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El informe de la Comisión Europea del pasado junio indica que la seguridad constituía una de las tres prioridades que más preocupan a los ciudadanos de la Unión y que más del 75% de los europeos están a favor de crear una defensa común. El propio presidente de la Comisión, Jean Claude Juncker, ha llegado a afirmar en su presentación que “el derecho a sentirse seguro y protegido en su propia casa es el más básico y universal de todos”. Se ha lanzado así un mensaje de unidad y de proyección hacia el futuro en unos momentos en los que Europa parece haberse dado cuenta de que está más sola que nunca en el mundo y de que la inestabilidad en su periferia y la amenaza terrorista la han vuelto más vulnerable y más frágil.

En un entorno internacional caracterizado por acontecimientos profundamente desestabilizadores como las primaveras árabes, la intervención rusa en Crimea y Ucrania, el auge del terrorismo yihadista, o las crisis migratorias, la respuesta a estos grandes desafíos comienza por redefinir cuáles son los intereses de seguridad de la UE, lo que debe hacerse desde una aproximación menos ideológica basada en los valores y más realista basada en las preocupaciones de seguridad europeas. En función de los intereses, la UE debe decidir cuáles son los grandes objetivos estratégicos que, en materia de seguridad y defensa, pretende alcanzar. Estos objetivos, una vez aceptados por todos, constituyen la base para desarrollar una política de defensa propiamente europea.

A continuación, hay que priorizar los principales riesgos y amenazas para la seguridad de Europa, ya identificados en la Estrategia Global de junio de 2016, de manera que se pueda desarrollar las líneas de acción estratégica más eficaces para hacerles frente. El último paso sería aprobar los medios necesarios para conseguirlo. En definitiva, es necesario diseñar una política de seguridad y defensa coherente, integral y creíble adaptada a los desafíos de seguridad que plantea a la Unión un mundo en cambio. El nivel de ambición debe ser el de convertir a la Unión Europea en un verdadero actor global, lo que implica reforzar sus estructuras de gestión de crisis, dotándolas de las capacidades apropiadas, así como el reforzamiento racional y sinérgico de la industria de defensa.

El primer paso para lograrlo sería lanzar definitivamente la cooperación estructurada permanente (PESCO) contemplada en los artículos 42 y 46 del Tratado de Lisboa, identificando a aquellos países que están dispuestos a participar en el desarrollo de capacidades y en el despliegue de misiones militares europeas. En base a los mismos, se podría crear una fuerza europea de proyección y de protección completamente integrada y autónoma capaz de intervenir, bien en el interior del territorio de la Unión, o bien más allá de las fronteras de Europa en un plazo de tiempo muy corto. Se podrían aprovechar inicialmente los actuales 15 “grupos de combate” de entidad batallón empleándolos en operaciones reales tanto no ejecutivas (como son las de entrenamiento) como propiamente ejecutivas, con lo que se lanzaría un mensaje claro acerca de la voluntad de la UE de hacer valer su voz como actor internacional. Previamente habría que lograr que las decisiones políticas sobre su utilización se tomasen en el ámbito de las instituciones europeas, limitando el derecho de veto de los socios. También habría que mejorar su modularidad y una mayor integración operativa de sus distintos componentes nacionales.

En segundo lugar, sería necesario crear un presupuesto europeo de defensa para financiar todas las operaciones propiamente europeas, que vaya más allá del actual mecanismo Athena. Para dotar este presupuesto de manera independiente a los presupuestos nacionales, se podría aprovechar los compromisos asumidos por los estados de incrementar sus presupuestos de defensa hasta el 2% del PIB.

Un tercer paso, derivado del anterior, vendría dado por la necesidad de coordinar, por medio de revisiones periódicas, los distintos procesos de planeamiento nacionales de la defensa integrándolos en el proceso del planeamiento propiamente europeo desarrollado por su Estado Mayor, de manera análoga a como lo ha hecho la OTAN durante décadas. Se lograría, con ello, tener una visión general y realista de las necesidades de defensa de la Unión, así como de los gastos de defensa y de las inversiones nacionales en adquisiciones, investigación y desarrollo en ese ámbito. En esta misma dirección, estaría la necesidad de crear un Cuartel General conjunto, independiente de los ofrecidos por las naciones, que fuera responsable del planeamiento, coordinación y conducción de todas las operaciones de la UE.

