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Which Way Now for the EU?

Calls for Europe to strengthen its “strategic sovereignty” often imply that a more integrated European Union should become the third pillar of a “G3” world alongside the United States and China. But if the EU tries to become a pure power player in a transactional game of realpolitik, Europe’s soft power will weaken.

WASHINGTON, DC – With the main European Union institutions preparing for a change of leadership this autumn, now is a good time to reflect on the EU’s priorities for the coming years.

The EU’s new top team is all but confirmed. Ursula von der Leyen, the former German defense minister, will be the next president of the European Commission, while Christine Lagarde, the outgoing managing director of the International Monetary Fund, will take over at the European Central Bank. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel will be the next president of the European Council, and Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell is poised to become the EU’s new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Several commentators say the EU’s new leaders should seek to strengthen Europe’s “strategic sovereignty” through greater pooling of member states’ resources and much closer policy coordination. This is certainly much needed, not least on eurozone matters. But calls for increased strategic sovereignty often imply that a more integrated EU should become the third pillar of a “G3” world alongside the United States and China. And that is insufficient.

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