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A Dose of Eurorealism

Summary:
Europe must not reject complacency by embracing declinism. Rather than resigning themselves to inevitable decline, Europeans should recognize and celebrate Europe's strengths, recognizing that its greatness consists in its being greater than the sum of its parts. MADRID – The narrative is becoming a trope: the United States and China are locked in a battle for global supremacy in myriad fields such as technology, commerce, defense, cyberspace, and even outer space. Few pundits question the general consensus that Sino-American relations will shape the history of the twenty-first century. But analyzing today’s geopolitical scene as a byproduct of a two-horse race is utterly simplistic and antiquated.

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Europe must not reject complacency by embracing declinism. Rather than resigning themselves to inevitable decline, Europeans should recognize and celebrate Europe's strengths, recognizing that its greatness consists in its being greater than the sum of its parts.

MADRID – The narrative is becoming a trope: the United States and China are locked in a battle for global supremacy in myriad fields such as technology, commerce, defense, cyberspace, and even outer space. Few pundits question the general consensus that Sino-American relations will shape the history of the twenty-first century. But analyzing today’s geopolitical scene as a byproduct of a two-horse race is utterly simplistic and antiquated.

Our world is better described not in black and white, but as a kaleidoscope of shifting patterns. One key source of color is the European Union. In the current international environment, the EU is less noticed than it should be, but more noticed than it thinks.

True, Europe lags behind the US and China in developing strategic technologies such as semiconductors and quantum computing. When the EU addresses the rest of the world, it often sounds more like a cacophony than a symphony. The rare harmonious choruses are frequently muffled. And many of the bloc’s citizens, perhaps recalling a time when Europe was home to the world’s undisputed great powers, now tend to disdain the EU’s contributions and belittle its room for maneuver.

But we Europeans should give ourselves more credit. Even skeptics must recognize that, at the very least, we have established a single market whose regulation depends exclusively on EU institutions. But while the EU’s commercial impact should therefore be measured in aggregate form, traditional analytical frameworks give primacy to states. This approach, together with the Sino-American “trade war,” has led us to exaggerate the economic weight of the US and China, to...

Javier Solana
President of @ESADEgeo - Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics. Distinguished Fellow at @BrookingsInst.

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