The European Union’s foreign policy chief warned that the “mounting security challenges” and the rise of far-right groups pose a threat to the bloc’s internal cohesion.
Speaking at the annual EU ambassadors conference in Brussels, Josep Borrell warned that “we must decouple the sources of our prosperity from our sources of security.”
He explained that the bloc’s prosperity was based on cheap gas from Russia and access to the big markets of China for export and import.
According to Borrell, with their cheap production costs, Chinese workers contributed more to keeping inflation low within the EU than “all the central banks together.”
“But Russia and China are not there anymore for our economy,” he said, adding that it will lead to “tough adjustment” and “create political problems” in the EU.
The West’s relations with Russia deteriorated further due to its war on Ukraine. The U.S., EU, and the U.K., among others, have imposed a raft of sanctions on Moscow, which include curbs on high-tech trade, ban on Russian oil, coal and gold imports, and the suspension of major Russian banks from the SWIFT payments system.
Russia has in turn cut gas supplies and global economies are struggling with high inflation and skyrocketing energy prices.
China, meanwhile, is perceived as an economic and military rival by the US and its allies. Beijing has not supported the war that started in February, but has criticized the “unilateral” sanctions.
NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept, a blueprint for the alliance for the next decade approved at its Madrid summit in June, accuses China of pursuing “coercive policies” that threaten NATO’s “interests, security and values.”
Borrell said “the radical right is increasing grasp on European politics,” adding that this development combined with the “mounting security challenges” in foreign policy poses a risk to the EU’s internal cohesion.
In the last month, far-right parties in Sweden and Italy had electoral breakthroughs and are set to form governments.
Referring to the changes in U.S. foreign policy during the presidency of Donald Trump, Borrell said the EU “needs to shoulder more responsibility” for assuring its own security.
Calling it “messy multipolarity,” Borrell said other important players of world politics, including Türkiye, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico, are “not always following” the EU in their foreign or economic policy choices.
He admitted that the EU failed to prepare for how other countries “will perceive the Brussels model.”
The bloc insisted on rational arguments, “underestimated the role of emotions and perceptions” and resisted acknowledging “the appeal of identity politics,” he said.
“The rest of the world is not ready to follow our model,” he argued, urging the EU to listen to the rest of the world with “more empathy.”