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The EU Isn’t Built to Lead
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks at a media conference in Brussels, Sept. 21.
Associated Press

The EU Isn’t Built to Lead

Walter Russell Mead

Ursula von der Leyen, the former German defense minister and Angela Merkel protégé now serving as president of the European Commission, has said repeatedly that Europe needs to think and act geopolitically. She is right, but judging by recent events, a geopolitically effective European Union isn’t coming anytime soon.

It was bad enough before the Armenians and Azerbaijanis started fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh again. The EU faces crises in the north (Belarus), east (the Syrian war and tension in the Eastern Mediterranean), south (Libya) and west (the Brexit impasse) and is struggling to produce a response to any of them. To be fair, all of these problems are tricky and none have obvious solutions, but the primary issue is that the EU isn’t set up to be a geopolitical actor.

This is partly a problem of process. The European Union is not built for speed. On important foreign-policy issues, where any one of the 27 member states can block action with a veto, getting to a consensus requires so much compromise that the ultimate policy often loses all coherence and any real chance of success. So much time is needed to reach that likely ineffective policy decision that by the time the EU reaches the station, the train has already pulled away.

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal

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