New Europe?
Is it a place for the US in new developments?

Online Expert Chat, 22-23 June 2020

2019-2020 brought a new reality to the European continent. Elections in Ukraine and Europe that changed significantly both political elites, pandemic response, increased Russian malign influence, and the US being more and more self-concentrated. During two-days-online-chat round table we will discuss what Is a new European landscape, is it a place for the US in it? Do Eastern Partnership states have their place in these new developments? What can be a new US role in the resolution of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, when Washington prefers Europe to be more active with the crisis at its continent? How Pandemic response can influence that relations between the US and the European countries, and where is Ukraine in all this.

Participants

Stanislav Secrieru, Senior Analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies, France / Moldova (MMF’11)

Olaf Boehnke, Berlin Director & Senior Advisor at  Alliance for Democracy, Germany (MMF’07)

Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Partner at CFC Big Ideas and a Co-Founder at Ukraine Crisis Media Center, Ukraine (MMF’18)

Ana Isabel Xavier, Associate Professor Of International Relations In Autonoma University In Lisbon and Deputy Director of Observare – Observatory Of Foreign Affairs, Portugal (MMF’16)

Moderator Hanna Shelest, Editor-in-chief, UA: Ukraine Analytica and Director of the Security Programs at Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism” (MMF’16)

The event is organized by UA: Ukraine Analytica. This project is supported financially by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and implemented by alumni of its leadership programs



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Hanna Shelest
Hanna Shelest
June 22, 2020 08:56

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me welcome you in our 2 days online conversation. These two days, we will speak about changes happening in Europe since 2019 from elections to COVID-19 and Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and is it a place for the United States in New Europe. 
So, as a moderator, let me ask you our first question – Is Europe changing? With European and Ukrainian elections in 2019, new European Commission, BREXIT and COVID-19 challenges in place, can we say that in a year or two, we will see a New Europe? 

Stanislav Secrieru
Stanislav Secrieru
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 22, 2020 09:52

Hi Hanna, Many thanks for initiating this exchange between MMF Alumni. To answer your question, if one looks back the European project is a never ending process of changes. It experienced a fair share of bitter setbacks but also amazing leap forwards. And this process is set to continue. You mentioned all the drivers which have been changing the EU recently and probably will keep shaping its agenda in future too. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has impacted how the EU deals with Russia. It also influenced EU’s neighbourhood policy. There were concerns that BREXIT will have contagious effect, but instead… Read more »

Ana Isabel Xavier
Ana Isabel Xavier
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 22, 2020 18:14

Regarding your one-million-euro question, I do not think the world or Europe will dramatically change in result of the challenges you mentioned. They all trigger an acceleration of trends that we are witnessing for some time and are still in process. What is rather curious is that after almost a decade of incessant drama – a financial disaster, followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, the migration crisis, the approval of Brexit in the 2016 referendum and the election of a US president who questions the transatlantic relationship – Europe was entering in a relatively stable… Read more »

Olaf Boehnke
Olaf Boehnke
June 22, 2020 13:20

Hello Hanna, thank you very much for the invitation to join this interesting group for such a timely discussion. My quick first reply would be: Europe has always been and will always be a continent in process. Due to a lack of global US leadership under President Trump, an emerging China, which demands more openly for its representation in global leadership and a Russian President, who continues his nationalistic agenda, the European Union is – once more – in a crucial situation to define how much of a global leader the EU27 wants to be. What seems to be clear… Read more »

Vasyl Myroshnychenko
Vasyl Myroshnychenko
June 22, 2020 14:10

I don’t think the EU will be able to reinvent itself in two years from now, but definitely it is going through tumultuous times now, which require fresh ideas and leadership to sustain and develop. UK’s departure from the Union was a major blow on the EU’s reputation globally, making the famous quote of “If you want to speak to the EU, who do you call?” even more pertinent providing leaders of the other great powers to negotiate directly with Paris or Berlin rather than with some unknown officials in Brussels.  As the result of the lockdown caused by the… Read more »

Hanna Shelest
Hanna Shelest
June 22, 2020 16:05

Some of you talked about greater European ambitions, and we can see it with adoption of the EU Global Strategy, which, however, lacks details. At the same time, the United States, under President Trump, is urging Europe to take bigger responsibility around its borders. Do you feel that the EU is ready to take this responsibility? In which spheres it can be, especially in relation to the Eastern European States, which are non-EU members. 

