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EU global power Jorge Guerrero/AFP via Getty Images

Europe’s Moment of Truth

Many argue that Europe is too weak and divided to become a global power capable of filling the strategic void created by America’s inward turn, addressing China’s growing strength, and confronting Russian revisionism. Will the European Union’s new leaders prove the skeptics wrong?

In this Big Picture, Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, says that Europe must relearn the language of power and find the political will to realize its geopolitical potential. Likewise, Ana Palacio, a former Spanish foreign minister, suggests that Europe has massive diplomatic potential that can be realized only if it regains its collective self-confidence. More concretely, former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel and Michael Hüther of the German Economic Institute highlight five areas where Europe must take responsibility for its strategic interests.

But George Soros says European leaders do not fully recognize the threat that China under President Xi Jinping poses to the EU’s founding values, and urges them to challenge Xi over his failure to uphold human rights. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, meanwhile, says the EU should pursue a policy of wary strategic engagement with China, not least to help preserve the global trade system and tackle climate change.

Indeed, former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer argues that becoming a climate-policy great power should be Europe’s top priority. And economist Dambisa Moyo proposes a broader agenda, with the EU establishing itself as a global player in promoting trade, regulating Big Tech, mediating the US-China rivalry, and defending Western values.

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