Robert Schuman Foundation’s Giuliani / Despite Election Result, US Won't Go Back to Pax America

It is essential for the EU to continue the dialogue with the Western Balkan countries and to give clear indications on EU accession. In this respect the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia is a good step forward. It must however also be clear that these negotiations will be long and that reforms are still necessary, said Jean-Dominique Giuliani  

By Genc Mlloja

Senior Diplomatic Editor

As the exclusive interview of Albanian Daily News with the President of the Robert Schuman Foundation, Jean-Dominique Giuliani was being held just on the eve of November 3 presidential election in the US one of the highlights of the talk was his expectation of the result and the future political position of the US in the new world order.

“Right now, in the polls, Mr. Biden is heading the race. So if he wins, a more friendly tone will probably be reestablished between the US and the EU,” said Mr. Giuliani, who however, cautioned that Europe must be aware of the fact that the US will not just go back to the Pax Americana that it was used to for such a long time.

“If Donald Trump wins again, his tone might get even more aggressive, because he will understand his victory as an endorsement of his politics. In any case, Europe must deal with the fact that it has to stand on its own feet,” he said.

Jean-Dominique Giuliani is the President of the Robert Schuman Foundation, which is a reference research centre, whose work supports European integration. Special Advisor to the European Commission, Jean-Dominique Giuliani was previously Maître des Requêtes at the State Council, and he was head of staff of the cabinet of the President of the Senate Mr. René Monory (1992-1998) and Manager at the Taylor Nelson Sofres group (1998-2001). In 2001, he founded his own business in international consulting: J-DG.Com International Consultants of which he is the chair. Mr. Giuliani co-directed the Permanent Atlas of the European Union, Lignes de Repères, 2012, and has published several books and articles on European integration topics and is a regular speaker at conferences on EU subjects.

In a comment on the Conference on the Future of Europe, which will be held soon, Mr. Giuliani said the EU should get away from the taboo on the reopening of the European Treaties. ”The Conference on the Future of Europe might give some incentives to think about this more seriously. Such in-depth deliberation on Europe and its institutions might make the EU also more fit for its actions on the world stage.”

Touching upon the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the UN he said that event has been a noticeable confrontation of multilateralism and isolationism. “The EU stands firmly by its multilateral convictions as many of its representatives have also stated on the occasion of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations. The US position might change again if Mr. Biden is elected, but probably this shift cannot be expected to be very dramatic,” he believed.

But the senior French politician thinks that in any case, the corona crisis has been another major event among others that has brought the EU to the understanding that it must position itself more strongly and independently on the world stage, which it is already doing now. “We have a geopolitical Commission under the President Ursula von der Leyen that wants to affirm European interests and also its values more strongly outside of Europe. And multilateralism remains one of its main policy pillars.”

According to him, the EU still needs to find a common voice on issues such as Turkey, Russia or China and in many fields the Union has to find its strategic autonomy in order to stay strong in a world where Europe has fewer allies and more former partners that act like enemies.

Asked about the EU accession of the countries of the Western Balkans to the European Union he said it is of strategic importance for the Union as it contributes to the pacification of this border region, opens up new economic prospects and participates in the construction of Europe. “It is therefore essential for the EU to continue the dialogue with these countries and to give clear indications. In this respect the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia is a good step forward. It must however also be clear that these negotiations will be long and that reforms are still necessary.”

According to Mr. Giuliani, the involvement of the United States in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, which has been conducted under the aegis of the European Union since 2011, from an economic aspect can be a good thing because it complements the political action of the EU and can help the EU to deepen its action to normalize relations between the two countries. “In the long term, bringing them ever closer to the EU could be a solution to ensure a prosperous peace in the Balkans,” he believes.

Mr. Giuliani is of the opinion that in today’s geopolitical climate, more military cooperation on the European level is necessary and progress is being made. “This progress might seem slow but this is a very complicated and sensitive issue for the member states with many different military and security approaches amongst them.” Concerning the European Peace Facility in particular, this can be seen as a useful instrument, especially because it allows member states to act off budget and because it allows them to act more quickly than the current mechanism Athena as it operates on a more permanent basis, said the President of the Robert Schuman Foundation, Jean-Dominique Giuliani in the following interview:

Albanian Daily News: At the outset Mr. Giuliani thank you for the opportunity to share your expertise on European and world affairs as President of the outstanding Robert Schuman Foundation. Let me start, Your Excellency, with a sensitive issue raised by you from time to time on the reasons why European countries have sunk into health anxiety, taking decisions that are irreparably damaging to their economies and restricting freedoms?

Jean-Dominique Giuliani: This crisis seems overwhelming for all actors of the European societies: the governments want to take action but do not really know how to approach this new complex issue sufficiently, science has not delivered any final solutions yet, and the citizens demand to be protected but do not wish to be deprived of their liberties, and fear creeps up in all of these sectors.

Fear is not a good advisor when we need to take rational decisions. History should remind us of this fact. We need more courage, modesty and cooperation on the European and national levels so that we do not go too far with the current restrictions. We need to be careful to preserve our European way of living in freedom and openness.

