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Why Europe Cannot Be a Superpower

  • Zaki Laïdi
Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)

Abstract

Much plethora of research has been conducted on Europe’s power.1 But aside from the fact that it tends to concentrate particularly on procedures and discourses, it winds up stumbling upon the same enigma: Can Europe be a superpower? This question in turn raises two new questions: Is it conceivable for a political actor that is not a state—even if it seeks de facto acknowledgment as such, particularly by international institutions—to rise to the rank of a superpower? Even more fundamentally, is the European project compatible with the very idea of power? As we will see, these questions are essential. And the fact that they are posed with regard to Europe and not China, India, Brazil, or Russia shows that Europe is indeed a specific case. Its specificity is twofold. Not only because Europe’s political structure has no historical equivalent—it is not a state, even a federal one (and nothing indicates that it is on the way to becoming one)—but also because, like it or not, the philosophy of the European project is historically dominated by a refusal of power: “Cooperation between nations,” wrote Jean Monnet, “solves nothing. What we need to strive for is to merge European interests and not simply to balance them.”2

Keywords

Soft Power Military Power European Member State European Power European Arrest Warrant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Michael E. Smith’s book, Europes Foreign and Security Policy. The Institutionalization of Cooperation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004, is typical of this approach. His meticulous analysis of the procedures, regulations, and declarations is totally dissociated from any attempt to analyze their effectiveness or content.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jean Monnet, Mémoires, Paris, Fayard, 2004, p. 371.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Marie Mendras, “Back to Besieged Fortress?” (mimeo), March 2007.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    This point is remarkably shown in the study by A. Correljé and C. van der Linde, “Energy Supply Security and Geopolitics: A European Perspective,” Energy Policy 34 (5), March 2006, pp. 532–543.Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Javier Solana, A Secure Europe in a Better World. European Security Strategy. Brussels, December 12, 2003. Available at http://ue.eu.intueDocs/cros_Data/docs/pressdata/FR/reports/76256.pdf
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    H. Kissinger and L. Summers, Renewing the Atlantic Partnership, New York, Council on Foreign Relations, 2004.Google Scholar
  7. 21.
    On the details of the Europe-United States confrontation over Galileo, see the essay Bruxelles-Washington. La relation atlantique sur le métier. La République des Idées, by Florence Autret. Available at the Fondation Jean Jaurés Web site http://www.jean-jaures.org.
  8. 22.
    World Public Opinion, Views of European Unions Influence. Available at http://www.worldpublicopinion.orgpipa/articles/.
  9. 23.
    Peter Mandelson, “The Global Economic Agenda: Europe and India’s Challenge,” EU Commission, January 13, 2005. Available at http://www.ec.europa-eucommission_barroso/mandelson/speeches.
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  12. 33.
    See Zaki Laïdi, “Les métaphores du Titanic,” Tribune de Genéve, June 13–14, 1998.Google Scholar
  13. 34.
    Regarding these debates, see Philippe Crouzet and Nicolas Véron, “La mondialisation en partie double. La bataille des normes comptables,” Cahiers dEn Temps Réel (3), April 2002. Available at www.entempsreel.org.Google Scholar
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  16. 38.
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  17. 40.
    This indubitable reality carries no value judgment as to the legitimacy of such a regime. Tyler Cowen, for instance, believes that cultural trade fosters diversity within societies and reduces it between societies. Conversely, French-style cultural protectionism supposedly maintains a diversity between France and the United States, for example, but such protection translates into a reduction in the diversity within the national sphere (Tyler Cowen, Creative Destruction. How Globalization Is Changing Worlds Cultures, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2002). Françoise Benhamou confirms this last argument in showing that the increase in the proportion of French songs in musical programming—subject to quotas—leads to an unexpected reduction in the offer on the radio: fewer than 3% of titles make up 70% of the programming. Cultural exceptionalism thus does not coincide with cultural diversity. Needless to say that such an assertion virtually passes for blasphemy in France. (Françoise Benhamou, “L’exception culturelle. L’exploration d’une impasse,” Esprit 5, May 2004, pp. 85–113.)Google Scholar
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    Joseph Weiler, “Fédéralisme et institutionnalisme: Le Sonderweig européen,” in Renaud Dehousse (ed), Une constitution pour Europe? Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2002, p. 156.Google Scholar
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    Miguel Maduro, cited by Weiler, in “Fédéralisme et institutionnalisme,” p. 166.Google Scholar
  23. 58.
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    Jacques Lacan, Le Seminaire, Livre III, Les Psychoses, cited in Slavoy Zizek, Que veut lEurope? Réflexions sur une nécessaire réappropriation, Paris, Climats, 2005, p. 81.Google Scholar
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© Zaki Laïdi 2008

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  • Zaki Laïdi

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