EU issues should be put back on the agenda as soon as possible

  • Thorbjoern Jagland

    Former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs (Labour), former Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Norway as a small country benefits from having influence. But it’s urgent. Europe and the world are not waiting for us when weapons stop in Ukraine, writes Thorbjørn Jagland. The photo was taken ahead of a meeting between the European Union and NATO in Brussels on March 23.

The EU is a story of success and failure. Both sections suggest that Norway should enter and exit.

Chronicle
This is a chronicle. Opinions in the text are the author’s expense.

Over the past 20 years in particular, global powers have in their own way contributed to undermining the international legal order.

The latest and most bizarre example is the Russian attack on Ukraine. Therefore, it is not dangerous to predict that many will move when weapons stall in Ukraine, with grave consequences for Norway.

One example: If Sweden and Finland opted for NATO membership, Sweden, Finland and Denmark would not only have more influence than Norway in the EU. They will also have more influence than Norway in NATO.

Those who are not in both places will have less influence.

What are the benefits of Norway?

Norway has to start thinking about what we have benefited from, regardless of what happened to Sweden and Finland.

The European peace system proved untenable. This fact will not go unnoticed. Much will be decided in EU-NATO relations.

It will be important how relations with Russia and the United States are formed.

We must hope that the strong and unifying response that the EU gave to Russian President Vladimir Putin will manifest in Europe’s desire, through the EU, to have its own and stronger dimension in security policy.

But when the guns have died down, the celebration itself will also lead to self-examination. The question will be asked how in the world such a war could be started on a continent that has built such strong institutions.

Many factors into how the EU has failed with respect to Russia, and how the EU has failed to influence the United States to avoid making fatal mistakes, such as the invasion of Iraq, will be presented. EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has hinted at this.

We must be present in all arenas

The EU is a story of success and failure in terms of the organization’s role as a global player. Both sections suggest that Norway should enter and exit.

We have a strong security policy interest in influencing how relations between the EU and NATO will develop.

As Russia’s neighbors, we will have a lot to offer in the development of EU policy on Russia. This will apply even more in the future.

Russia will certainly appear as a loser after the war in Ukraine. But Russia will not disappear. Our neighbors will be there forever.

We must be present in all arenas when formulating policies.

Norway also has a large vested interest in influencing EU relations with the United States. Had the United States listened to big powers like France and Germany, the fatal invasion of Iraq would not have happened.

This speaks in favor of Europe getting a stronger voice in world politics. EU is the only player who can play that role.

the new order

The EU must also play an important role in improving the international legal order.

After World War II, the world had to move away from the world order created after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. It was built on the sovereignty of nation states.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter, which emerged after World War II, clearly limited national sovereignty. In Europe, a number of institutions were established to support this new order.

First comes the Council of Europe, which has the task of ensuring a common legal space based on human rights.

Then came the European Community, tasked with integrating countries economically and finally politically through the European Union.

In the midst of the Cold War, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe was held in Helsinki. The Final Act of Helsinki established the essential principles and conditions of the framework for European policy and became the forerunner of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).

Pan-European perspective

After the fall of Soviet communism, a pan-European perspective was completely on the agenda. A large number of countries, including Russia, are members of the common jurisdiction created by the European Convention on Human Rights and its courts.

For some countries, this paves the way for full EU membership. There is talk that the two military alliances that were at odds in the Cold War could be dissolved.

An alternative that is also seriously discussed is that Russia could join NATO. Mikhail Gorbachev comes to Strasbourg and talks about the “common European home”. But time will tell that nothing comes from this “house”.

Many countries remain outside the EU and NATO. This applies to some new states in the Balkans as well as some states in new Russia.

Ukraine and Georgia were promised NATO membership, but it was said this would not be done. Moldova, which may be in a position as vulnerable as the conflict frozen within its borders, has received no promises or guarantees.

A security structure that includes everyone

The countries left behind received promises, but no guarantees of security. Those who are inside or who are welcome in, go to great lengths to increase their security.

In 2021, the USAS military budget will be $754 billion. If we add up the total budgets of the European Union countries of 200 billion and the United Kingdom’s 76 billion, the number will be 1030 billion. Russia’s defense budget is 63 billion.

The gross domestic product of the United States, EU and UK is 39,000 billion, while Russia’s is 1,500 billion.

In other words, it is not military or economic inferiority that is the problem. The problem is that the same security principles enshrined in the Last Helsinki Act are not being implemented.

Thus we have Europe which, despite its immense power, has not been able to use it to avoid a terrible war.

When the celebrations themselves end and we have to partake of the tragic war in Ukraine, I hope Europe sees how we can create a security structure for the continent that includes everyone.

The global order must also be taken over. It is horrifying to see that the Security Council is merely a propaganda arena, and that the Secretary-General is most reminiscent of a speaker at the “Speakers’ Corner”, but without the power to do anything.

In other words, Europe must have the ambition to create a European security system for all and restore respect for international law. The European Union should play a major role in this.

Norway as a small country benefits from having influence. But it’s urgent. Europe and the world are not waiting for us when the weapons stop in Ukraine.


Elena Eland

"Web specialist. Incurable twitteraholic. Explorer. Organizer. Internet nerd. Avid student."

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