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Europe has suffered a decade of crises, with sovereign-debt troubles leading to austerity policies that exacerbated divisions inside member states and between them. Thereafter the Union was confronted with the challenges posed by a revanchist Russia in Ukraine and by a surge in migration from the Middle East and other conflict zones. The June 2016 United Kingdom vote to leave the Union threatened further damage to an institution that acknowledges it has failed to punch its weight in the spheres of foreign, defence and security policy. While that is a chronic shortcoming, its impact is becoming more acute as economic power moves east and Europe can no longer count on the steadfast support and leadership of the United States. The costs of Europe’s failure to achieve strategic coherence and effect are steadily rising.

This Adelphi book addresses the consequences of Europe’s multiple crises for its standing as a strategic actor, acknowledging its unique character and capabilities. It argues that strategic thought and action are belatedly being informed by the deteriorating security environment, and that nascent initiatives have the potential to effect a step-change. There are grounds for cautious optimism, visible in the success of stabilisation and counter-piracy operations as well as coordinated diplomatic activity. Also, the continent’s leading powers are becoming more pragmatic about how cooperation is organised within and beyond the Union. These developments offer the possibility that Europe might meet its aspirations to be a strategic actor of consequence, despite a long-track record of disappointment and the still-considerable obstacles that lie in its path.

‘Sarah Raine’s deeply informed, crisply written and authoritatively argued book will, I predict, swiftly become the indispensable analysis of Europe’s prospects as a strategic actor. The fact that she is clear-eyed (and dryly humorous) about the flaws and failures of European foreign and security policy makes her take on its strengths and possibilities all the more compelling.’

Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe

‘Love it or loath it, there will be no European Army any time soon: this is one of the conclusions of this well thought-out assessment. It factors in the transformational impact of Europe’s internal travails against a rapidly deteriorating and unforgiving strategic backdrop. The book is required reading for anyone who wants to form an educated opinion on Europe’s ability or inability to face these challenges in terms of policies, capabilities, money and organisation.’

François Heisbourg, IISS Senior Adviser for Europe; former commission member of France’s White Paper on Defence and National Security

‘The book brilliantly takes the reader through the strategic challenges facing Europe and makes the unfashionable argument that Europe has scored some notable successes as well as the well-known disappointments. Europe must act quicker, be more joined up and solve the tension between national policies and collective outreach. Sarah Raine makes a cautiously optimistic case that it may indeed do so.’

Peter Round, former capabilities director, European Defence Agency

Politique et actualité
25 juin
International Institute for Strategic Studies

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