NEWS | Nov. 4, 2020

12. Whither Europe in a New Era of Great Power Competition? Resilient but Troubled

By Steven Philip Kramer and Irene Kyriakopoulos Strategic Assessment 2020

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This chapter examines Europe’s role and prospects as an important player in the emerging era of Great Power competition. Although the European Union’s (EU’s) share of global economic output is comparable to that of the United States, it is not a Great Power, never realizing some forecasts that it would become a superpower in the post–Cold War world. Instead, the European integration experience has been fraught with challenges. Europe has shown considerable resilience while overcoming the 2008 Great Recession and saving the euro in the face of a serious sovereign debt crisis. However, the EU’s cohesion and solidarity have been severely tested by terrorism, uncontrolled migration, Brexit, and, most recently, the still-evolving complications from the 2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic. Across the continent, these problems have generated extremist populist movements that challenge liberal democracy and inhibit cohesive EU policy positions or security activities. Europe faces a more aggressive Russia, growing Chinese economic and political power, and a lack of trust in the U.S. commitment to the transatlantic union and European common defense. Despite its enormous latent power potential, Europe has become an object of Great Power rivalry on the continent rather than a subject competitor itself. Europe’s responses to its ongoing and potential future challenges will shape its role in the new era of Great Power competition.

Early 20th-century French poet and political philosopher Charles Péguy’s comment that “everything begins with mystique and ends in politics” could be aptly applied to European integration.1 Embarked on just a few years after World War II, with origins in the 1949 Schuman Plan—then the 1951 European Coal and Steel Community, and later the European Economic Community of 1957—European integration was based on the romantic vision of a continent transcending conflict and forming an ever-closer union. Over the years, European integration evolved into a complex and opaque mix of federalism and intergovernmentalism. The crowning organizational jewel of the European integration experiment—the European Union (EU), established by the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht and entered into force in 1993—has struggled yet endured.

The EU never has been greatly beloved by its citizens, who felt they had too little direct say in its governance. Even though it gradually expanded to include parts of the former Soviet bloc in a deepening economic and political union with security and defense cooperation, the EU has rarely preempted crises, has often been slow in reacting to crises, and has struggled to sustain the consent of those it governs. In addition, the EU has never realized the aspirations held out for it by integration optimists: It has not risen—as a whole or in any subgroup—to the status of a Great Power. The EU has never cleaved to the degree necessary to meet the three-feature definition of a Great Power in the post–Cold War world, and thus finds itself an important but lower tier player in the emerging new era of Great Power competition being shaped by the United States, China, and Russia.2 There is also the matter of population size. If demography is destiny, then the prognosis for Europe’s future as a potential Great Power is not good; beneath the lack of dynamism lurk the problems of low birth rates, an aging society, and internal migration. Europe’s population today is about 10 percent of world population; it was about 20 percent in the 18th century. Europe’s place in the world is shrinking.3

Yet the EU—as the experiment of European integration as a whole—has managed to survive with surprising resilience. Despite its shortcomings and problems, the EU has transformed Europe from a region prone to and deeply damaged by war to an area of peaceful cooperation.

The EU enters the 2020s grappling with its challenges and seeking a way forward. In the past 10 years, it has been assailed by a series of internal and external problems: a debt crisis, economic stagnation, Islamist terrorism, uncontrolled migration, and the 2019–2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The first four challenges, together with Brexit, the United Kingdom’s rocky departure from the union, have destabilized liberal democracy across Europe. Geopolitically, the EU is facing a darkened international situation with an assertive Russia, the cohesion of its longstanding transatlantic alliance in doubt, and the problems posed by China’s ascent as a significant economic competitor with growing political and military power.

This chapter examines the challenges facing the EU and traces their implications for the future of Europe. The debt crisis, economic stagnation, terrorism, migration, and the changing security environment are the hallmarks of Europe’s status in 2020 and its path forward to 2025. So, too, is the impact of COVID-19, but that is a legacy yet to unfold.

Legacy of the Financial Crisis

The greatest test to EU resilience since its founding was posed by the effects of the financial turmoil that erupted in the United States in 2008 and precipitated the Great Recession. In the United States, the crisis originated mainly in the private financial sector of the economy. Its transmission to Europe led to a sovereign debt crisis. The EU managed to survive the Great Recession, but the crisis threatened the very existence of the common currency, the euro.

Europe’s leaders were determined to preserve monetary union, even though they lacked traditional macroeconomic policy instruments.4 The Eurozone has a monetary arm—the European Central Bank (ECB)—but lacks a fiscal arm or European treasury; EU treaties do not allow for that. Aware of these limitations, European leaders devised ad hoc solutions to deal with the immediate challenge of the possible default of member states on their sovereign debt. The term Grexit, coined by Citigroup economists, signified the serious risks to the Eurozone if Greece, the weakest member of the Eurozone, defaulted and left the common currency. There was grave concern that such an event would trigger fiscal contagion and loss of confidence in the ECB. To save the euro, the EU took drastic measures that tested all of Europe’s institutions to the limit. Faced with an existential crisis, the EU devised novel policy measures to avert default by Ireland, Portugal, Greece, and later, Cyprus, and to rescue Spain’s banking sector.5

The course the EU pursued from 2010 to 2018, in partnership with the International Monetary Fund, generated controversy that continues to this day. The approach consisted of two types of measures: rescue loans and austerity policies requiring cuts in public spending, tax increases, drastic structural reforms to liberalize labor and product markets; and the creation of a rescue fund of €750 billion. Key ingredients of the program were packaged so as to avoid violations of the EU’s treaty obligations. Specifically, rescue loans for the states were structured to sidestep the no-bailout clause of the Maastricht Treaty.6 A special debt-relief measure was applied to the case of Greece, calling for a 50 percent writeoff of Greek sovereign debt held by banks, hedge funds, and private investors. Another debt-relief measure was a “bail-in” used in the case of Cyprus; it involved special levies on bank deposits of over €100,000 as a condition for Cyprus’s rescue loan.7

The rescue loans imposed high costs on recipient EU states. As a condition for loan disbursement, the affected countries had to legislate and pass a broad set of fiscal and structural austerity measures. These macroeconomic stipulations brought major cuts in public spending and steep tax increases to the people of the recipient states. Recessionary forces exacerbated preexisting economic imbalances, leading to sharp increases in national unemployment and budget deficits. Unemployment rates in the worst affected countries of the EU periphery skyrocketed, reaching over 15 percent in Spain and nearly 25 percent in Greece. The level of indebtedness of Eurozone countries rose from an average of 85 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 to nearly 93 percent of GDP by mid-2014. The ECB committed to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro.8 The ECB has persisted in providing monetary stimulus to the Eurozone economy through 2020. Ten years into the crisis, the euro remains intact.

