Monday, October 18, 2010

Europe Under China: The EU's U.N. Tug-of-War

NYT/IHT journalist Judy Dempsey serves up some interesting perspective on Germany and Portugal's recent assession to nonpermanent seats to the UN Security Council. She uses China as an axis of comparison with western powers' UN moves, catering to the center of focus for the American majority of her piece's readers. 

By default, her article relegates Europe to the same observer status Germany and Portugal have just won. 

The following excerpts bring the China element to the fore:

"Europe’s decline is partly linked to China’s growing influence as an economic power, donor and lender. From Belarus to Iran, across Africa and Latin America, China is lending money, forging trade deals and building roads, airports and schools while tapping the natural resources of these countries.

And there are no strings attached. “China sets no conditions, unlike the E.U., which often sets them in an inconsistent way” [quoted from source]. Indeed, China’s way of doing things is seen as a direct challenge to Europe’s dominance in development aid and trade agreements."
"... With the radical shifts in global influence led by China, Europe’s influence is waning, and fast.
The E.U.’s hopes of supporting human rights and democracy around the world are at risk of being defeated by changes in the global balance of power,” said Anthony Dworkin, international law expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the United Nations, where the Union has suffered embarrassing defeats.
Last month, it failed to win expanded rights to the General Assembly, where it has observer status. A new status would have allowed Brussels the right to make proposals, circulate documents and address the Assembly.
To the dismay of  Catherine Ashton, the Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy [as implemented by the EEAS], some of Europe’s closest allies — Australia, Canada and New Zealand — abstained. Diplomats blamed the Union’s lack of strategy and consultation.
“The E.U.’s shambolic defeat was more than a humiliation,” said Paul Luif, Europe expert at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs in Vienna. “It showed the growing lack of support for an E.U. that seems more and more ineffective at the U.N.”

The article's title is "
For Europe, a Challenge to Make Its Voice Resonate." Sounds more than a bit like "Europeans Woo U.S., Promising Relevance," also from the New York Times. One of its most prominent columnists, Roger Cohen, has similarly declared that "Europe is history," a "strategic backwater."

If what is arguably America's most Europhile newspaper sees grim days ahead for Europe, it should be equally gloomy -- and disconcerting -- to ponder the EU's eclipse within the UN Security Council specifically.

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