Greece - You wouldn't know it from the unseasonably cool temperatures in this typically boiling Mediterranean resort, but apparently the world is getting hotter and, consequently, more prone to terrorism.

That's right, it turns out there's a connection between the climate and security, between the Kyoto Protocol and the War on Terror. At least, that's the only conclusion that can be drawn from a bizarre paragraph found lurking in a new EU foreign policy document.

Javier Solana, the former NATO secretary-general and now the EU's top diplomat, presented his paper on new global security challenges to Europe's leaders gathered here this week for one of their quarterly summit meetings. Entitled "A Secure Europe in a Better World", the report serves as a sort of low-calorie version of the White House's recent National Security Strategy paper, in that it outlines a broad vision for security policy and foreign policy. It is a general statement, not a legislative program, but it nevertheless reveals a philosophical mindset and hints at where EU security policy is headed.

In its opening pages, the paper outlines several "New Threats in a New Security Environment". Among them is this previously unknown menace, which apparently one should ignore at one's own peril:

"Although not a threat in the normal strategic sense, the rise in temperatures predicted by most scientists for the next decades is likely to create further turbulence and migratory movements in a number of regions of the world."

It would be easy enough to disregard this statement as a mere sop to environmental lobbyists, who hold considerable sway in Europe and are used to hearing their mantras chanted eagerly by most EU politicians. But coming as it does in a defense policy paper, the statement appears to open up a new front in the climate change war.

And that's not the only shot the document takes at the fossil-fuel industry. "Energy dependence is also a concern," Solana writes. "Europe is the world's largest importer of oil and gas. Imports account for about 50 percent of energy consumption today. This will be 70 percent in 2030. Most energy imports come from the Gulf, Russia and North Africa." Remember, this is portrayed as a potential threat to security, not as an opportunity to promote stability and economic growth.

Still, there is much to commend in the paper -- and indeed in actual EU foreign policy developments over the last couple of weeks -- including a grudging realization that the US is now the world's only superpower.

"The conclusion of the Cold War has left the United States in a dominant position as a military actor; no other country or group of countries comes close to its capability," the paper declares. "Nevertheless, no single country is able to tackle today's complex problems entirely on its own."

And in his conclusions, Solana offers this assessment of the transatlantic relationship: "International cooperation is a necessity. We need to pursue our objectives both through multilateral cooperation in international organizations and through partnerships with other key actors or regions.

"Among the latter, the transatlantic relationship is irreplaceable. Acting together, the European Union and the United States can be a formidable force for good in the world. If we build up capabilities and increase coherence, we will be a more credible actor and a more influential partner."

In recent days Europe has gotten unusually tough on several foreign policy issues. EU foreign ministers agreed on a joint statement that the use of force should not be ruled out in dealing with rogue regimes possessing weapons of mass destruction. That may be a day late and a euro short, but it's noteworthy nevertheless.

They also meted out surprisingly harsh rebukes to Cuba, North Korea and Iran and have hinted that relations with those countries may have to be reconsidered. There's even a new EU-led peacekeeping force in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, the first such European operation to be conducted completely separately from NATO. Remember burden-sharing? Maybe it's finally arrived.

And maybe the Solana paper represents a synthesis of these recent efforts to catch up to the US worldview. At a press conference at the close of the summit EU leaders admitted they have been trying to learn from the past six months of transatlantic tension. "Europe has gone through six months of unpleasantries and has emerged stronger," said George Papandreou, the foreign minister of Greece, which holds the rotating EU presidency and is the summit's host country.

Added Solana at the same briefing, "We want to continue to work in a very strong partnership with the United States."

Now if we could just do something about that persistent Kyoto fever.

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