Boosting Europe’s interests in an increasingly bipolar world

Velina Tchakarova
3 min readJun 14, 2019

How should the strategic agenda of the EU and its Member States (MS) look like for the period between 2019 and 2024 following the reshuffle of personnel in the European institutions (European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank, etc.)?

The Union, the MS, and the European Citizens can’t currently agree on what they want in terms of institutions, reforms, competences, etc., however, they certainly can agree on what they do not want, namely that Europe and the EU with its MS are pushed away or squeezed out from global and regional markets; the global GDP share; trade and economic partnerships; global supply chains, international and regional organisations, negotiation forums and formats.

Europe should not take sides amid the growing systemic rivalry between the USA and China, nor should the EU and its MS seek to take either/or decisions during this rivalry. Thus, the EU and the MS should pursue an unique European way of navigating through increasingly systemic bipolarity with multiple regional hotspots and emerging polarization between two specific power centres — the USA and China, with regional actors such as the EU and MS, Japan, India, etc. trying to keep the balance between them.

If the EU and the MS do not act decisively today, someone else will take the decisions for Europe tomorrow. Thus, the EU and the MS should seek to build new partnerships and rebuild old ones, going beyond the scope of the Transatlantic Community.

It is time to build and enhance a strategic triad between the EU institutions, the MS, and the European citizens through enabling of a vertical communication between all layers and levels of power and influence. (For instance, new functions such as EU HR for China, India, Russian Federation, Japan, Turkey, etc. could act as connectors between the MS and the EU institutions to communicate, coordinate and build bridges between them on certain positions).

Strategic Leitmotiv for the agenda in the next five years could be “A Principled and Inclusive European Way Based on Credibility, Transparency, and Responsibility for the Future”

Europe can and should act as the connector between America, Asia, and Eurasia amid growing complexity and Global System transformation; moreover, as a bridge between the Atlantic, Indian, and the Pacific Ocean with all the emerging connectivity along these routes.

The question in Europe is not how to make the system more robust or more resilient, as it would still collapse if there is a bigger shock to it, but how to make it anti-fragile so that the most vital systems such as health, social, economic, trade, financial, currency, etc. do not collapse in case of bigger or unexpected shocks (such as the next possible financial crisis).

The EU and the MS should boost regional alliances, partnerships and ad hoc cooperation with focus on the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood as well as the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific Region, and thus focus on smart power balancing in order to not be pushed into the corner to remain with only a few options of maneuvering.

Building new alliances and rebuilding old ones are linked to solid, credible, and principled positions on future geographic priorities and realpolitik thinking. Identifying potential key strategic partners and institutions is a must.

Self-reliance and greater strategic autonomy of actions can only be achieved through the link between citizens, MS, and European institutions based on the greatest capital in Europe — the European citizens. Thus, decentralization initiatives and bottom-up processes ‘by the people, for the people, and with the people’ should be promoted and boosted.

Future of Europe — Five Scenarios, 2019, p. 28



Velina Tchakarova

Velina is Director of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES) in Vienna.