But Europe’s economy never fully recovered. In 2020, the EU is still dealing with anemic economic growth, and popular dissatisfaction with economic conditions is high. Structural economic reforms in various bailout recipient states, mandated to promote efficiency and competitiveness, brought dramatic transformations to Europe’s economic and social landscape. Rescued states had to impose reductions in welfare benefits, expand part-time work, cut the minimum wage, freeze pay, eliminate bonuses, cut pensions, increase the retirement age, reduce severance and holiday pay, and ease restrictions of firings and layoffs, among other measures. Each of these actions contributed to a steep erosion in how Europe’s social market economy functioned. In combination with fiscal retrenchment, structural reforms reduced living standards across the board and hit the least well-off across Europe especially hard. Increases in poverty, homelessness, and social exclusion, affecting as much as a quarter of the population, were recorded throughout Europe in the wake of the wider financial crisis.

Popular resistance to the effects of strict macroeconomic discipline grew across Europe during the 2010s, with widespread political instability testing the EU’s resilience. Governments that resorted to fiscal contraction and structural economic reforms were voted out of office amid rising social discontent. But political events that were deemed consequential a decade ago seem less relevant in 2020. Victories such as the 2012 election of François Hollande, France’s first socialist president in 17 years, or Greece’s Syriza, a radical left-wing party that became the governing party in 2015, were ephemeral. Ten years after the onset of the debt crisis, the anti-austerity rhetoric has subsided. The return to power of mainstream parties seems to affirm the electorate’s assessment that saving the euro was of paramount importance. Europe’s common currency has maintained its support by a large majority of Eurozone citizens throughout its first two decades, reaching the highest level in 2019, the euro’s 20th birthday.9

Europe’s ability to weather the financial crisis and the Great Recession demonstrated the resilience of its institutions and their adaptability. By 2019, the EU’s economy had recovered to its 2010 level. EU member states’ budget deficits have been nearly eliminated. Unemployment rates have come down; the EU average, nearly 10 percent in 2011, was about 6 percent in 2019.

Even as wages and real per capita income recovered from the Great Recession, the EU debt crisis exacerbated wealth and income inequalities.10 The distribution of the burden of austerity was borne disproportionately by those least able to afford it: the unemployed and the poor across the board and the EU’s member states with the weakest economies. Greece was the worst hit of all; it suffered a recession greater in length and severity than the United States did after the 1929 stock market crash. Yet sovereign default was averted. Rescue programs for Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Cyprus ended in 2017. Even Greece’s bailout program ended in August 2018, while the economy was transitioning to the recovery phase.11 In early 2020, the temporary respite from the worst of the debt crisis seemed likely to pass. There will be serious economic consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic playing across Europe, and it remains to be seen if these consequences will pose another episode of serious trauma for Europe’s economic union.

At the same time, Europe’s recovery from the debt crisis involved a new role for China on the continent—setting the conditions for new triangular relations among Europe, China, and the United States. While most international investors—including those from the United States—fled Europe in the worst days of its debt crisis, China-based companies surged in. Chinese cash flowed directly to some of the hardest hit countries in the EU, including Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. But Chinese investors also moved into reduced-value assets across Europe during the debt challenge, investing heavily in developed European countries such as Germany, France, and especially Great Britain to acquire commercial brands and important technologies. From 2010 to 2012, the stock of Chinese direct investment in the EU quadrupled from a level that was smaller than holdings by Nigeria before 2010 to a main stakeholder by 2013.12 Research into the implication of this prolific investment demonstrates that China has tried to use its economic strength to gain political concessions in Europe but has had limited success.13 Many eyes are now on the issue of 5G Internet in Europe to see if China’s ability to parlay economic presence into political influence holds, or if China’s post–debt crisis economic prowess will lead Europe to a decision that goes against specific U.S. strategic interests to limit Chinese information technology penetration there.14

The Chinese investment surge notwithstanding, the EU’s ability to manage the debt crisis was due to its application of a multiplicity of measures requiring more extensive and deeper fiscal and financial integration, or in the words of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, “More Europe.”15 The European monetary union remains incomplete—lacking a common banking system, a common treasury, and a central fiscal policy, among other features. Still, the actions taken by European decisionmakers to sustain the EU’s most compelling symbol, the euro as a common currency, held its financial status in the international community. The euro emerged from the debt crisis still the second most important currency in the international financial system. In 2020, the euro remains second only to the dollar in the size of its share in global foreign reserves, at 20 percent. The euro’s share of global payments in 2019 was relatively even more impressive, at 33 percent versus the dollar’s share at 45 percent.16 By contrast, the role of China’s and Russia’s currencies in the international financial system remains minimal. The Chinese renminbi has limited convertibility; its share of global foreign exchange reserves is less than 2 percent.17 The Russian ruble is not a reserve currency.

Thus, the most optimistic dream of Europe becoming “the first postmodern superpower” built on the prowess of the largest common market and common currency in the world—a dream with traction during the heady days of the early 21st century—was dealt a serious blow by the debt crisis. The EU did weather the storm with an intact common currency and an enviable global economic standing.18 Europe’s profound investments in salvaging its monetary union from collapse have secured the euro’s key role and Europe’s important position at the international financial “high table.”

The Challenge of Migration

Migration was instrumental in rebuilding Europe in the post–World War II era. To meet the demand for workers, governments of richer and growing northwestern European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland) systematically recruited labor from Europe’s periphery, mostly in the south. Inter-European migration was skills based, legal, and highly controlled, and migrant workers were treated as temporary guests.19

The ongoing migration challenge to the EU’s common market for population flows paralleled the debt crisis but differs from it. In recent years, Europe has become a destination of choice for millions of people trying to escape war, political turmoil, and poverty in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. From 2015 to 2016, nearly 1 million migrants and refugees passed through Greece’s Aegean Islands and mainland toward central and northern Europe. Since 2015, nearly 4 million people have applied for asylum in the EU’s 28 member states. After a temporary pause in 2018, the number of asylum seekers and unlawful entrants has continued to increase. Almost a quarter-million illegal crossings, mainly through sea routes, and illegal stays were detected in 2019.20 The EU has been slow and ineffective in dealing with a new challenge to its border security: uncontrolled population movements through European territory.

The migration crisis has not yet presented an overt threat to the EU, home to more than 500 million inhabitants, but it has the potential to pose a fundamental challenge by sowing discord and weakening solidarity and cohesion, key pillars of European integration. The influx of uninvited people from distant lands and foreign cultures—which peaked in 2015—has generated social, political, and economic pressures in a continent still recuperating from the financial shocks of the Great Recession.

