Session Summary: The Great EU Soul-searching: What Spot on the New Global Power Map?

H.E. Ivan Korčok, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic  

H.E. Alexander Schallenberg, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs   of the Republic of Austria  

Marina Sereni, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Italian Republic

Daniela Schwarzer, Executive Director Europe and Eurasia, Open Society Foundations, Brussels

Led by: Matthew Karnitschnig, Chief Europe Correspondent, POLITICO, Berlin


The discussion focused on the positioning of the EU as a global actor and the perception it should deliver. The discussion started by establishing that the EU has the leverage to become a global player in many aspects but needs to obtain a better capability to act. H.E. Alexander Schallenberg praises the EU for having this power in certain areas but mentions that the EU is not capable of using it as political means. He mentions that Europe is progressing quickly but needs a better “political will”.

H.E. Ivan Korčok stresses that the European Union has the capacities and ambition to be a global player but is not doing enough. He further develops the point by stating that the EU’s model of governance and liberal democracy is becoming increasingly more scrutinized and is being questioned within the EU itself. Therefore, he mentions the need for a joint perception to see the realities happening within the EU and to set its ambitions right. He further questions the ambition set by the EU and proposes that it should focus more on smaller, clearly defined sub-strategies and use a more down-to-earth approach.

Marina Sereni agrees that it is necessary for the EU to increase its presence as a geopolitical actor. She stresses the need for a common foreign and security policy as no single EU member state currently has the power to have a large impact alone, but together the EU has a greater chance of doing so. She further focuses on the need for the EU to demonstrate its capacity to act as a geopolitical actor, especially in a crisis. Furthermore, she claims that the EU should show a coherent position and speak with a unified voice.

The panellists agreed that the EU has the means to become a global player and the key to achieve it is a foreign policy based on common values. Daniela Schwarzer suggests starting by dealing with challenges the EU faces, primarily those mainly within the European Union and its member states. Additionally, she adds that the EU needs the means to perform very precise risk and threat assessments and gain the tools and possibilities to act unanimously.