EU Geopolitics 101

Geopolitics of the EU n.1

In her first press conference as President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen stated that she will lead a “geopolitical Commission”. But what does geopolitics actually mean for an entity like the EU? Geopolitics is a complex matter, most people confuse it with the much simpler concepts of foreign policy and international relations, but these constitute only a microscopic part of it. Behind geopolitics lie all of the elements at the basis of a national state’s true identity, among these its history, its culture, its geographical arrangement and numerous other variables that shape a country’s needs, its goals and the way it relates with third parties. In the end, we could define geopolitics as the strategy a country must necessarily adopt to achieve hegemony, prosperity or simply survival. Leaders have almost no say at all on it, their range of action is strictly limited to policy, which is simply a matter of how governments decide to pursue a given strategy.

Therefore, it is straightforward to understand why the EU represents a very particular case. If I assumed the EU to be a national state, which it’s not, I could simply talk about its geopolitical approach to external actors, certainly a matter of great importance but not the only noteworthy one. The EU is a peculiar organism: 27 different states (officially 28 until 2021) shape the Union’s identity, and it would be foolish to ignore their differences and the way they relate with each other, whether it’s through cooperation or conflict. Each article of this rubric will address both matters in order to provide different points of view. If I managed not to lose your attention, then let me explain further into details what this rubric is about.

In varietate Concordia

The treaty of Rome (1957) brought about the creation of the European Economic Community (ECC), the ancestor of the EU.

The treaty of Rome (1957) brought about the creation of the European Economic Community (ECC), the ancestor of the EU.

Although the EU should have an extremely busy geopolitical agenda given its huge potential in the international arena, we rarely see the Union addressing other international actors with one single voice and even in those few cases, the divergent interests of the Member States are decisive (I will dig deeper into it in the next section).