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07➜09 2008


© Emmanuel TREPANT



Europe by the rest of the world






Europe and America: the self-confidence gap


The lumbering elephant versus the nimble bear

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11 >

Argentina: from one old friend to another






Visions of Europa

Postcards from Brussels

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India and the EU, non-identical twins?

Reservoir Blogs



Impressions from the Pacific

22 > Union for the Mediterranean

07➜09 2008


© Roberto TRIOSCHI

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EDITORIAL To reconcile his two dead uncles who sat on opposite sides during World War II, French poet and musician Georges Brassens wrote: "Now that your sons and daughters are walking hand in hand Making love and tomorrow’s Europe". What happened to this "tomorrow’s Europe" they were making? Has it already come into being and where will it go from here? SHIFT Mag

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Publisher: Juan ARCAS Editor: Victor FLEUROT • T. +32 2 235 56 21 Deputy Editor: David MARQUIE • T. +32 2 235 56 41 Contributors to this issue: Dave KEATING (Paris), Andy YOUNG (London), Caterina CARTA (Siena), Armin MAYER (Brussels), Laurent VAN BRUSSEL (Brussels), Xiaoyuan ZHENG (Strasbourg/ Shangai), Paul MEDRISCH (Buenos Aires), Gauri KHANDEKAR (Bruges), Frédéric DARMUZEY (Brussels), Natalia CHABAN (Christchurch, NZ), Martin HOLLAND (Christchurch, NZ), Jillian YORK (Boston) Illustrations: Brieuc HUBIN, Roberto TRIOSCHI, Emmanuel TREPANT , Wim TACITURN, Mathieu VAN DEN BOSCH, Laurent VAN BRUSSEL Photography: Scott OLSON/Getty Images, Eric LEMONNE, Victor FLEUROT, Tea TEINILÄ, Department of Physics - University of Oxford Special thanks to Daniel MILLER and Maria GALLO URRUTIA for editorial and linguistic support Production & coordination: Nadine SCHWIRTZ Design & Graphics: Tipik Studio Printed by: Van Ruys, Brussels Administration & subscription: Ricardo DA SILVA RIBEIRO • T. + To advertise in SHIFT Mag contact: Florence ORTMANS • T. +32 2 235 56 46 SHIFT Mag • 2008

Now that the French, Dutch and Irish have joined the Danes and Swedes in the "countries that said NO" camp, now that a Czech president is declaring such events "victories of freedom and reason over artificial elitist projects and European bureaucracy", who can find a way forward? I can see two reasons to be cheerful for those who believe in European unity and integration. The first is the "Erasmus generation": those people who grew up packing their suitcase with neither passport nor foreign money to take a lowcost flight across Europe. With a little luck, their voice will be heard more and more in the future and they can help make Europe less elitist and bureaucratic. The second reason to be cheerful is less idealistic: even the most fervent opponents of European integration will soon have to recognise the need for increased cooperation to survive in the current global environment. To get a clear picture of where we stand today as Europeans, why not ask our neighbours in the global village? Perhaps they have some useful advice on how to use our strengths and work on our weaknesses, a break from our endless internal disputes on which U-turn to make next. In this new issue of SHIFT Mag, we try to bring together views and impressions of Europe from all four corners of the globe. In doing so, we stretch our motto even further, letting the whole world talk to Brussels. The result is that our old house still holds some appeal to the outside world, and that neighbours can sometimes give very useful advice on future renovation plans! Enjoy the issue and drop us a line at

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 N° 7  > SHIFT mag





t’s official: Europe will not be immune to bank failures. Any doubts about that were settled recently as both the continent and the UK witnessed a series of bank nationalisations. So with a truly interconnected financial system now bringing the economic crisis to a head in both Europe and North America, how are ordinary people in both areas reacting? As an American who now lives in Europe, it has been interesting to observe the very different way the public is reacting to the crisis here as compared to the United States. The reaction has been symptomatic of the very different way that Europeans and Americans view themselves, particularly in relation to the rest of the world.

Blameless Joe Six Pack


The language being used to describe the crisis in the US, particularly by the two presidential candidates, has SHIFT mag >  N° 7 

been telling. As the credit crisis and broader economic troubles have taken more of a centre stage, both candidates are blaming the crisis on conceptual factors such as "Wall Street Greed", "corrupt politicians" and "corporate fat cats with golden parachutes". In this narrative, the villains are greedy Wall Street tycoons and ambivalent politicians, and the blameless victim is the hard-working Joe Six Pack on Main Street. For instance, the morning after the Lehman Brothers collapse, John McCain made the mistake of using his oft-repeated line, "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" in Florida. Realising the statement was a mistake, the campaign quickly went into damage control mode, and later in the day McCain said that the "fundamentals" he was referring to were the "American worker and their innovation". Flattery will get you everywhere in a US election

campaign, and both candidates have been careful to maintain that the American people themselves are blameless for the problem.