En cuarto lugar, y derivado del anterior, la UE debería financiar aquellas capacidades críticas que por su precio o especial complejidad no pudieran adquirir o desarrollar los estados miembro por sí solos, así como apoyar a los Estados miembros en la consecución de capacidades propias necesarias para hacer frente a las amenazas, riesgos y retos estratégicos presentes y futuros. Ello exige diseñar nuevos instrumentos para financiar el desarrollo de capacidades y la cooperación en materia de defensa apoyando la industria europea de defensa y la innovación tecnológica y promoviendo la cooperación reforzada en materia de defensa. La propuesta de la Comisión de crear un fondo común dotado de 1500 millones de euros anuales para nuevos equipos e investigación militar constituye un avance, si bien insuficiente si lo comparamos con otras potencias globales, en la buena dirección.

Finalmente, habría que unificar los procedimientos y doctrinas de las Fuerzas Armadas de los distintos países de manera que pudiera garantizarse la interoperabilidad de las mismas en todo momento. Se podrían crear academias militares europeas que garantizasen que todo el personal militar adquiriese la misma formación independientemente de su país de procedencia. Un primer paso en esta dirección sería generalizar los “erasmus” militares e incrementar los ejercicios combinados del personal militar de los distintos países.

En definitiva, se trata de impulsar la integración en el campo de la seguridad y la defensa, de manera que Europa adquiera la suficiente masa crítica como para convertirse en un verdadero actor estratégico consolidándose como un proveedor de seguridad internacional. En los tiempos del Brexit, de los populismos, del alejamiento estratégico de los Estados Unidos y del incremento de las amenazas a la seguridad europea en el Este y en el Sur, apostar por la defensa de Europa supone hacerlo por el futuro de una Unión Europea más fuerte y más centrada en sus propios intereses y en los de sus ciudadanos, dispuesta a jugar un papel pragmático y activo, incluso de liderazgo, en la escena internacional.

Ignacio Fuente Cobo. Coronel de Artillería DEM. Instituto Español de Estudios Estratégicos.

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The EU is prepared for a ‘no deal’ scenario in a way that the UK government and the wider public perhaps fail to appreciate. This is because the EU and the UK approach the withdrawal negotiations with radically different understandings of the purpose of the process of exiting the current EU treaty-based system. Consequently, the EU is fundamentally prepared to withstand one or both of two “no deal” scenarios: no formal withdrawal agreement or no new trade deal to regulate access to each side’s market.

The British debate – within government and amongst key stakeholders – over leaving the EU, following the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, has been dominated by the question of whether this exit will be “hard” or “soft”. The latter option relates to retaining membership of the single market and/or the Customs Union, reliance on WTO trading rules and no actual FTA with the EU is the hardest of exits, while a formal transition period that gradually uncouples rules and relations is a temporary middle ground softening the move towards a hard break. The principal concern of the UK negotiating team is thus the nature of the final destination.

By contrast, for the EU, Brexit is first and foremost matter of principle, not a wrangle over what form it takes; from an EU perspective, the hard/soft distinction is not a meaningful component of the objectives of the Article 50 talks. What the EU privileges is a phased approach to negotiations that first creates an orderly withdrawal; it is officially agnostic regarding the final terms of future UK-EU relations.

The British Prime Minister’s Florence speech last September helped smooth the way towards agreement in December over Phase I of the Brexit negotiations. This was in large part because she took the opportunity to clarify the UK position on its financial liabilities. Yet the speech largely functioned as a placeholder for the more long-lasting issues by reiterating the desire to embark on trade talks as soon as possible and invoking creativity to craft a bespoke arrangement on the back of a transitional status. The intention was clear: to highlight that the EU is just as implicated in the task of settling the kind of Brexit that will occur.

