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Is the European Union


PressInfo # 231

 December 9, 2005


Jan Oberg, TFF director

You've heard it like a mantra: the EU is an actor for peace in Europe (8 pct of the world's population) and outside it (92 pct).

True, it has made a contribution to heal Europe after 1945.True, as one actor it has done nothing like the US in Iraq. True, it is great that it young people can learn and work in different parts of Europe. True, it gives much more development aid than others. And true, that integration of countries seems to have reduced the risk of future inter-national warfare on European soil.

But then there is the famous other side of the coin: it's Treaty text is devoid of peace philosophy, policies and institutions. Read it and you are in for a surprise!

It lacks every strategy to reduce direct, structural, cultural and environmental violence inside and outside Europe. Its basic security "philosophy" is outlined in "A Secure Europe in a Better World. European Security Strategy (2003), a 16-pages document signed by Javier Solana. It is little but a random collection from different sources, presumably some of his speeches. It's pretty self-congratulatory; EU has succeeded so well already in making peace. It has no theory or concept, no analysis and its list of threat against the EU - terrorism and nuclear proliferaton topping that list - is a replica of that of the Bush administration.

One must be surprised that many more security and peace intellectuals have not highlighted this document's superficiality. (TFF Associate Johan Galtung has.) What an insult to the 450 million EU citizens to produce such a qualitatively and quantitatively thin document as the basis for their future security and peace, not to speak about the rest of the world that the EU professes to make peace in!

It requires of its members that they must increase their military strength; it connects most closely to NATO of all the world's organisations - not the UN or OSCE - and it establishes the basis of a European military-industrial complex. It centralised security affairs at its very top and leaves its Parliament without any substantial influence on these affairs.

The Charter of the United Nations is a hundred times more visionary and peace-oriented than this outdated Treaty. And the Treaty has been read by maximum 1 per cent of the Europeans. The reason? It is 474 pages long, partly unreadable, and regulates details that never belonged to a Constitution.

In addition, the EU has been unable to shape a common policy concerning the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. The big members ignore the requirements of a common policy; the small - such as Sweden - have stopped having an independent foreign and security policy in order to integrate with a common policy that repeatedly fails to materialise.

And, let's not forget it: the Union is based on nuclear weapons since France and the U.K. have them; but this fact isn't even mentioned in the Treaty.

* * *

TFF and its Associates have been engaged in the security, conflict-resolution and peace dimension of the EU for many years. For instance, 33 years ago TFF Associate Johan Galtung wrote critically about the EU in "The European Community. A Super Power in the Making". To a large extent he predicted today's situation and lack of peace competence of the EU.

Over the years TFF has developed the EU Conflict Management Forum with lots of analyses, debate articles, alternatives and links for the student of EU, its role in defence, security and peace in particular.

Most recent articles are by two of our advisers Erni and Ola Friholt who have taken it upon them to not only read and criticise the Treaty but also formulate its paragraphs differently. Here is their visionary, constructive article "We want a constitution for the 21st Century, not for the 20th."

Some may find their proposals "idealistic" - but before you judge them, please study the Treaty text and ask yourself why this constitution is devoid of new thinking that fit our time and even the smallest vision about what is needed the next few decades to create a more humane world.

One reason could be that the work with the Treaty text was presided over by three men at the average of 70 years. One of the criticisms the Friholts raise is exactly that this Treaty is imbued with old patriarchal thinking and worldviews.

It is important that the women of Europe see this and act for a more gender-balanced approach to the EU and its peace philosophy.

Finally, I have recently published a small book, "Does the EU Promote Peace? Analysis, Criticism and Alternatives." Existing so far only in Danish, it was written for the Danish think tank New Agenda and - predictably - totally ignored by the mainstream media in Denmark. One must assume that the reason is that I did not confirm the image of the EU as a peace organisation that they have promoted without any independent investigative journalism for years. But then again Danish mainstream media are not overpopulated by peace intellectuals.

In this book I go through what the Treaty says about direct violence, structural, cultural and environmental violence. By means of the simple content search you can do on pdf documents, I thought it was interesting to see how often certain words are mentioned in the Treaty text. It's so simple and quite revealing.

Her are the main words and how often they appear throughout the Treaty text:

Peace 8 x

Conflict prevention/prevent conflicts 5 times

Defence/defence policy 64 times

Security/security policy/inner security 81 times

Military/armed forces 21 times

Terror and terrorism 10 times

The new EU foreign minister 71 times

Trust-building, arms control, reconciliation, détente, disarmament, non-violence 0 times (!)

In rough terms, the "balance" between words that refer to peace, conflict prevention and other non-military concepts, on the one hand, and words that refer to military-related security thinking on the other is 1:20

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The analysis also elaborates the alternatives - what the treaty text could have said had it been written with a different contemporary mind-set by younger men and women with just a little intuition about and education in defence, security, conflict-resolution and peace affairs. Like the Frihol analysis, I find it intellectually most honest tonot only criticise but present alternative ideas and policies. There are 25 of them towards the end of this little study, some of them repeated from a 2001 article by Hårleman and Oberg.

It is argued - strongly - that there is no way the EU can or should become an alternative military power to the United States; instead it can become the much-desired alternative to it by conceiving security and peace in a fundamentally new manner. And if it does not take the opportunity now while the United States is slowly but surely going down as an empire and finds few real friends around the world, the EU is losing the best chance it has ever had.

Excerpts of this analysis are now being translated into English and other EU languages. Those who understand a bit of Danish are guided to this place on TFF's site where the report can be downloaded free of charge.

Whether or not this Treaty proposal will be revived - as Chancellor Angela Merkel intends - or it will be formally buried, rest assured that the defence, foreign, security and "peace" policy of the European Union will be based on the kind of thinking and worldviews in that treaty. There is nothing else to base it on!

This sorry state of affairs would be useful to discuss much more in the countries that wait to be let into the EU. But unfortunately the liberal pluralist West that they ran into the arms of when getting out of the Soviet grip are not liberal enough to give them a free choice. The EU's democratic message is abundantly clear: you have no other options but joining the EU and NATO and on our conditions, none of yours! And as a minor point understated: when inside, you can't get out again!

Given the importance of this "Constitution" of the EU - hundreds of millions of citizens inside and waiting outside - it's time the media, intellectuals and NGOs sit down and read this document and start debating much more intensely how we can create something new, something that would catch the attention and energies of young people in Europe and beyond - a real Constitution that would offer hope about a more just and peaceful world.

So, please get hold of the Constitution/Treaty text here. Read it and you'll see that you are in for a surprise! Contrary to what you have heard repeatedly, there is no hope for real conflict-resolution and peace there. In this field, the EU is more in need of reform than the United Nations.


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