Ana Isabel Xavier
Ana Isabel Xavier
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 22, 2020 16:32

Regarding your one-million-euro question, I do not think the world or Europe will dramatically change in result of the challenges you mentioned. They all trigger an acceleration of trends that we are witnessing for some time and are still in process. What is rather curious is that after almost a decade of incessant drama – a financial disaster, followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, the migration crisis, the approval of Brexit in the 2016 referendum and the election of a US president who questions the transatlantic relationship – Europe was entering in a relatively stable… Read more »

Ana Isabel Xavier
Ana Isabel Xavier
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 22, 2020 17:09

Regarding the Estern European States, there is an obvious mutual moral demanding for the EU to give a proper answer to the expectations of non EU members that are neighbours and want to deepen that cooperation. The European Neigbourhood Policy remains an important instrument and with positive results. Still, it can be improved in terms of the follow up of the annual reports and the results in practice as there are plenty of room for improvements. An additional note, Ursula Von der Leyen has been insisting in the need of the EU to focus more in the geopolitics and be… Read more »

Stanislav Secrieru
Stanislav Secrieru
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 22, 2020 19:00

Hanna thank you for raising these questions. I would split my response in two parts.  First, President Trump is not the first one to urge Europe to be more active in the neighborhoods (at least in Eastern Europe). These calls are two decades old, which shows some consistency regardless whether Democrats or Republicans control the White House. Now, one cannot say that the EU has been seating idle. Instead of over-focusing on documents (e.g. Global Strategy), I would rather look at what happens on the ground. Through a trial-and-error approach, the EU designed and constantly tried to improve its policy… Read more »

Stanislav Secrieru
Stanislav Secrieru
Reply to  Stanislav Secrieru
June 22, 2020 19:01

Second, as the EU scales up its presence in the eastern neighborhood, it does not rule out continuous trans-Atlantic cooperation and coordination in the region. Both players are important for strengthening civil society, ensuring peaceful power transition, strengthening security, fighting corruption and conducting justice reform. The EU-US duo was instrumental for peaceful transfer of power in Moldova last summer. They also in different ways helped to beef up cyber security ahead of 2019 presidential elections in Ukraine. This year they have played crucial role in fostering accord between government and opposition in Georgia on electoral reform. While there are divergences… Read more »

Vasyl Myroshnychenko
Vasyl Myroshnychenko
June 22, 2020 18:41

According to John Bolton, President Trump cannot differentiate between the US national interests and his personal interests. Bolton argues that most of Trump’s foreign policy decisions were motivated by the forthcoming elections in 2020. President Trump is withdrawing the US leadership in the UN; bullying other NATO member-states; flatters Putin by granting him with high profile meeting in Helsinki and now hinting at reviving the G8. Trump delayed the allocation of aid for Ukraine allegedly seeking a quid pro quo from Ukraine’s new President and now engages into the trade war with China, which creates a great deal of uncertainty… Read more »

Hanna Shelest
Hanna Shelest
June 22, 2020 21:36

So let me continue. 2020 brought new developments that can seriously influence Europe and the US. COVID-19 accelerated already growing trend of populism in domestic politics of many countries. But also it showed interesting development in what countries have been supporting what countries. So saw unexpected help and partnership between different EU member states, and between EU and non-EU member states. At the same time, with much less US involvement (before the pandemic stroke New York) than many in Europe expected. Giving also a way for Russian propaganda talking that Brussels nor Washington were willing to help but Moscow (e.g. in Italy). So,… Read more »

