Declining Power Europe? The Evolution of the European Union’s World Power in the Early 21st Century International Affairs (forthcoming)
At the dawn of this century there was some optimism that the world role and power of the European Union (EU) would grow. This optimism was most vividly expressed in such books as The United States of Europe, The European Superpower and especially in Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century, where it was argued that the EU would succeed the US as the dominant superpower. This paper evaluates the evolution of the EU’s world power since the turn of the century in respect of regulatory (including environmental) policy, trade policy, monetary and fiscal policy, security and defence policy and the promotion of democracy, human rights and regional cooperation. Although the EU’s power varies by issue-area and geographic location, overall its power is receding, owing primarily to its relative economic decline, exacerbated by the Euro zone crisis, and politico-institutional structures that continue to constrain its capacity to adopt and implement common policies. The EU looks less like the superpower that will run the 21st century than a declining power.