Hence the Prime Minister’s position still overlooks the fact that the EU privileges process over content in approaching the free trade component of the Brexit talks. The content the EU wished to find an agreement on in the first phase concerned citizens’ rights, financial liabilities, and the Irish border. Now the second phase of the Article 50 talks is dominated by the question of what a transition period will look like. However, the two negotiating teams are divided on the terms of transition and how the phase I agreement will become law for the UK. In reality, therefore, they are focused on different outcomes as the EU insists on clarifying the process of leaving while the UK seeks to move the conversation on to a “deep and special partnership” in the future.

The problem of bridging this gap between the two sides is what creates a genuine risk of a no deal scenario arising, with neither side necessarily at fault because the timeline is so short. Wrangling over the terms by which the UK will leave inevitably comes at the expense of taking time to address future relations. On that basis, it would be extremely prudent for the UK government to accelerate planning for leaving the EU at 2300 on 29 March 2019 with no new trade agreement.

There is a further risk that the mooted “implementation period” creates false expectations amongst the public that negotiations cannot fail. Temporizing measures to allow new institutional structures to be put in place are potentially an attractive proposition for both parties. Yet any transitional status still needs to be agreed within the existing timeframe of Article 50 talks – unless all UE countries agree to a request or put forward a proposal to extend them – and would have to determine a precise future relationship that currently is not on the official agenda. Moreover, transition arrangements are conditional on successfully concluding terms of withdrawal.

The above analysis suggests the UK government needs to be fully prepared for a no deal scenario because the EU is, understandably given its preferences, inflexible in seeking orderly withdrawal above anything else. It is also of equal importance to manage public expectations to that effect, especially when discussing a putative implementation period that can too easily be misinterpreted as a way of automatically “buying time” for talks to continue. There is nothing automatic about transitioning to a new EU-UK relationship and it would be best to ensure the British public is fully aware of this.

Dr. Arthur Glencross, Senior Lecturer Dept. of Politics and International Relations School of Languages and Social Sciences
Birmingham, B4 7ET, United Kingdom

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Quando i fatti contraddicono il nostro modo di pensare consolidato abbiamo due possibilità: cambiare modo di pensare o negare i fatti, minimizzarli, derubricarli ad eccezione. Cambiare modo di pensare è faticoso, difficile. Ci costringe a trovare nuove spiegazioni, magari nuovi comportamenti. Mettere la testa sotto la sabbia invece è facile e immediato. Purtroppo è quanto molti stanno facendo di fronte ad una situazione che in Italia è davvero pericolosa. L'idea che la democrazia - conquistata con il sacrificio di molte persone - sia una conquista irreversibile sebbene storicamente infondata è molto rassicurante, e abbandonarla implica che ciascuno di noi è chiamato a comportamenti volti a difenderla. Quanto sta accadendo in Polonia e Ungheria dovrebbe ammonirci sulla facilità con cui la democrazia può esser messa sotto scacco.

Il XX secolo ci ha mostrato che il nazionalismo in ultima istanza porta alla violenza e alla negazione della democrazia. Per questo oggi i nazionalisti si presentano sotto altri nomi, come sovranisti, populisti, ecc. Ma il risultato non cambia. E il diffondersi della violenza nei social e nella realtà è lì a ricordarcelo.

Gli attacchi violenti sui social a personalità istituzionali come Laura Boldrini sono stati frequenti in questi anni, ma durante la campagna elettorale c'è stata un'escalation. Ormai vengono minacciate per le loro idee anche persone fuori dall'arena politica. Ieri su twitter un delirante auto-proclamato sovranista - con un account ovviamente anonimo e che si vanta di cambiarli spesso per poter continuare a minacciare le persone per bene - ha minacciato la giornalista Antonella Rampino, il direttore del Centro Studi sul Federalismo di Torino, Flavio Brugnoli, e Più Europa per le loro posizioni europeiste, scrivendo "è a quelli come te che dovremmo sparare". Il riferimento a quanto accaduto a Macerata e l'identificazione con il terrorista Traini è palese. Sì, ho usato la parola terrorista, perché se un musulmano andasse in giro in una nostra città sparando sugli italiani lo considereremmo un terrorista; non saprei dunque come definire altrimenti Traini.