The composition of population inflows changed significantly between 2015 and 2019. Early on, most arrivals were war refugees; by 2019, the majority of arrivals were economic migrants. Thus, the political economy of EU countries near or at its external borders has been destabilized. Regions and communities in frontline states, such as Greece and Italy, were overwhelmed by the asymmetric burden of the migration crisis. In these areas, it felt then and still feels in 2020 as if Europe is indeed under siege and without effective defenses. The rise of nationalist parties across Europe is a symptom of mounting dissatisfaction with the status quo in the prevention, deterrence, and management of illegal migration.21

Politics and geography have contributed to these developments. EU decisionmakers were caught unprepared to deal with chaotic migrant flows in a concerted fashion. Policy paralysis was overtaken by Chancellor Merkel’s open-door policy announcement in 2015, which proved to be a major pull factor to migrants and refugees.22 During the peak of the migration crisis in 2015, hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees arriving at the Greek islands were transported by boat to the mainland, northern Greece, and beyond. Neighboring states sought protection from sudden and massive migrant flows by temporarily blocking entry or closing their borders altogether. More than 80,000 migrants and refugees thus became stuck in Greece, unable to move to central and northern Europe, their original destinations. The Dublin Regulation, which came into force in 1997 and requires that all asylum seekers register at their first point of entry into the EU, virtually assured that many of those who escaped Greece would be returned there and to other frontline states.23

Newly restrictive national migration policies adopted in haste often clashed with aspects of EU law, such as the common visa requirement and free movement of the Schengen area, which consists of 26 European states that officially abolished all passport and other types of control at their mutual borders in 1995. Repeated attempts by the European Commission to establish quotas for asylum seekers and a more equitable distribution of the migration burden among member states ultimately failed. Finally, an EU-Turkey statement issued in April 2016 promised billions of euros as compensation to non-EU member Turkey for stemming the exodus of migrants and refugees crossing over to EU member Greece.24 This arrangement was deemed vital, aiming to make Turkey the stopping point of migrant flows with a money-for-refugee-camp swap.25

The EU-Turkey migration deal has been fraught with significant capacity constraints and delays. Fragile from its inception, this arrangement began unraveling in early 2020. In February, Turkey announced that it would no longer keep refugees on its territory, threatened to let thousands cross into Europe, and accused the EU of falling short on commitments of financial support. Some 35,000 migrants massed on Turkey’s border with Greece, and many were thrust back by Greek border forces. In March 2020, EU leaders made their highest level visit ever to Greece’s border with Turkey in an effort to defuse the crisis. There, they pledged solidarity with Greece and promised human and financial resources to enhance border security of the country that is “Europe’s shield in the migrant crisis.”26 As of spring 2020, the future of the EU-Turkey deal remains in doubt, further complicated by geopolitical considerations.

The relevance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Europe’s migration crisis has been mostly symbolic. In November 2016, NATO launched a non–Article 5 maritime security operation called Sea Guardian.27 Its goals were similar to those of the EU-Turkey agreement and included reduction in the flows of migrants and refugees from the Asia Minor coast to the Greek islands and interdiction of traffickers and smugglers. Sea Guardian involved limited operations (during certain hours and days of the week). Its effectiveness has not been assessed, but it has not been perceived to be much of a success.

A leader in welcoming migrants to Europe during 2015, Angela Merkel paid a political price at home for this stance and announced in 2018 that she is not seeking reelection.28 Backlash to migrant transit across Europe via the so-called Balkan Corridor, stretching from the northern Greek border to points north, became severe. That migrant pathway was sealed in 2016, as Austria, Hungary, and other European states closed their borders. Buffeted by the anger about migrant encroachment in multiple European states and a growing backlash at home, Germany’s policy stance changed. In 2018, Germany announced it would set up border camps for migrants.29 By 2019, German Interior Minister Horst Seehoffer announced the Geordnete-Rückkehr-Gesetz—or “Orderly Return Law”—which facilitates the deportation of failed asylum seekers.30

In response to these developments, EU decisionmakers also have adapted their strategic goals, assigning higher priority to stopping irregular migration flows at their source, before they reach Europe’s borders. In 2019, new policy ideas, including French President Emmanuel Macron’s idea for a “European Renaissance,” emphasized the need for a unified asylum policy and stricter external border controls.31 The European Commission’s “European Agenda on Migration Four Years On,” introduced on March 6, 2019, considers it essential to pursue a comprehensive approach to restrict migration flows and strengthen external border protection.32 But these goals may undermine the essence of the border-free, visa-free Schengen area, the backbone of Europe’s single labor market. Nor is it clear that the EU can allocate resources for a reinforced security infrastructure at its external borders. Border protection will remain a divisive issue, due to the social, political, and resource burdens that it would impose on the most vulnerable member states. A related factor is the size and effectiveness of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), which coordinates contributions of border guards from EU member states.33 A 2019 announcement by the EU Commission to increase the size of FRONTEX to 10,000 by 2027 is viewed as highly unrealistic. There is no political consensus on the matter, and no resources have been allocated to such an enterprise.34

Then there is the issue of a common asylum policy; the EU has been grappling with it since the beginning of the migration crisis. Absent a common policy, each state has been granting asylum based on its own laws and interpretations of the United Nations charter. According to the EU commissioner for migration, “The current system is broken.”35 To fix it, the commissioner submitted in 2019 seven proposals requiring agreement on all components of a Common European Asylum System, such as stepping up returns of individuals not qualified to receive asylum, ensuring that return decisions are enforced, making plans to address the root causes of migration, and more tightly enforcing the EU-Turkey deal. Aiming for consensus to stem irregular migration at the source in northern Africa, the commission has set up a European Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, with planned contributions of nearly €3 billion from the EU budget.36 But that fund is unlikely to be fully funded anytime soon.

The EU’s newly developed strategy of containment of the migration crisis through a unified common asylum policy, tighter border controls, and stricter management of migrant flows at their source is an acknowledgment that the status quo is unsustainable and must be reformed. The implementation of policy reforms proposed by the EU Commission requires political consensus from all heads of state. Such a consensus cannot be formed as long as the migration burden is placed unevenly on European border states.

The migration crisis reinforced preexisting centrifugal forces unleashed by serious macroeconomic and resource imbalances across the EU. As noted, several EU member states have renationalization policies dealing with border controls and other measures to protect or project national sovereignty. These unilateral moves strongly indicate that the migration challenge poses a greater danger to European integration than the debt crisis. The EU was determined to devise and impose radical new policies to save the euro. By contrast, neither the EU’s institutions nor its member states have invoked a comparable common European symbol to justify imposition of EU-wide policies to resolve the migration crisis. Repeated references to solidarity as the basis for the formulation of new EU-wide migration and people movement measures have not advanced common policies.

In fact, popular sentiment points in the opposite direction. Most Europeans believe that the migration crisis has been mismanaged, and the continued influx of illegal migrants remains their top concern. This is tethered to popular fears that illegal migration increases the incidence of terrorism in their countries.37 The results of elections for the European parliament in May 2019 have indeed led to changes in the European Commission’s policy portfolios. New policy appointments may foretell further changes to the EU’s stance on future refugee inflows and unlawful migration. It remains to be seen whether the EU might begin to overcome the divide between border and nonborder states on the migration issue, achieve a more unified common asylum policy, enhance border security, and move toward a more equitable distribution of migration burden. The EU has everything to gain in meeting the challenge of migration—and much to lose if it does not. As it struggles to find a common way forward on migration, an internally divided Europe risks losing agency on the world stage in a new era of Great Power competition.38

European Politics in Transition

In 2020, the major challenge of the EU is its own survival. In the past 10 years, the EU has faced daunting problems and disruptive crises. It has surmounted immediate perils but has not eliminated their root causes. Nor has it fundamentally reformed its system of governance. To do so requires unanimity among member states and, in some states, referenda as well—extremely difficult to achieve. The financial crisis was temporarily contained, but the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could portend another severe round of recession and severe Euro-trauma. The challenge of migration and migrant crises threatened and can yet endanger EU survival. Brexit has destabilized the United Kingdom and introduced new tensions in Britain’s relationship with Europe. In the short term, whoever “wins” the Brexit conflict, Britain is likely to be the loser.39

The financial crisis and the demography challenge of migration have had major political consequences. They exacerbated longstanding political tensions within member European states, weakened centrist parties, strengthened right-wing extremism, and contributed to the development of illiberal democracy in Eastern Europe. New and unprecedented forms of social protest such as the gilets jaunes in France arose. France and Germany are less able to exercise leadership in Europe, and the Franco-German partnership, the engine of progress in Europe, has been immobilized. Among other Franco-German coordination challenges, Germany is leery about responding to President Macron’s ideas for reforming the EU.40 A vicious circle of weak leadership has ensued, and Russia has tried to take advantage of this EU weakness.

