Tag Archives: equidistance

Europe’s Asian Summer: choosing alignment with America over independence?

The European External Action Service has dubbed 2012 “The EU in Asia year” – so, with the main summits and visits behind us, what have we learned so far?

Nicola Casarini put his finger on the big strategic question facing Europe in a recent Chaillot paper published by ISS in September 2012:

“EU policy makers need to tackle the following question: does it remain in the longterm interest of the EU to be perceived as being closely aligned with the US in the Asia Pacific and renouncing the chance for its distinctive – and more neutral – voice to be heard?”

Casarini advocates a change in direction for the EU, towards a neutral position on the South China Sea dispute, which would allow the EU to take a mediation role. He puts this into a broader context in which Europe and China share an interest in a multi-polar world order, implicitly against Washington’s preference for a prolongation of the unipolar moment it has enjoyed after the Cold War ended.

In this blogger’s view, events over the summer have confirmed the emergence of a US-leaning position in the EU policy towards Asia. Is the EU foregoing the ambition and the advantages of independence and simply aligning with the US and its treaty allies to counter China? Signs that this may be happening can be seen in three policy moves between June and September: Continue reading

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