Ma mettiamo in fila alcuni eventi delle ultime settimane. Il candidato leghista alla presidenza della Regione parla di "difesa della razza bianca". Un fascista negli anni '30 non avrebbe usato espressione diversa. Nel XXI secolo ci si potrebbe attendere che il suo partito ritiri tale candidatura e lo cacci. Invece no: espressione infelice, ma evidentemente condivisa nel partito, e tutto come prima. Un candidato leghista alle amministrative del 2017 (non secoli fa), militante fidato, tanto da far parte del servizio d'ordine in uno dei comizi di Matteo Salvini, va in giro per Macerata sparando alle persone di colore. Per Salvini "è colpa di chi apre le porte ai migranti" e non si tratta di fascismo - il materiale fascista e nazista trovato in casa di Traini era dunque lì per caso. D'altronde anche in passato esponenti leghisti hanno proposto di usare la Marina per sparare contro i barconi di migranti. Nel suo governo Salvini vorrebbe ministri Borghi e Bagnai, i punti di riferimento dei sovranisti italiani e fautori dell'uscita dall'Euro e dall'UE - visto che giuridicamente si può uscire dall'UE, non dall'Euro.

Di fronte a tutto questo sarebbe lecito attendersi una critica e una presa di distanza dagli auto-proclamati "moderati", dagli esponenti italiani del Partito Popolare Europeo. Invece nulla: tranquilli, Salvini quando si siede al tavolo è ragionevole, indipendentemente da tutto quello che dice. O sono alleati con qualcuno che mente sapendo di mentire o è uno straordinario esempio di testa sotto la sabbia.

La realtà è che alle urne la scelta sarà tra l'Europa e il fascismo. Perché solo a livello europeo è possibile dare risposta ai maggiori problemi. Serve un governo federale per superare l'assurda situazione di un mercato unico, una moneta unica e 19 politiche economiche e fiscali; per gestire una politica estera, di sicurezza, delle migrazioni con l'obiettivo dello sviluppo e della stabilizzazione dell'Africa e del Medio Oriente, della gestione dei flussi migratori e di una vera integrazione. Senza mettere l'UE in condizione di dare risposte reali ai problemi - impossibili con un bilancio dello 0,9% del PIL - si affermeranno le risposte identitarie/psicologiche del ritorno alle sovranità nazionali. Che non esistono più e non possono esistere nel mondo globale del XXI secolo. I portatori di queste soluzioni illusorie una volta al potere per rimanervi non possono che cercare capri espiatori, sopprimere la libertà di stampa e di associazione, soggiogare la magistratura - come sta avvenendo in Ungheria e Polonia. E non a caso per Salvini l'Ungheria è il modello, lo Stato meglio governato d'Europa ...

Molti in passato si sono illusi di addomesticare fascisti e nazisti e di usarli per i propri scopi. Sappiamo com'è andata a finire. Attenzione a chi si balocca con la stessa idea pur di tornare al potere: a giocare con il fuoco ci si brucia.

@RobertoCastaldi

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The permissive consensus that characterised the formation and first decades of operation of the EU has progressively been replaced by the so-called ‘democratic deficit’, which has been defined as the fact that European citizens have few opportunities to influence EU policy outcomes and decisions or that the EU is not accountable enough to its citizens (McCormick, 2014: 104). This was particularly noticeable during the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty, which, after being rejected in referenda in France and the Netherlands, was nonetheless mostly implemented with only minor changes through the Treaty of Lisbon. More recently, the democratic credentials of the Union have been further negatively affected by the economic crisis, given that since then the troika -unaccountable to citizens- has largely taken control of economic and monetary policy at the expense of elected institutions, such as the European Parliament (EP) (Fossum, 2014: 60-65).