The postwar European model of a mixed economy and extensive social safety net has been eroded. This model was at the heart of European integration; its purpose was to prevent the kind of economic and social insecurity of the 1930s that spawned fascism and Nazism and resulted in World War II. But economic security is hard to guarantee in a postindustrial, fourth industrial revolution society, and the cost of the old European welfare state is becoming prohibitive.41 The impact of rapid economic and technological change today is only equaled by the disruptions caused by the first industrial revolution. The proposed remedy to Europe’s serious economic and political challenges of the 2000s and 2010s was “reform,” but reform was tantamount to an exercise in austerity. The remedy was imposed by Germany and execrated by large elements of the European population, who lost benefits and whose standard of living declined. Those affected were unlikely to welcome “More Europe.” Blame for economic crises was attributed to the governing parties.

To the fear that tomorrow might be harsher than today was added the fear of uncontrolled migration in Europe. Many Europeans were not especially comfortable with Muslim immigrants; thus, political parties like the French National Front thrived on xenophobia. Muslim immigrants often came to the continent just before the process of deindustrialization set in across Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. As a result, they suffered economic, social, and residential marginalization and racism, which impeded true integration. While many Muslims ascended to the middle class, disaffected Muslims, especially in the underclass, were susceptible to Islamism.42 The migration crisis catalyzed the immigrant problem, just as the financial crisis catalyzed the erosion of the European welfare state. The problem of Muslim minorities was exacerbated by jihadist terrorism, which reinforced the impression that the state (and the EU) are unable to guarantee basic citizen safety, which in turn threatens the fragile social situation of Muslims. Deadly Islamist terrorist attacks took place in France (Charlie Hebdo, Hyper Cacher, and Bataclan in 2015; Nice in 2016).43 In 2019, a police officer in the Paris prefecture killed four of his colleagues, leading to fears that terrorists could act as a fifth column within state institutions. In 2020, there is also concern about the return to Europe of jihadists who fought with the so-called Islamic State.

The apparent haplessness of the EU and its member states regarding uncontrolled migration shook confidence in the EU and in establishment political parties, including Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, which had been the centrist mainstays of the EU. Socialist parties that had pioneered the concept of the “people’s home” now found that the far right was trying to appropriate the concept. The far right’s claim was that only by leaving the EU, erecting barriers to globalization, and keeping out immigrants could the people’s home be saved for the “real people”—that is, the native European population. The political system in Western Europe has generally managed to absorb, contain, or neuter the nativist extremists, but with difficulty. At the same time, some centrist political parties have taken on the rhetoric of the far right to protect their political bases.

In Europe’s East, however, the forces of illiberal democracy have been far more successful, especially in Hungary, under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and in Poland, where the conservative regime attempted to undo separation of powers and insisted on acceptance of a nationalist version of Polish history.44 The same crisis of establishment parties occurred in Germany and France. In the early 2000s, before the crisis, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), under then–Prime Minister Gerhardt Schroeder, had shown its “sense of national economic responsibility” by enacting the Hartz labor and market reforms. This made German labor costs more competitive globally but made German workers less financially secure. The SPD lost much of its working-class base and declined from around 40 percent of the electorate to probably less than 20 percent.45 Conversely, the left-wing Greens in Europe have experienced significant growth in both Germany and Austria (where they are now part of a coalition government). As noted, the migrant crisis undermined Merkel’s standing and that of her long-governing, right-leaning Christian Democratic Union. The very right-wing and hyper-nationalist Alternative fur Deutschland (AFD) became the official opposition in the German parliament (Reichstag) in 2017, providing a party known as a political pariah with a kind of legitimacy.

The old East Germany may be moving toward less, rather than more, integration with the rest of the country. Its major parties are anti-system. The Left Party evolved from the old Communist Socialist Unity Party of Germany. A vote for it is a slap in the face to the West German establishment. The AFD in the East is far to the right of the AFD in the West. In Germany’s Thuringia state, where the AFD won 23.5 percent of the vote in the October 2019 lander election, its leader does not hesitate to use rhetoric recalling Nazism.46 Antisemitism and antisemitic violence reemerged, and for first time since World War II, a significant political figure was assassinated. Beleaguered, Merkel entered 2020 in no position to lead Europe or to be a voice for change in Europe, especially if European reform might require financial sacrifice by German taxpayers.

Britain’s longstanding reluctance to commit to membership in an integrated Europe resulted in its joining late, in 1973, and remaining ambivalent. Dissension in the Conservative Party led then–Prime Minister David Cameron to call a referendum in 2016 which, to his surprise, rejected EU membership. The ensuing debate about what kind of British exit from the EU to pursue and whether to hold a second referendum divided Parliament and the country and paralyzed the conservative government of Prime Minister Teresa May from 2017 through 2019. The victory of her ultraconservative Tory Party rival, Boris Johnson, in the elections of December 2019 meant that there would be no second referendum and indicated that the United Kingdom would pursue a “hard” Brexit. Initially, Brexit raised fears about the survival of the EU, but the process so destabilized Britain that it seems likely to serve as a deterrent (at least in the short term) to other member states considering a similar maneuver. Brexit will complicate British-U.S. relations, adding to preexisting trade tensions.47

In France, both establishment parties, Les Républicains and Socialists, collapsed in the 2017 presidential and parliamentary elections. Emmanuel Macron took advantage of the vacuum to become president, and his brand-new political party gained an absolute majority in the National Assembly. As president, Macron is attempting to modernize France through neoliberal reforms, the need for which has long been proclaimed but which previous presidents have failed to accomplish because of popular resistance. The French political class has repeatedly stepped back from labor reform for fear of bringing on another period of popular uprisings like those in May 1968 and because of the ability of special interest groups and unions to bring France to its knees. Ironically, it was not the unions that successfully challenged Macron but rather something new and unexpected: the gilets jaunes.48 The gilets jaunes crisis was an unprecedented social revolt different from anything seen before in France, an anti-system action of “the people” with no organization and leadership, based on a rural and small town population. It reflected opposition to the domestic policies of Macron and his elitist style. At the revolt’s high point, it was not obvious that the president would survive. There is no guarantee that the effort cannot be renewed.

