Perceived commonalities on EU vision and values on foreign policy are not always there in reality, and can be quickly diluted by divergent national interests, Pat Cox (former President of the European Parliament) said this morning (8 June).
Speaking at a DCU Brexit Institute webinar on solidarity, identity and populism in the EU, Cox said there have been “embarrassing incidents” where some EU “awkward squad refuseniks” have blocked strong policy consensus from emerging on human-rights violations in China.
“Desirable EU-Russian foreign policy would be very different in Berlin, Paris and Rome, as compared with Warsaw, Tallinn, Riga or Vilnius,” he said.
No appetite for change
“The incremental mutualisation of EU foreign policy would require a parallel de-emphasis of the bilateral preferences of numerous member-state capitals who, frankly, show little or no appetite for such change at this time,” he said.
Cox said the lessons of the EU's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis were mixed, but essentially positive.
The unilateral closing of borders disrupted freight flows of essential supplies. The creation of so-called ‘green lanes’ proved the worth of common action, he said.
But the collective purchase of vaccinations proved more challenging, since it fell outside the commission’s traditional sphere of competence.
The alternative of a beggar-my-neighbour bidding war would have differentiated richer from poorer states, and added a justified source of grievance, he said.