Thus, the above events have provided an ideal context for the spark of criticisms against the original federal idea of expanding the powers of the EP to legitimise the EU by those in favour of a more intergovernmental approach, such as Vitkovitch (2015: 18), who advocates for avoiding further expansion of the EP’s powers and giving national parliaments more supervision rights as a means to reduce the EU’s perceived democratic deficit.

However, before dismissing supranational institutions, it would be pertinent to assess their representativeness, in particular that of the EP, which is the only directly elected EU institution. For example, if we concentrate on analysing the voter-MEP congruence of a ‘hard case’ such as UKIP (given their Eurosceptic stance within an EU institution), during the three first years of the current EP mandate, it is possible to conclude that UKIP MEPs like Farage, Nuttall and O’Flynn represent fairly well the views of UK citizens, at least across two of the three dimensions typically established to determine linkage: the EU, the socio-cultural and the economic dimensions.

In regards to the EU dimension, for example by constantly labelling the EU of undemocratic, UKIP MEPs reflect the opinion of a majority of UK citizens who consider that their ‘voice doesn’t count in the EU’. They also oppose initiatives that require further integration, such as the creation of an EU army, along with over 50% of citizens. Similarly, in relation to the socio-cultural dimension, it seems that the three MEPs mentioned above do also represent the fact that immigration is the top concern of UK citizens at national and EU levels by calling for migration controls and complaining about the inability of the UK to control its borders as a result of its EU membership. As far as the economic dimension is concerned, UKIP’s outright rejection of the Euro does also seem to match the average opinion of citizens. However, in spite of these matching views, some congruence gaps can also be observed, e.g. Nuttall and O’Flynn oppose TTIP while, according to polling data, a majority of the population is actually in favour of such initiative, or the highly negative vocabulary used by UKIP MEPs in relation to the EU (defunct, unable, doomed, etc.) does not match the fact that a slight majority of the population in the country did not actually have a negative image of the EU during the timeframe studied. Nevertheless, the biggest issue relates to the economic sphere, due to the party’s lack of initiatives to solve some of the most important concerns of citizens: unemployment or inflation, which underlines its protest-based nature and seriously undermines the representation of this particular area.

These mismatches can be explained by the low turnout to EP elections (35.60% in the UK in 2014) given their second-order character, since they are generally fought on national issues by national politicians and do not result in government formation. However, a majority of those who voted -‘core’ Eurosceptic UKIP voters and ‘strategic’ supporters that vote for UKIP just in EP elections to show their Euroscepticism (Ford et al., 2012)- can be said to be fairly well represented. This implies that the higher the turnout, the higher the congruence would be, which, therefore, underlines the need for increasing turnout in order to improve the EP’s representativeness. This could be achieved by politicising the EU and presenting competing positions for EP elections (Follesdal & Hix, 2006). But for this ballot to become first order, it would also be necessary to provide this elected body with the power to create legislation rather than leaving this crucial task to the unelected Commission. Alternatively, it would also be pertinent to elect the Commission by universal suffrage. Moreover, in relation to the current institutional setup of the Union, it can be said that the rather positive discursive representation of UKIP is compromised by the party’s record-low voting in the EP (Hix et al., 2016). Therefore, an immediate step to improve representation through this institution would be to ensure that MEPs vote regularly.

In any case, the fact that overall voter-MEP congruence exists -albeit to different levels depending on the issue or dimension- does not then justify intergovernmental calls for reducing the role of the EP. The reforms suggested above, coupled with existing initiatives to provide citizens with opportunities to propose or contest legislation, such as the Citizens’ Initiative (directly) or the Early Warning Mechanism (through national parliaments), can not only improve the representation of citizens whilst also providing them with constitutional agency, but also they would encourage the emergence of a European demos, which according to critics does not currently exist, thus adding legitimacy to the EU’s political system (cf. Glencross, 2014).

Posted by Sara Aguilar-Suárez, MA candidate in "The European Union and International Relations" at Aston University

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