As of late 2019, Macron had managed to nudge French unemployment down to its lowest figure in years. In 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he took on a potentially explosive issue: reform of France’s 42 special pension systems, which provide privileged groups benefits far beyond the norm. But the people will not give them up without a fight. Macron’s only electoral rival is the Rassemblement National (RN), the new name of the National Front Party, a virulently anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, racist party. Longtime RN leader Marine Le Pen abjured antisemitism, but few are convinced that the party’s base has truly experienced a change of heart. The RN in power would be a game changer for France and for Europe.

Domestic politics have weakened the Franco-German partnership, which has always been the sine qua non of effective EU leadership. There was widespread hope that the 2017 election of Macron in France would mark the beginning of a renewal of the partnership, but that positive scenario has not transpired. Given her position of weakness, Merkel has been especially cautious and tends to hew to the status quo on almost all issues related to Europe. There has been much talk about the emergence of Macron as the potential leader of Europe. He certainly seems eager to assume that role but has generated resentment by not seeking consensus. The European parliament showed this resentment by rejecting France’s candidate for the economics portfolio on the European Commission, Sylvie Goulard—a humiliating blow to Macron’s European reputation. Macron’s status in Europe is more a reflection of Merkel’s weakness than his own strength.49 The weakness of Franco-German leadership has an adverse effect on Europe’s ability to assert its interests in an age of Great Power competition.

Europe’s political challenges are important internally and in the context of the new era of Great Power competition. While China’s role in exploiting Europe’s political fracturing remains limited, Russia has been capitalizing on European vulnerability. Russia is the foreign state that tries to influence European politics and decisionmaking most. Discussed in chapters 3b and 7 of this volume, Moscow’s influence activities around the globe and especially in Europe support three main Russian strategic objectives: regime security, predominance in Russia’s near abroad, and world-power status for Russia. The long-term objective of Russian influence activities is to weaken NATO and the EU. In the shorter term, it is to lift the sanctions imposed after the Russian intervention in Ukraine in 2014. Russia has exploited Europe’s challenges with minorities, refugees, and extremists, using them to weaken EU cohesion. Russia also uses the energy sector, business, and corruption as venues for influence on the European polity. It cultivates and exploits an extensive network of allies and front organizations and reconstructs reality and rewrites history to legitimize itself and undermine European leaders.50 Among the modern Great Powers, Russia has the most to gain should political cohesion in Europe remain wobbly or further erode.

New Parameters of European Security

The 1991 end of Cold War bipolarity and the reunification of Germany transformed the security landscape of Europe and led the EU and its governance institutions to gradually adapt their own strategic perspectives. The foundations of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, laid out in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, placed security and defense policy in a common EU-wide context. By 2016, almost a quarter-century later, the EU had formulated a more comprehensive European Agenda for Security (EAS), which prioritized “terrorism, organized crime, and cybercrime as interlinked areas with a strong cross-border dimension.”51 The EU’s global strategy, adopted in June 2016, called for greater coherence in EU external action and identified five security and defense priorities: “the security of the Union; state and social resilience to our east and south; an integrated approach to conflicts and crises; cooperative regional orders; and global governance for the 21st century.”52

In summer 2019, the EU’s 3-year review of its global strategy validated it as a vital component of a “path toward a stronger Europe.”53 That 2019 strategy review endorsed continuation of several activities and policies. First, it encouraged the EU’s role as a global maritime security provider in activities such as operations Atalanta (fighting piracy off the Horn of Africa) and Sophia (chasing smugglers and human traffickers in the Mediterranean). It also endorsed an expanded European Border Security Force, FRONTEX, to deter illegal migration, unlawful crossings in the Mediterranean, and illegal stays in the EU.54 The 2019 review also advocated enhancement of its defense initiative, the Permanent Structured Cooperation, which has for a while aimed to provide a new framework for joint European defense investments and cooperation and operational readiness among 25 member states, covering 34 new defense cooperation projects from cyber security to military mobility. The EU budgeted €590 million from 2017 to 2020 for these programs and entered 2020 planning to expend more funds to incentivize such European defense cooperation.55 The expanding scope of security and defense initiatives reflects the EU’s intensifying quest for greater strategic autonomy. In addition to the European defense initiatives listed above, the EU EAS announced an expansion of its security assistance in the Western Balkans; a desire to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) despite the 2018 U.S. withdrawal from it; and partnership with African countries in multiple policy and security fields, including the field of migration.

Whether the EU’s global strategy truly represents a break with the past remains to be seen. The EU’s budget to address global security challenges remains miniscule. Furthermore, EU’s governance rules mean that it cannot usurp the powers of national leaders on matters of security and defense. But a significant impetus for change in Europe’s security strategy is the eroding cohesion of the transatlantic alliance between Europe and the United States. Over the past decade, the United States has been pressuring European members of NATO to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of GDP from an average of 1.3 percent in 2017. The response of several European countries, including Germany, France, Italy, and Sweden, has been to increase defense expenditures; total defense spending by the EU is planned to surpass $300 billion a year by 2021.56 But the U.S. administration also has objected to the EU’s global strategy on grounds that it signals a “Europe First” approach to industrial policy, limiting the access of U.S. producers to Europe’s domestic manufacturing base.57 Complicating matters further, the December 2019 NATO summit revealed chasms among Allies’ perspectives on their respective roles in countering China and Russia.58

As the future of the transatlantic alliance is open to question, the EU’s global strategy reflects the shifting balance of challenges in EU-China relations. The EU has become China’s biggest trading partner, while China is the EU’s second largest, with trade between the two entities worth €1.5 billion per day. But China’s expanding foreign direct investments, its “new Silk Road” (also known as the Belt and Road Initiative [BRI]) stretching extensively into multiple European states, and Beijing’s competition with the United States and the EU for preeminence in advanced technology have led to a reassessment of EU-China relations. While EU foreign direct investment in China was approximately €6.8 billion in 2014, China’s investment in the EU had grown to around €35 billion in 2016.59

A key area of concern for the EU is the increasing influence of China’s European investments in support of the BRI. China’s access to the EU’s economy and market—growing during the debt crisis—greatly expanded in 2016 when the China Ocean Shipping Company acquired a majority stake in Greece’s port of Piraeus, the main entry point for Chinese exports to Europe. Chinese investments of over $8 billion to upgrade rail transportation between Belgrade and Budapest are part of a larger initiative to improve infrastructure in Central and Eastern European countries. Similar investments are planned in Europe’s south. In 2019, Italy became the largest European country to participate in China’s BRI, through cooperation in the development of Italy’s infrastructure, civil aviation, ports, energy, and telecommunications.60 These investments are well linked to those in the port of Piraeus, further enhancing the transportation, logistics, and warehousing infrastructure required for BRI.