The ‘W word’ It is not surprising that the candidates would present the crisis to the public in this manner; after all this is the way political discourse in the United States is frequently framed. It is no surprise that "Washington" has become the dirtiest word in this election campaign, with each Senator candidate trying to distance themselves as much as possible from the "W word". But what is "Washington"? Washington is the government that the people themselves have chosen through a Democratic system. So if something is wrong with Washington, is something not wrong with the people themselves and the decisions they are making?

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But as with any American crisis, the fault seems to lie basically everywhere except with the American people themselves. And so it has been with the current crisis. Though economists and analysts have for some time been saying that the American "culture of debt" would eventually implode, the overriding cause of the problem has not been spoken of by American politicians.

Reliance on debt

© Scott OLSON/Getty Images

But the fact is that from the most microeconomic level (Americans now have an average savings rate of less than 0 percent, down from 10.8 percent in 1984) to the most macroeconomic (the national debt is at $9.7 trillion), and financial (investors have come to rely on a huge amount of leverage for deals), America is addicted to spending money it does not have in order to fund its lifestyle. And it is not just consumer debt like credit cards that has saddled the American people and economy. People took out mortgages that they could not possibly pay off, thereby fuelling the mortgage crisis. People took out student loans that they knew they would not be able to pay back for 30 years. Personal debt in the US is around $20,000 per household and about 43 percent of American spend more than they earn every year, according to the latest statistics on consumer credit from the Federal Reserve. Europe too has seen individual savings rates shrink, but nowhere near as much as in the US.

But even though the increasing reliance on credit is not as much of a problem in Europe, the issue has still received some serious attention here. In the UK there has been more serious reflection amongst the media and the political class about the larger social factors that have brought on this reliance on debt, and there has been much talk about the "excess" in recent years of people themselves, not just of vague concepts like "the city".

A chronic lack of self-confidence In my experience, this is typical of how Europeans view their own difficulties. When I speak with Europeans about the problems plaguing the continent, they throw their hands up in the air and give a morose explanation about how Europeans are somehow inherently unproductive. When speaking of why the EU cannot seem to get off the ground, they sigh about the petty rivalries and nationalism that make Europeans unable to cooperate. When speaking of the difficulty in enacting social

system reform, they speak of the complacency or resistance of the European public more than they complain about broken government bureaucracy. As a venture capital reporter, I have often heard Europeans complain about how the continent could never be as entrepreneurial as the US because Europeans lack that ambitious drive for success. And indeed, this is what many Americans think of Europe as well. But with this in mind, Europe does not seem any closer to solving its problems than America. Perhaps the fundamental problem for Europeans is that they suffer from a chronic lack of self-confidence in themselves as a people, whereas the problem for Americans seems to be that they suffer from a chronic sense of overconfidence. Perhaps America has some extra swagger it could loan to Europe for awhile. •••

> David Keating Journalist Paris, France American

Dave Keating is the editor of Gulf Stream Blues (

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his September, the 27 EU leaders met in Brussels for what was only the Union's second ever emergency summit. Russia had just crushed its neighbour Georgia in a short, sharp war, and only one item was on the agenda by then – how the EU should respond to a resurgent Russia on its Eastern borders.

Keep sucking our gas After a full day's discussions, the 27 wise leaders of the European Union managed to reach the not very startling conclusion that "relations between the EU and Russia have reached a crossroads". After screwing up all their courage, they went on to warn Moscow that EU-Russia relations would be subjected to "a careful in-depth examination" at the next scheduled EU-Russia summit. Not exactly the kind of words that would cause the Kremlin, buoyed by an overwhelming military victory to quake in its boots. Certainly, the Russian media did not think much of Europe's strong words. "Europe Can Keep Sucking Our Oil and Gas" was the delightfully crude headline emblazoned across Russian tabloid Tvoi Den. In fact, I would wager that if French President Nicolas Sarkozy had stood outside the Kremlin just after the summit and put his ear to the door, he would have heard the sound of two vodka glasses being clinked together, and the harsh laughter of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, the two men who run Russia.