Ana Isabel Xavier
Ana Isabel Xavier
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 23, 2020 02:17

I am not totally convinced that until November the Trump administration will give special relevance to the foreign affairs, unless it is useful for his campaign. In what concerns COVID 19, what we are witnessing in my opinion is the return to the national level, the national priorities and the national responses. Therefore, the pandemic responses are mostly national and not multilateral with little impact in the relations between the US and the European countries. In Europe, also the priorities are internal: the negotiations of the next EU’s budget, the containment of the spread of populist movements and the containment… Read more »

Stanislav Secrieru
Stanislav Secrieru
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 23, 2020 11:05

Overall dynamic in the trans-Atlantic relations will be shaped by more than just responses to COVID-19. For instance, the US decision to pull out from talks on global digital tax may amplify divergence in the coming months. And this need to be factored then one looks at the trajectory of the EU-US relations. As far as concerns COVID-19 we have not passed through the epidemy and thus it is too early to draw definitive conclusions. Three provisional takeaways. 1. COVID-19 narrowed the perception gap between the US and the EU on China. Sides may not see eye to eye on… Read more »

Olaf Boehnke
Olaf Boehnke
Reply to  Stanislav Secrieru
June 23, 2020 11:19

I would like to underline Stanislav’s second takeaway: As long as U.S. Congress is in a partisam deadlock, all eyes needs to be on the EU reform of the Digital Service Act (here is an excellent site on what happened so far, what is important to know and who is in the lead)! The EU already demonstrated that we have the power to set global standards, e.g for privacy with the GDPO, if we act together. So, the next stop will be regulatory standards for platforms.

Vasyl Myroshnychenko
Vasyl Myroshnychenko
June 23, 2020 08:36

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted many issues, which previously were not so salient. The deteriorating relations between the US and Europe is not one of those. However, there are many other nascent issues. For example, while curbing the spread of the virus some governments have introduced stringent surveillance over the people. It is enabled by the modern technology, but it undermines the human rights foundations and the right of people to privacy and personal freedom. Under the disguise of fighting the implications of the pandemic, Russia has attempted to initiate a UN resolution to lift all the sanctions imposed on… Read more »

Olaf Boehnke
Olaf Boehnke
Reply to  Vasyl Myroshnychenko
June 23, 2020 10:51

Unfortunately, Vasyl, European tech companies like Skype seem not to be amongst the champions when it comes to video conference. How could you have an advance of more than 6 years and then be overtaken by Zoom within 2 months 😉

Olaf Boehnke
Olaf Boehnke
June 23, 2020 11:09

In my view, the COVID-19 pandemic will have major implications for the international world order. In its long-term consequence, it revealed to all goverments in the world that given the current level of interconnectivity we better have a functional system in place if we want to survive. Some (especially non-democratic) governments might conced to this thesis only behind closed doors, and some ignorant heads of governments might not want to see or admit this fact at all, but times are changing. The conclusion for the EU comes with a simple hashtag: #bettertogether. These days borders within the Schengen area are… Read more »

Hanna Shelest
Hanna Shelest
June 23, 2020 11:20

So from the current crisis to the ongoing conflicts and problems. Even if protracted conflicts disappeared from the news headlines, it does not mean a security situation in the European neighborhood is improving. Russian malign influence in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Balkan states, many European capitals, and in the US beforehand of elections is continuing to be active. At the same time, it is a feeling that “new Europe” Is reluctant to deal with such security threats, and more or less satisfies that Washington deals with Kosovo-Serbia issues, Paris and Berlin with Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Therefore, do you feel that the EU… Read more »

Stanislav Secrieru
Stanislav Secrieru
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 23, 2020 16:18

I have not seen signs of the EU rolling back in the neighborhood in security realm. EUAM in Ukraine just opened the field office in Mariupol, the move which was difficult to imagine few years ago. Sanctions related to annexation of Crimea just have been prolonged for another year. Germany did attribute publicly to Russia 2015 cyber attack against Bundestag and is pushing within the EU for sanctions. And as we are are having this exchange the EU Special Rep for Western Balkans is meeting the President and PM of Serbia. Still plenty of things to do this year and… Read more »