EU concerns center on China’s growing economic presence, potential political influence on EU policymaking, and Chinese funds displacing Russian energy as sources of dependency for Europe. The European Commission has promoted legislation requiring screening of Chinese investments, more controls over potential Chinese product “dumping,” and greater scrutiny of China’s offers to facilitate finance infrastructure spending.61 But Europe is not unified in how to approach China, allowing individual European states to pursue their own policies. Across Europe, China’s global technological presence has already accentuated competition among Great Powers Russia and especially the United States. In many ways, this competition has developed with Europe as the object of rivalries. For example, the EU has yet to develop a unified stance on China’s role in Europe’s technology base, especially its 5G networks, connecting billions of sensitive information and communications technology systems in crucial sectors. At present, France and Germany seem to diverge on what to do about allowing Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE to bid for the next-generation 5G networks. While Paris remains silent on the topic, it appears that Berlin is about to allow Huawei to take part in the 5G competition in Germany.62 In its new EU-China Strategic Outlook in March 2019, the European Commission described its approach to China as a cooperating partner in some areas and a negotiating partner in others.63 But it also named China as “an economic competitor in pursuit of technological leadership and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.”64

Shifts may also be evidenced in the EU’s approach to Russia. While Russia remains a security threat as a nuclear superpower, its geopolitical position in Eurasia is altogether different compared with the Cold War era. EU-Russia relations reflect a long history of complex interdependencies based on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 1997.65 These interconnections involve an array of policy areas, including trade, science and technology, and transport. Russia is now the fourth largest trading partner of the EU and the fourth largest export destination of EU goods (€85.3 billion in 2018). Russia—the largest oil, gas, uranium, and coal exporter to the EU—is the third largest source of goods imports (€168.3 billion in 2018); energy products account for nearly 70 percent of the EU’s imports from Russia. For its part, the EU remains a key trading partner for Russia, representing €253.6 billion, or 43 percent of Russia’s trade in 2018. And the EU is by far the largest investor in Russia, with a total stock of foreign direct investment there that approached €235.2 billion in 2018.66

Financial interdependencies as well as geopolitical considerations will shape the future of EU-Russia relations. The energy sector will continue to dominate the EU-Russia trade and investment relationship, despite the controversies surrounding the Nord Stream, a 1,225-kilometer gas pipeline through Europe. Denmark’s recent approval of a permit for Nord Stream 2 virtually guarantees that more Russian gas will be pumped into Europe.67

There is widespread concern that Russia interferes in European political life, in elections, and possibly in the Brexit referendums; that Moscow subsidizes extremist parties; and that Moscow seeks to undermine the political cohesion of the EU and member states. But the perception of Russia as a security threat varies greatly among EU member states, depending on geography: hardly at all in the Mediterranean or Iberia, but seriously in the North and especially in the Baltics. While there is no fear that Russia could or would invade Europe as a whole, the possibility of hybrid operations in the Baltics is real.68 Yet Europe alone cannot defend its member states against Russia, and the EU does not have a legal mandate to do so. European defense remains predicated on NATO, and U.S. guarantees are indispensable for NATO to be meaningful. Thus, Europeans worry that the United States might detach itself from the continent.69 Some EU leaders (including Germany) try to avoid debate over the future of NATO and hope that future U.S. administrations will return to traditional transatlantic policies. To the extent that they feel less certain about U.S. commitment to NATO Article V (the mutual self-defense clause), Europeans may pursue and intensify mutually advantageous relations with Russia in as many sectors as possible. The EU could seek continued accommodation and deeper cooperation with China and Russia as the optimal path to survive and adapt to the evolving competition among the world’s Great Powers.

Another approach, not necessarily mutually exclusive, advocated by President Macron, is one of European defense autonomy. In the past, French support for European defense autonomy was based on neo-Gaullist opposition to perceived U.S. domination. In late 2019, Macron, who stated that NATO is “brain dead,” expressed far more concern that “America is turning its back on us so quickly on strategic issues.” He added that if Europe “can’t think of itself as a global power [it] will disappear.”70 Macron took note of how the United States broke with its Kurdish allies in Syria with a controversial military departure that left Kurdish adversary Turkey holding the cards on what to do there. Macron’s comments were taken by some as recognition that Europe needs to be able to defend itself—a legitimate call to action to create genuine European defense cooperation. If the United States follows its historic policy of close cooperation with Europe on security, with a focus on the primacy of NATO, this is unlikely to happen. If, however, U.S. policy shifts even more deliberately to a more unilateral approach in the period of 2020 to 2025—and if Europe feels that there is an existential threat to its sovereignty and that the United States could not be counted on to come to its aid—the EU has the means to create an autonomous defense. In that case, Europe, very much against its inclinations, could move from a post–World War II experiment relying on U.S. security guarantees to a more ambitious system of integrated European security and defense with a single military structure.

Europe in 2025

When European integration began with the Schuman Plan in 1949, it was a superb strategy for transcending generations of conflict and creating new union. When the Cold War ended, the EU dared to expand toward the very limits of the continent. Operating in a moment of dominant U.S. power and in the absence of Great Power rivalry, Europeans thought large and operated boldly. That dynamism is lacking today.

At a time when other parts of the world, such as China, are exhibiting unprecedented economic growth, Europe is stagnating; its percentage of global GDP is in decline. The international context of 2020 is presenting Europe with a more aggressive Russia, growing Chinese power, and lack of trust in the U.S. commitment to European defense and to transatlanticism as a whole. Concurrently, the EU seems to be facing serious instability as a result of the weakening of its Franco-German core. Germany and France have not found common positions on many significant issues, including European defense.

Europe will remain vulnerable to internal and external events. Among such outside events, the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the world and hitting much of Europe especially hard is precisely the kind of exogenous shock that might thrust the EU into an entirely new paradigm. Europe did not have enough resources or time to provide robust internal assistance to member states, such as Italy, hit hardest by the virus early on. The United States did not have a policy focus or the independent resources to fill that humanitarian assistance role either. Thus, it was China—and, to a lesser extent, Russia—that provided direct assistance with forms of anti-virus expertise to Italy and then to other European states during the crisis.71 By assuming a traditional U.S.-led role in international humanitarian health assistance for Europe’s own states, China in particular demonstrated the interest and the capability to grow cultural goodwill and greater potential political influence with Europeans in an era of Great Power competition.

As with the pandemic, several trends now visible in 2020 could easily develop into major problems for EU cohesion over the course of the coming few years:

  • A significant policy change toward NATO in a second Trump administration that could weaken European faith in the U.S. commitment toward Article V guarantees to member states. This could trigger aggressive Russian behavior toward a NATO state or intensification of the war in Ukraine. It could also begin a decoupling of European and U.S. defense.
  • A renewed migration crisis or massive terrorist attacks. Even smaller attacks, like the murder of four policemen in the prefecture of police in Paris by a policeman-turned-jihadist, can have outsized consequences on the state and public opinion. This might further fragment Europe’s right and center, exacerbating tensions over common population movement policies.
  • A new financial crisis, requiring more radical interventions to save the euro and EU banks. A lengthy coronavirus-generated recession or a similar serious economic shock could lead to increased political friction and might further undermine the solidarity of the EU.
  • A social or political explosion that threatens the survival of an elected government or the integrity of a European state. The gilets jaunes crisis indicates high levels of social discontent in France and, by extension, possibly elsewhere. The worker strikes of December 2019 through January 2020 emphasized that risk. The Catalan separatist crisis in Spain has not become violent, but nothing prevents it from deepening.
  • Although the December 2019 British elections resolved the immediate question of whether Brexit would actually take place, there remains the daunting task of deciding on its terms in negotiations that are supposed to terminate within only 1 year. Brexit could still degenerate. It has bitterly divided the United Kingdom. It could lead to the fragmentation of the two major parties there and a shakeup of the parliamentary system itself. Britain may be threatened with dissolution; the likelihood of Scotland’s independence and even Irish unification has increased. British prestige has suffered. The British role in European defense may also decline. Britain’s problems are Europe’s problems, even if Britain leaves the EU.

