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Research Report

The Europe We Would Like to Inherit:: Toward a Visionary New Pragmatism

Muddassar Ahmed
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Dustin Dehez
Spela Kranjc
Ivo Sobral
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2013
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 23
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)
    David Kirk and Jeff Lightfoot

    We are pleased to present the first publication of the Atlantic Council’s Young Atlanticist program, “The Europe We Would Like to Inherit: Toward a Visionary New Paradigm.”

    This publication is important to the Atlantic Council for several reasons. First, it is the first publication of our Young Atlanticist program, which we hope can serve as a model for subsequent efforts from future emerging leaders who participate in Council programming. Second, the brief is an organic effort of five European leaders representing four different countries in Europe. Four of the authors were delegates at the Atlantic Council’s Young Atlanticist Summit alongside...

  2. (pp. 2-2)
    Muddassar Ahmed

    Facing a major economic and financial crisis, an increasingly authoritarian Russia, and the rise of Asia, Europe is now at a major crossroads. The economic and financial crisis clearly demonstrates that the European Union is insufficiently integrated to face a real challenge and that the prevalent economic models are ill-equipped to resolve the structural causes of our vulnerability to economic shocks. Unresolved conflicts in the Balkans and the Caucasus, democratic setbacks in Ukraine, and the persistence of “Europe’s last dictatorship” in Belarus are reminders that the European project is in danger of losing its appeal. The troubling resurgence of the...

  3. (pp. 6-7)

    Of all the challenges Europe currently faces, the Eurozone crisis has attracted the most attention. However, the most persistent myth about the current crisis in Europe is that it is by and large a debt crisis. While debt is a central part of the story, it is by far not the only problem, nor can it be addressed in isolation. In fact, Europe is experiencing a multi-layered economic challenge, of which the Southern debt crisis is only part. All European countries have accumulated huge debts; their social security models are facing an inevitable demographic challenge, while an insufficiently regulated financial...

  4. (pp. 8-9)

    Europe’s decision-making processes are opaque. To the average European citizen, Europe is not a political utopia but a bureaucratic monstrosity with a decision-making system as sluggish as it is outdated. That perception is not misguided; while the European project has given the continent decades of peace and prosperity, its political integration lags behind both economic integration and social realities. Although Europe’s bureaucracy has expanded and more authority has been delegated to Brussels, its democratic and institutional development lacks cohesion and legitimacy.

    If Europe again wants to play a leading role in the world, it must reform its institutional system. The...

  5. (pp. 10-11)

    The European Union’s recent economic crisis, porous borders, growing xenophobia, and the refusal of all twenty-eight members to share the burden of illegal immigration are pushing the EU and some of its members toward drastic policies. The Arab Spring and a population boom in Sub-Saharan Africa have exacerbated this trend, sending thousands of illegal immigrants to the EU. This is happening at the same time as the numbers of legal immigrants are dwindling due to the economic crisis and its impact on the labor market.

    The unsuccessful and downright counterproductive policies of the EU in dealing with illegal immigration have...

  6. (pp. 12-13)

    Currently the EU is facing an unprecedented set of challenges to its defense and foreign policy, including the global economic crisis, the Arab Spring, the Iranian nuclear question, and instability in the Horn of Africa. Europe must also confront the broad strategic challenge of the rising economic and political influence of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) powers, along with the major shift in US security policy toward Asia.

    European leaders insist that the Libya intervention served as a wake-up call to finally enhance Europe’s military capabilities and get serious about military integration. But NATO’s response to Europe’s dramatic decline...

  7. (pp. 14-15)

    The need for an integrated approach to global challenges affecting Europe’s economic, foreign affairs, defense, and security policies leads us to two interrelated issues that cannot be ignored in assessing the future of Europe: climate change and energy security.

    According to a number of recent scientific studies, our current global emissions trajectory will guarantee a temperature rise of 4 to 6 degrees Celsius within this century. In the Amazon, forests and soils would increasingly release carbon into the atmosphere as they fail under heat-stress, drought, and fires, accelerating widespread desertification and overall warming. In the Arctic, melting permafrost would increasingly...

  8. (pp. 16-17)

    At first glance, the future of Europe seems rife with difficulty and uncertainty. The economic crisis, political disunity, military impotence and looming dangers of environmental and energy insecurity seem foreboding. We underscore this prevalent sense of gloom in order to bring home the reality that Europe’s current trajectory is not only deeply flawed, but that continuing business as usual is simply not an option. Fortunately, none of the challenges that we have identified are insurmountable. On the contrary, it is clear that Europe has the ingenuity, dynamism, and resources to resolve them.

    But this cannot be done without a dose...