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Friends and foes By almost every objective measure - population, GDP, military spending to name but a few - Russia is inferior to the European Union. So why does it seem that Russia is running rings around a beleaguered EU? Put simply, it is because the EU draws its strength from unity and Russia is one of the most divisive issues facing the Union today. In their excellent November 2007 analysis "A power audit of EU-Russia relations" authors Mark Leonard and Nicu Popescu argue that, when it comes to Russia, the 27 EU member states can be divided into five distinct groups - Trojan horses, strategic partners, friendly pragmatists, frosty pragmatists and new cold warriors. The list of strategic partners (those countries that Leonard and Popescu describe as enjoying a "special relationship with Russia") is relatively small, but contains three of the powerhouses of EU politics - France, Germany and Italy. Towards the other end of the scale, the group of frosty pragmatists (those countries "less afraid than others to speak out against Russian behaviour") is larger, but contains just one major power - the United Kingdom. This, combined with the presence of Poland in the "overtly hostile" new cold warriors camp, is enough to ensure that the scales of European Union opinion on Russia are frustratingly balanced.

Divide and conquer Each EU member state has its own reasons for being either friendly or

hostile towards Russia. Sometimes these reasons are to do with historical enmity (Poland is a particular case in point here). Other times, it is because of business interests. Greece and Cyprus, for example, are widely seen to be strong allies of Russia within the EU, and have on occasion threatened to use their veto to defend Russian interests. And, of course, the prospect of becoming overly dependent on Russian energy supplies is making everyone nervous these days. Russia is not the only country that takes advantage of the European Union's divisions. The United States regularly takes advantage of its relationships with the UK, Holland and Poland, to name but a few. In fact, every country's diplomatic service probably spends a great deal of time thinking about how it can use the tactics of "divide and conquer" effectively against the European Union. But Russia has taken advantage of European complacency about its weakness, and raised the game of divide and conquer to an art-form. Russia has assiduously courted smaller EU member states, such as Greece to which it provides substantial military support and Cyprus which receives unstinting political support in its dispute with North Cyprus). At the same time, it has not been averse to threatening other weak EU states and, over the past 5 years, Russia has cut off oil supplies to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - each time, co-incidentally, in the midst of a political or economic dispute.

I would wager that if Nicolas Sarkozy had stood outside the Kremlin just after the summit and put his ear to the door, he would have heard the sound of two vodka glasses being clinked together.

A sleeping giant? But Russia's real strength has been in building relationships with its "strategic partners". In particular, it has played on France's desire to see a multi-polar world, and expended considerable energy on increasing trade with Germany and in wooing key German politicians. Through an early recognition of Europe's weaknesses, and an astute manipulation of Europe's member states Russia has been able to outwit its larger neighbour(s) to the West.

< Andy Young

Editor London British

Andy Young is the editor of Siberian Light: the Russia blog (, a website covering Russia and the former Soviet Union since 2004.


But there is still danger for Russia. No matter how nimble it is, and how sharp it claws, the EU remains an elephant. The European elephant

is slowly waking up to the danger that Russia poses and, if the EU's 27 member states ever manage to reach a common position, Russia could find itself squashed underneath the feet of an angry Elephant... •••

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ARGENTINA: From Argentina the world looked quite small long before the idea of globalisation came about. It is pretty much made up of South America, North America and Europe, since these are the only regions that fill up the pages of our newspapers.

Last but not least, we just feel very close to Europe. We eat European food, wear European clothes, watch European films and, of course, clash with the continent every 4 years to dispute what we consider to be the only truly important global sports event – the football World Cup.

Europe (someone once said that an Argentine is an “Italian that speaks Spanish, dresses like a Frenchman and thinks he has the manners of an Englishman”). Furthermore, as globalisation continues to spread, starting to make our values look anachronistic, this feeling of closeness intensifies.

Love-hate: a dynamic relationship

For example, while the world becomes more and more competitive, Argentineans are still convinced that we should “work to live and not live to work”. In addition to this, even though we might not excel in terms of work ethics, we are all certain we should be earning more than we are.

A bunch of distant motherlands When it comes to Europe, Argentineans still see this region as a set of different countries, not at all as one political entity. Given that the grandparents of most Argentineans came from European countries, most families keep at least emotional ties with their specific country of origin (i.e. Spain, Italy, Germany, etc), not with “Europe”. Furthermore, from this part of the world, Europe still looks like a leading economic and political centre. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, being quite isolated geographically and economically, it always takes a longer time for South Americans to read world trends. Secondly, the decline of Europe´s economic and political clout has been mostly in relation to the ever-growing Asian powers of India and China. While these countries may be booming, the distance between them and South America is more than just geographical, given the lack of historical and cultural ties.

“ 08

Do not get me wrong, in the last few years Argentineans were not very happy with the stance Europe has taken on many issues. Just to give you an example, many people are surprised by the fact that a century ago this part of the world opened its doors to European immigrants while today South Americans are being sent back on the same Iberia flights in which they came on. Furthermore, while the US is seen as a more open country which comes closer to a meritocracy, the EU does look more like a protectionist club of rich countries built on a mercantilist view of distributing wealth among its members. Nevertheless, every Argentinean would still much rather drink a café noisette in a café on the Champs-Elysées rather than a Decaf-Grande-Light-Moca-Late in a Starbucks in Boston. The reason for this is that, once again, we just feel a special closeness to Europe. Even though we might not like some of its characteristics, we understand them as we consider we share a significant set of values with

Argentineans are surprised by the fact that a century ago this part of the world opened its doors to European immigrants while today South Americans are being sent back on the same Iberia flights in which they came on.