At the dawn of a new era of Great Power competition, Europe finds itself at a far different place than it did a mere decade ago. Europe did not become a “superpower” in the post–Cold War and post-Maastricht world, as predicted by some. In the past decade, Europe has weathered a serious array of stress-inducing challenges: a debt crisis, a migration crisis, increasing pressure on its security and political institutions by a resurgent Russia and by the rise an extreme right wing, the encroachment of Chinese economic strength, and a decline in transatlantic solidarity. In spite of it all, European integration remains a reality. Europe has been resilient but troubled. The coming years will continue to test that resilience.

The authors are grateful to Carl F. Lankowski, Steve Szabo, and Kelly Ward for their review and helpful comments.


1 In Notre Jeunesse, Notre Jeunesse, Oeuvres Complètes de Charles Péguy 1873–1914, Oeuvres de Prose, Notre Jeunesse, Victor-Marie, Comte Hugo (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1916), 59.

2 See chapter 1 of this volume for the three-feature operational definition of a Great Power as derived from Thomas J. Volgy et al., “Major Power Status in International Politics,” in Major Powers and the Quest for Status in International Politics: Global and Regional Perspectives, ed. Thomas J. Volgy et al. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 1–26.

3 Jack Goldstone, “The New Population Bomb,” Foreign Affairs (January/February 2010).

4 Discussed in detail in Irene Kyriakopoulos, “Economic and Monetary Union Governance: A Post-Crisis Assessment,” World Economics Journal 12, no. 4 (October–December 2011), available at <>.

5 For a detailed analysis, see Irene Kyriakopoulos, “In the Name of the Euro: What Have the EU’s Policies Achieved in Greece?” Intereconomics 49, no. 6 (2014), available at <>.

6 This is a provision of the Maastricht Treaty, which established Europe’s monetary union. The provision establishes that member states are not liable and will not assume the debts of any member state. Thus, if a member state defaults on its sovereign debt, other member states and/or the Eurozone as a whole are not liable. The member state is responsible for the consequences of a default. For further reading, see Council on Foreign Relations, “The Eurozone Crisis as Historical Legacy,” September 24, 2010, available at <>.

7 The Eurogroup, which manages financial affairs for the Eurozone, decided to finance a €10 billion rescue program through a levy imposed on uninsured deposits over €100,000 ($130,000 USD) in Cyprus’s banks.

8 Verbatim of the remarks by Mario Draghi, European Central Bank, July 26, 2012, available at <>.

9 Felix Roth and Lars Jonung, “Public Support for the Euro and Trust in the ECB: The First Two Decades,” VOX EU, December 13, 2019, available at <>.

10 Understanding the Socio-Economic Divide in Europe (Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, January 26, 2017), available at <>.

11 Andrew Walker, “Eurozone Bailout Program Is Finally Over,” BBC News, August 19, 2018, available at <>.

12 Jamil Anderlini, “Chinese Investors Surged into EU at Height of Debt Crisis,” Financial Times, October 6, 2014, available at <>.

13 Po-Kuan Wu, “Examining the EU-China Relationship in the Aftermath of the Economic Crisis,” International Journal of Public Administration 40, no. 14 (April 2017), available at <>.

14 Kelvin Chan, “Europe Resists Mounting U.S. Pressure on Huawei 5G Technology,” Associated Press, February 18, 2020, available at <>.

15 Bettina Marx, “Merkel Demands ‘More Europe!’” Deutsche Welle, June 7, 2012, available at <>.

16 European Central Bank, Eurosystem, “The International Role of the Euro,” June 2019, available at <>.

17 Maximilian Kärnfelt, “China’s Currency Push: The Chinese Yuan Expands Its Footprint in Europe,” China Monitor, January 9, 2020, available at <>.

18 The phrase “the first postmodern superpower” was coined in a popular book published a decade after EU integration. See Jeremy Rifkin, The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream (London: Tarcher Perigree, 2004). For a discussion of the EU’s failure to realize the most optimistic hopes of a future as a superpower, see William Drozdiak, Fractured Continent: Europe’s Crisis and the Fate of the West (New York: Norton, 2017).

19 For further reading, see Christof Van Mol and Helga de Valk, “Migration and Immigrants in Europe: A Historical and Demographic Perspective,” in Integration Processes and Policies in Europe, ed. Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas and Rinus Penninx (New York: Springer, 2016).

20 Irene Kyriakopoulos, “Europe’s Responses to the Migration Crisis: Implications for European Integration,” Strategic Insights (Washington, DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies, April 25, 2019).

21 “Europe and Right-Wing Nationalism: A Country-by-Country Guide,” BBC News, November 13, 2019, available at <>.

22 Heather Horn, “The Staggering Scale of Germany’s Refugee Project,” The Atlantic, September 12, 2015.

23 European Commission, “The Dublin System,” April 6, 2016, available at <>.

24 European Council, Council of the European Union, “EU-Turkey Statement,” March 18, 2016, available at <>.

25 Turkey is not a member of the EU, so it is not subject to its migration or population movement laws.

26 “EU Chief Says Greece Is Europe’s Shield in Migrant Crisis,” BBC News, March 3, 2020, available at <>.

27 Operation Sea Guardian succeeded Operation Active Endeavour under the operational command of Allied Maritime Command, Northwood, United Kingdom.

28 In October 2018, a beleaguered Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she would not seek reelection as party head or as Germany’s chancellor in the forecast 2021 elections. See Anneken Tappe, “Germany’s Merkel Confirms She’s on the Way Out, Won’t Seek Re-election as Party Head or Chancellor,” Market Watch, October 29, 2018, available at <>.

29 “Merkel, to Survive, Agrees to Border Camps for Migrants,” New York Times, July 2, 2018, available at <>.

30 “Germany Passes Controversial Migration Law,” Politico, July 7, 2019, available at <>.

31 Emmanuel Macron, “For European Renewal,” March 4, 2019, available at <>.

32 European Commission, Migration and Home Affairs, “European Agenda on Migration Four Years On,” available at <>.

33 European Border and Coast Guard Agency, available at <>.

34 “European Border and Coast Guard: 10,000-Strong Standing Corps by 2027,” European Parliament News, April 17, 2019, available at <>; “FRONTEX: The Making of ‘A Superagency,’” Refugee Support Aegean, December 4, 2019, available at <>.