- Mr. Giuliani the Conference on the Future of Europe will be held soon and you have expressed many proposals on this cardinal issue. Which are your expectations from such an event particularly with regard to EU's foreign affairs policies?  

 - We need to think about the governance of the EU and how to improve it so that the Institutions can work together in a more efficient way. We also have to get away from this taboo, which is the reopening of the European Treaties, and the Conference on the Future of Europe might give some incentives to think about this more seriously. Such in-depth deliberation on Europe and its institutions might make the EU also more fit for its actions on the world stage.

- The coronavirus is considered as 'a game changer' altering the context of foreign affairs and global security issues, adding to socio-economic as well as political risks. Which will be the role of the EU in the Post-Covid world in face of the US, the strategic ally, which has opted for an outright isolationist stance undermining the multilateral system?

- The 75th anniversary of the foundation of the UN has been a noticeable confrontation of multilateralism and isolationism. The EU stands firmly by its multilateral convictions as many of its representatives have also stated at the occasion of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations. The US position might change again if Mr. Biden is elected, but probably this shift cannot be expected to be very dramatic.

In any case, the corona crisis has been another major event among others that has brought the EU to the understanding that it must position itself more strongly and independently on the world stage, which it is already doing now. We have a geopolitical Commission under the President Ursula von der Leyen that wants to affirm European interests and also its values more strongly outside of Europe. And multilateralism remains one of its main policy pillars.

However, we still need to find a common voice on issues such as Turkey, Russia or China. In many fields, we have to find our strategic autonomy in order to stay strong in a world where Europe has fewer allies and more former partners that act like enemies. This will be ever more important on an economic and security level post-covid as new power structures are emerging right now on the world stage.

-Let me turn, Sir, to my country Albania and the region- the Western Balkans where all the countries are on track of EU accession. Do you think that it is high time to offer a more realistic membership perspective for the regional countries, and to be concrete to start the first intergovernmental session of the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia within this year?

-The accession of the countries of the Western Balkans to the European Union is of strategic importance for the Union as it contributes to the pacification of this border region, opens up new economic prospects and participates in the construction of Europe. In addition, the region is of growing interest to foreign powers such as China, which is its second largest trading partner after the EU, and is investing heavily in the region's infrastructure as part of the Belt and road initiative.

It is therefore essential for the EU to continue the dialogue with these countries and to give clear indications. In this respect the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia is a good step forward. It must however also be clear that these negotiations will be long and that reforms are still necessary.

-As we are talking on the WB, please let me touch upon the progress of Pristina- Belgrade dialogue, which incidentally has taken a new twist with the energetic involvement of the US in it. In your view, Your Excellency, how much efficient could the two strands of the dialogue, supposedly the economic aspect led by Washington and the political one by Brussels, be?

-Since 2011, the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo has been conducted under the aegis of the European Union. While progress has been made, efforts remain to be done. So, the involvement of the United States in this dialogue, from an economic aspect, can be a good thing because it complements the political action of the EU and can help the EU to deepen its action to normalize relations between the two countries. In the long term, bringing them ever closer to the EU could be a solution to ensure a prosperous peace in the Balkans.

-There is talk on a European Peace Facility supposed to beef up its presence in the neighborhood and other parts of the world. What do you think of such an initiative and in general should Europe pay much more attention to its military capacities in face of growing international tensions and a reluctance of the US to play its previous role? I have to bring to the attention the current state of NATO when some of its member countries like Greece and Turkey have been on the brink of military confrontation and on the other hand tension between France and Turkey is at the highest level.

-Yes, in today’s geopolitical climate, more military cooperation on the European level is necessary and progress is being made. This progress might seem slow but this is a very complicated and sensitive issue for the member states with many different military and security approaches amongst them. Simply take the example of France and Germany that have very different views of how defense should be organised on the European level but they still come together, talk and put in place common actions. Of course, much remains to be done and you are pointing directly towards the big issues at the moment: Turkish military actions in the European Mediterranean area, there is still Russia’s hybrid war that we have to consider, and of course the departure of the UK – leaving France as the only permanent member of the Security Council amongst EU member states.

Concerning the European Peace Facility in particular, this can be seen as a useful instrument, especially because it allows member states to act off budget and because it allows them to act more quickly than the current mechanism Athena as it operates on a more permanent basis. It must be noted that of now, this mechanism has not been implemented yet. However, it can be regarded as one of the many steps towards more and more effective cooperation on the European scene in military and defense terms.

-In conclusion, Mr. President US, Europe's closest strategic ally, is heading to the 'grand final' of the presidential electoral race. Which are your expectations of the result and the future political position of the US in the new world order after November 3, 2020?     

-Right now, in the polls, Mr. Biden is heading the race. So if he wins, a more friendly tone will probably be reestablished between the US and the EU. However, this clearly does not mean that relations will immediately go back to where they were for a long time beginning with the end of WWII. The US has been withdrawing from international affairs for quite some time now and this has not only started with Mr. Trump. Europe must therefore be aware of the fact that the US will not just go back to the Pax Americana that we were used to for such a long time.

If Donald Trump wins again, his tone might get even more aggressive, because he will understand his victory as an endorsement of his politics. In any case, Europe must deal with the fact that it has to stand on its own feet. /ADN