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The Year Ahead 2019

Shaping Europe’s Present and Future

After a decade of economic and political crises, the project of European integration continues to face existential challenges. But while some observers worry about the EU’s future, its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is confident that through continued cooperation, Europeans can secure their interests even in an era of global upheaval.

As the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini has overseen EU foreign and security policy since November 2014. With her term coming to an end in 2019, Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations asked Mogherini about the state of European security, the future of the international order, arms control, migration, and a broad range of other issues.

Mark Leonard: So far, the European Union has demonstrated an ability to maintain its unity over key issues like Brexit and the maintenance of the post-Crimea sanctions on Russia. Is this unity likely to hold in 2019, particularly given the looming EU parliamentary elections and changes at the top of the European Commission and Council?

Federica Mogherini: The unity of our Union is much stronger than often perceived. What I see in my daily work is an EU that makes decisions jointly, implements them together, and – especially in the field of foreign and security policy – acts as one. Many complain about the lack of unity. But my impression is that these complaints derive more from a comfortable cliché that is repeated on the basis of past experiences, rather than from a realistic reflection on the situation today.

Obviously, we need to define what we mean by “unity.” It doesn’t mean uniformity. We number 28 – soon 27, which is still a lot. With 500 million people, the EU is the largest integration project ever realized. The EU is the biggest market in the world, and the second-largest economy. It comprises many different cultures, languages, and politics. History and geography have given us different backgrounds. It is only natural that this translates into different views, opinions, voices – even within each of our democratic societies.

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