35 European Commission, “Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos,” press release, June 20, 2018, available at <>.

36 See EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, available at <>; Maite Vermeulen, Giacomo Zandonini, and Ajibola Amzat, “How the EU Created a Crisis in Africa—and Started a Migration Cartel,” The Correspondent, December 10, 2019, available at <>.

37 Philip Connor, “A Majority of Europeans Favor Taking in Refugees, but Most Disapprove of EU’s Handling of the Issue,” Pew Research Center, September 16, 2018, available at <>.

38 Alina Polyakova and Benjamin Haddad, “Europe in the New Era of Great Power Competition: How the EU Can Stand Up to Trump and China,” Foreign Affairs, July 17, 2018, available at <>.

39 On the implications of British marginalization, see Gideon Rachman, “Britain and Russia Are Europe’s Odd Couple,” Financial Times, October 29, 2019. On the early development of British-EU relations, see Hugo Young, This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair (London: Overlook, 1998). The Financial Times provides excellent coverage of Brexit developments. See Center for European Reform’s analyses as well.

40 On the history of Franco-German relations, see Julius W. Friend, The Linchpin: Franco-German Relations 1950–1990 (New York: Praeger, 1991), and Unequal Partners: Franco-German Relations 1989–2000 (New York: Praeger, 2001). Also see Gilbert Ziebura, ed., Les relations franco-allemandes dans une Europe divisée, Mythes et réalites (Bordeaux: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux, 2012).

41 For a definition of and detail about the parameters of the fourth industrial revolution, see chapter 4.

42 Steven Philip Kramer, “France’s Muslim Predicament,” National Interest, March 2020. For a serious study on Islam in France, see Sylvain Brouard and Vincent Tiberj, Francais comme les autres? Enquête sur les citoyens d’origne maghrébine, africaine et turque (Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 2005).

43 On terrorism, see EUROPOL, European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2019 (The Hague: European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, 2019), available at <>. On the problem of the return of the so-called Islamic State, see David Thomson, Les Revenants (Paris: Seuil, 2016). On the impact of violence against Jews in France, see Jerôme Fourquet and Sylvain Manternach, L’An prochain a Jérusalem (Paris: Editions in de l’Aube, 2016).

44 Paul Lendvai, “The Transformer: Orban’s Evolution and Hungary’s Demise,” Foreign Affairs (September/October 2019).

45 On the Hartz reforms and political consequences in Germany, see Christian Odenahl, “Germany After the Hartz Reforms: Can the SPD Protect German Labor?” Foreign Affairs, September 11, 2017, available at <>.

46 “East German State Lurches Right, Elevating Its Firebrand Leader,” New York Times, October 28, 2019.

47 Michael Marray, “Brexit Further Complicates U.S., EU, and China Trade Relations,” The Asset, February 12, 2020, available at <>.

48 Steven Philip Kramer, “The Gilet Jaune Crisis,” Strategic Insights (Washington, DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies, March 11, 2019).

49 Guy Chazan, “Merkel’s Political Twilight Sees Influence Wane,” Financial Times, September 25, 2019.

50 Gier Hagen Karlsen, “Divide and Rule: Ten Lessons About Russian Political Influence Activities in Europe,” Palgrave Communications 5, no. 19 (February 8, 2019), available at <>.

51 Migration and Home Affairs—European Commission, “European Agenda on Security,” December 6, 2016, available at <>.

52 Federica Mogherini, “From Vision to Action: The EU Global Strategy in Practice,” in The European Union’s Global Strategy: Three Years On, Looking Forward (Brussels: European Commission, June 2019), 4–7, available at <>.

53 Ibid. Also see “The EU Global Strategy Three Years On,” in The European Union’s Global Strategy, 8–33.

54 FRONTEX is scheduled to expand its strength to 10,000 by 2027.

55 Daniel Darling, “PESCO and the Long Road to European Strategic Autonomy,” Defense & Security Monitor, November 14, 2019, available at <>.

56 David Reid, “Europe’s Defense Spending Nears $300 Billion as Experts Say Trump’s Pressure Is Paying Off,” CNBC, November 1, 2019, available at <>.

57 Ben Hall and Richard Milne, “Europe First: How Brussels Is Retooling Industrial Policy,” Financial Times, December 2, 2019.

58 Kevin Baron, “NATO’s Newest Threat Is Coming from Inside the House,” Defense One, December 3, 2019, available at <>.

59 European External Action Service, “EU-China Relations Factsheet,” October 18, 2019, available at <>.

60 Vincent L. Morelli, The European Union and China, IF10252 (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2019), available at <>.

61 Michael Nienaber, “Chinese FDI in Europe Drops, Investment Screening Will Cut It More—Survey,” Reuters, March 6, 2019, available at <>.

62 Janka Oertel, “Germany Chooses China Over the West,” Foreign Policy, October 21, 2019, available at <>; see also Philippe Le Corre, “Macron Goes to China: For Europe or for France?” Carnegie Europe, October 31, 2019, available at <>.

63 European Commission and HR/VP Contribution to the European Council: EU-China—A Strategic Outlook (Brussels: European Commission, 2019), available at <>.

64 Ibid.

65 European Commission, “EU/Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement,” December 1, 1997, available at <>.

66 European Union External Action, “The European Union and the Russian Federation,” May 30, 2019, available at <>.

67 The name Nord Stream refers to a pipeline from Russia to western Europe under the Baltic Sea. It was officially launched in 2010. See “Nord Stream Gas Pipeline Underwater Construction Starts,” BBC News, April 9, 2010, available at <>. Nord Stream 2 is the name of the undersea pipeline that will pump Russian gas into Europe. See Jordan Stevens, “Nord Stream 2 Explained: What It Is and Why It’s Proving Controversial,” CNBC, May 21, 2019, available at <>. See also “Nord Stream 2: Go-Ahead for Russian Gas Pipeline Angers Ukraine,” BBC, October 31, 2019, available at <>.

68 Cf. Robert M. Klein et al., Baltics Left of Bang: The Role of NATO with Partners in Denial Based Deterrence, INSS Strategic Forum No. 304 (Washington, DC: NDU Press, November 2019), available at <>. For a reappraisal of the Russian threat, see Thomas Graham, “Let Russia Be Russia,” Foreign Affairs (November/December 2019).

69 See, for example, Constanze Stelzenmuller, Hostile Ally: The Trump Administration and Europe’s Inadequate Response (Washington, DC: Brookings, August 2019), available at <>.

70 “Emmanuel Macron on Europe’s Fragile Place in a Hostile World,” The Economist, November 7, 2019, available at <>. See also Zaki Laïdi, Can Europe Learn to Play Power Politics (London: Centre for European Reform, November 2019).

71 Alan Crawford, Peter Martin, and Bloomberg, “‘Health Silk Road’: China Showers Europe with Coronavirus Aid as Both Spar with Trump,” Fortune, March 19, 2020, available at <>; Stuart Lau, “Coronavirus: Xi Jinping Calls Leaders of France, Spain, Germany and Serbia with Offers of Support,” South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), March 21, 2020, available at <>.