Ana Isabel Xavier
Ana Isabel Xavier
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 23, 2020 20:15

Theoretically this new European Commission wants to commit with geopolitics and want the EU to strive for power. The neighborhood remains, in that context, a priority concern and parner for the EU. The enlargement to the balkans is relaunched and at the institutional point of view the EU remains committed with the sanctions against Russia because of Crimea. The hybrid dimension is a major concern for all the EU member states, not just for the Baltics. The CSDP missions and operations in the neighbourhood were renewed and keep their commitment with democracy, rule of law and good governance

Vasyl Myroshnychenko
Vasyl Myroshnychenko
June 23, 2020 16:06

Since its inception in 1993, the CFSP has been evolving slowly. Because of history and various foreign policy interests of the EU member-states, it is difficult to achieve consensus. The decision-making is based on the least common denominator. The establishment of the EEAS in 2011 has contributed to enhancing the EU foreign service capabilities. In the foreign policy, the EU has been the most successful in the area of enlargement, which is now stalled due to different positions of the EU countries on further expansion in the Western Balkans. Despite the internal differences, the EU has managed to maintain a unified… Read more »

Hanna Shelest
Hanna Shelest
June 23, 2020 16:31

So our last set of questions, that can help to conclude our 2 days discussions. Do you think that after the end of pandemic, we will see Europe stronger (unity and integration) or weaker (national egoism)? And what can be the main challenges for the Transatlantic relations for the next 5 years?

Stanislav Secrieru
Stanislav Secrieru
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 23, 2020 19:41

Optimist by nature I would bet on the first one. But it is not a blind optimism. At the outset the EU had slow and hesitant response. But in time, the EU managed to put its act together and also worked assiduously to avoid mistakes from previous crisis 2009-2009 (although of the different nature). The recovery fund proposed for consideration is one encouraging sign. Another plus is the speed with which the EU made available emergency aid and funding to the EaP states. Additional plus is how this funding was presented and communicated to wider public. The path of European… Read more »

Ana Isabel Xavier
Ana Isabel Xavier
Reply to  Hanna Shelest
June 23, 2020 20:27

At this moment, Europe is weaker because the pandemic is definetly showing more national egoisms. Therefore, after the end of pandemic, Europe will only be stronger if the negotiations of the next Multiannual financial framework (2021-2027), succeed in balancing the expectations and demands of the 27, specially if the frugal group acknowledges that the economic impact of the pandemics is stronger in the southern countries and the entire eurozone will consequently suffer instability of the markets and depreciation of the common currency. The main challenge for the transatlantic relation is, in my opinion, to recover the “faith” in multilateralism and… Read more »

Vasyl Myroshnychenko
Vasyl Myroshnychenko
June 23, 2020 17:26

They say each crises presents both threats and opportunities. Covid-19 has demonstrated the weaknesses of the WHO and public health international cooperation. The EU project was built on the economic foundation. Therefore the EU was good at uniting around a common economic recovery plan driven by Germany. Despite some initial hiccups within the EU at the outbreak of the pandemic, I believe the EU has gotten its act together and been able to communicate that it is stronger together. The challenges of the Transatlantic relations depend on the outcome of the Presidential elections in the US. If Trump is re-elected,… Read more »

Hanna Shelest
Hanna Shelest
June 24, 2020 12:25

Dear colleagues, thank you for your participation in our first online expert chat. If, as a moderator, I may conclude our two days conversations, so the summary will be as following. You all agreed that despite challenges that the EU has been facing for the last few years, we will not see a “new Europe” but rather updated and upgraded it variant. Lessons of 2008-2009 crisis were learnt, and despite all selfish or domestic oriented policies that we can see in response to pandemic, the EU and Europe as w hole is much more resilient now. With the US policy… Read more »

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