European Union vs Eurasia: Will the EU survive the new tensions between East and West?
by Come Carpentier de Gourdon on 12 Jul 2014 0 Comment

In the wake of the recent elections to the European Parliament whose results reflect the wave of euro-skepticism sweeping the continent and evince the deep divisions between the member-countries, it is useful to recall that the present European Union is a compromise between at least three very different and potentially opposing visions, inspired by diverse strategic and historical traditions:


-        The “Holy Roman Empire”, centered on Germany and extending eastwards, of which Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of the EU was an exponent


-        The Napoleonic and Gaullist project that envisions French leadership for a Union that would extend “from the Atlantic to the Urals”


-        The Euro-Atlantic association that effectively consecrates the preponderance of the USA and Britain enshrined in NATO and in Churchill’s “union of English-speaking peoples”


Until the breakdown of the USSR and Germany’s reunification, Germany and France managed to combine their respective interests to establish a hybrid between the first and the second concept as France retained the geopolitical initiative. Since 1990 however, the French dream has faded while the “German Empire” has strengthened itself economically by expanding its reach to the East and linking up with Russia in the Bismarckian tradition. On the other hand it has coexisted uneasily with the Atlantic alliance of which it is formally a part.


The dissentions have come to the open in the Ukrainian crisis, promoted by Washington and London, which has forced Germany to try to protect its privileged ties with Russia in the face of heavy pressure from the USA and the United Kingdom, with France caught somewhere in the middle. The Atlantic powers see an advantage in the creation of a new “iron curtain” in Europe which would solidify their hegemony on the “West” against the effective Sino-Russian alliance, active against them on such diverse theaters as Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and even in certain  African conflicts and in Latin America.


Meanwhile, the meteoric rise of China and the rapid decline of the USA have combined with decisive and deft Russian leadership to put the EU under eclipse as it finds it increasingly difficult to salvage a fragile internal consensus, more cosmetic than real, and is unable to free itself from American influence even though Washington’s policies are often detrimental to European commercial, industrial and strategic interests.


The ultra-liberal TISA (Trade and Services Agreement) or Trans-Atlantic partnership now being negotiated in secret* is intended to protect the preponderance of mostly western affluent states from the rise of the rest , especially the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) whose “exclusion will weaken their positions on any future negotiations” (Wikileaks). It will also hurt the majority of Europeans by weakening their welfare systems and opening completely their domestic markets, predictably to the benefit of American and other mega-firms.  In the words of its critics it is intended to assist the expansion of financial multinationals by enforcing the deregulatory strategies they desire.


The trans-Eurasian development corridor project RAZVITIE**, planned between the Pacific and the Atlantic and Mediterranean promoted by Moscow and other Asian powers is being welcomed by various European governments as well – including Germany, Austria and Italy. It complements the various oil and gas pipelines already laid out or being built from Siberia to the EU and will shift the centre of gravity of the world economy eastwards.


Therefore it is seen as a threat by the USA and its closest allies which have used the Ukraine crisis as a pretext to block the construction of the South Stream pipeline and to damage trade relations between the EU and the EURASEC. Yet the latter carries the potential for much enhanced cooperation and trade between East and West by providing direct road and rail routes to the Far East and to Central and South Asia as well as to Iran and other increasingly large and dynamic economies.


A return to the days of the Cold War under the American umbrella is not an attractive option for Europeans and the “common home” from Lisbon to Vladivostok, proposed by De Gaulle, Gorbachev, and Putin, is a far more rational and enlightened alternative. In that larger home, Europe can find a way to retain and increase its prosperity by promoting a process of cross fertilization along the historic Silk Road, with the great civilisational and economic centres of Asia.



*Wikileaks published secret trade services agreement

**Integrated Project of joint development on the Eurasian Continent, VI Yakunin, Presidum of the Russian Academy of Sciences (March 11, 2014)

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