Strategic autonomy has long been a recurring refrain for advocates of a more forceful European Union on the global stage. Upon taking office in December 2019, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that hers would be a “geopolitical commission.” The sense of urgency has only grown since then. Ongoing tensions with Russia over its role in Eastern Europe and new ones with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean have called attention to the threats the EU faces in its own neighborhood. Managing strained ties with the United States and defining the new terms of relations with the post-Brexit United Kingdom have called into question long-standing partnerships. And a fast-emerging reassessment of the challenge posed by China has underscored the importance of the EU becoming a rule-maker, not a rule-taker in the shifting world order.
In today’s big picture Trend Lines interview, WPR editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein is joined by Carl Bildt to discuss these and other challenges facing the EU, as well as the obstacles to its efforts to become a more assertive actor, both in its neighborhood and beyond. Mr. Bildt is a former prime minister and foreign minister of Sweden. During his career as an international diplomat, he also served as the EU’s special envoy to the former Yugoslavia and high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the U.N. special envoy for the Balkans, and the co-chair of the Dayton Peace Conference. He is currently co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Click here to read the full transcript of the interview.
Relevant Articles on WPR:
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
NATO at 70: Toward European Strategic Responsibility
From Naive to Realist? The EU’s Struggles With China
Trend Lines is produced and 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.
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