LAUSANNE – The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference was an unmitigated disaster for the European Union. Instead of the EU claiming center stage, as its leaders assumed it would, the key actors were the United States, Brazil, South Africa, India, and China. Indeed, when the accord was reached, the EU was not even in the room. Copenhagen exposed the demise of Europe not only as a global power, but even as a global arbiter.
So what is the EU left with? As its “hard power” ebbs, its “soft power,” as illustrated by the Copenhagen summit, seems to be very weak. This in part arises from a failure to provide the EU with political power.
The Lisbon Treaty was a compromise constitutional arrangement that would nevertheless give the EU greater weight and authority precisely for occasions such as the Copenhagen summit, when global issues are addressed. Though multiple European actors on the world stage were more than justified in the old days, this is no longer the case. With China, India, the US, Indonesia, Brazil, and other major global players speaking with one voice, Europe could no longer afford a cacophony of voices.
But in Copenhagen, the structure established by the Lisbon Treaty failed.