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European Union flags outside of EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

‘To Act Alone When Necessary’: Nathalie Tocci on European Strategic Autonomy

Friday, Jan. 8, 2021

If the European Union were a country, it would have the second-largest GDP in the world, ahead of China and just behind the United States. But it has consistently struggled to leverage its economic heft into geopolitical clout, at times due to internal divisions among member states over strategic priorities, but also because of their reluctance to relinquish control over sensitive questions of foreign and defense policy to Brussels. The debate over whether the EU should embrace a global role, how it can do so and what role it should play if it does has taken on greater urgency in the context of an international landscape increasingly characterized by strategic competition, particularly between the U.S. and China, but also on Europe’s periphery—in Ukraine, the Caucasus, Northern Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.

In today’s big picture Trend Lines interview, Dr. Nathalie Tocci joins WPR editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein to discuss Europe’s role in an increasingly multipolar world. Dr. Tocci is the director of the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs and an honorary professor at the University of Tubingen in Germany. She is special adviser to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell. While serving in the same role under Borrell’s predecessor, Federica Mogherini, Dr. Tocci wrote the EU Global Strategy and worked on its implementation. Click here to read a transcript of an excerpt from the interview.

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Relevant Articles on WPR:
For Macron, Being Right on European Strategic Autonomy Isn’t Enough
In a Multipolar World, Will the EU Be Seated at the Table—or Served on It?
Europe Wants ‘Strategic Autonomy,’ but That’s Much Easier Said Than Done
From Naive to Realist? The EU’s Struggles With China

Trend Lines is edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie. You can follow Judah Grunstein on Twitter at @Judah_Grunstein.

To send feedback or questions, email us at podcast@worldpoliticsreview.com.