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Rise and fall of the Old World… been there, done that! When it comes to our own role in the world, even though our prominence may be in constant decline, we suffer from delusions of grandeur in terms of our importance (remember we invaded British territory in 1982 and a large part of the population was convinced we had a pretty good chance of winning that one). Furthermore, we do not pay much attention to changes in the world order as, even if the world does change, it should adapt to us and not the other way around. Moreover, while the world becomes more and more interconnected we remain highly nationalistic and see pragmatism as a sign of lack of character - which is why every Mercosur-EU summit ends up in total failure. Of course, these idiosyncracies today look more and more anachronistic to some foreign cultures, so where could we look for understanding on our “zest for life” and “national pride” (which these



foreign cultures have the nerve of calling “laziness” and “economic nonsense”) than to good old Europe? In Argentina we are still convinced these characteristics are the road map to success, even though they explain in large part the historic decline that has taken us from being one of the richest countries in the world at the beginning of the 20th century to where we are today. That is why we are glad to see that large parts of Europe share - at least - some of these attitudes. So, based on our experience, we would recommend you keep attached to these views and, even if you do go through a period of economic and political decline, do not worry we are sure it will be only temporary – in our case almost one century but will surely end soon. In the meantime, we recommend you follow our example, and start looking for ways of dealing with the frustrations of this “temporary” decline. Our solution? Argentina is the country with the largest number of psychologists per capita in the world. •••

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< Paul Medrisch

Project Director, Focus Reports Buenos Aires Argentinean  N° 7  > SHIFT mag


Time to Tipik

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PostScript Laurent van Brussel

P.-S: I remember this guy, Alex, working hard at protecting his mother from a fatal shock after a long coma. He did his best to recreate her world and keep her from learning that her past had collapsed. He finally failed and she said goodbye to Lenin. I remember this story and, I don’t know why, but I imagine how hard it will soon be for the uninspired father to tell the story of the newspaper to his children every night before sending them to sleep. Once upon a time… the news. How could he tell them about Russia and Georgia and the West? Putin becoming Vladimir, the puppeteer, who would dance with Yuri, the puppet the gun of which becomes longer and longer each time he lies. They would face the nasty whale, coming from the Atlantic to devour “their land”. This evening fairytale would also be the one of Barack Pan, who would only feel fulfilled when flying away to the make-believe world of Europe. Who would be his best ally in his fight against old Captain McCain? Hillary the fairy? Their best weapon could be Mary Palin’s bag from which the fairy would pull thousands of objects: a dummy, an “Alaska first, Alaska always” t-shirt , a resignation letter, Harry Potter’s book series, etc. No fairytale without a super hero. Who can replace Flash Gordon? Usain Bolt or Speedy Sarko? Running a 100-meter race in 9.69 is a real feat, but what about organising a summit in Damas in the middle of Ramadan and polishing off Syrians leaders within three hours?

© Roberto TRIOSCHI

The final chapter of the tale, dedicated to current financial world crisis, could be entitled “Honey, I shrunk the bankers”, “Lehman Blues Brothers” or “Robin Greenspan, prince of subprimes”… What a crazy experience talking about the real world as a dreamland... Cervantes said: “Supreme madness is to see life as it is, not as it must be”. Can we be mad enough to be true?


© Roberto Trioschi





ompany X has invented a multifunctional Unconsciousness Print Machine (UPM) to mark the 70th anniversary of the death of Sigmund Freud in 2009. I was chosen to participate in a pre-test several weeks ago. The idea was quite simple: pick a person that you know, close your eyes to think of them, and wait for the exciting hypnotism to kick in. Theoretically, the UPM should print all your true feelings about this person in ten minutes!

concentrate on the image of this person…repeating his or her name can also help obtain a satisfying result."

How lucky I was! My article on "Europe by the rest of the world" was due the next day, but I was too confused by my different feelings to finish it. Why not try to get some inspiration from this unprecedented test? "Excuse me, Madam, are you ready?" "Yes, of course. I can’t wait to check it out!" "Please choose a facial image in your mind and close your eyes. Relax and

Ten minutes later, when the very first result sheet came out, the inventor was surprised to find that my "friend" looked amazingly like Willy Wonka (the famous chocolate maker played by Johnny Depp in the Tim Burton film). "Actually, it means that this person is quite mysterious for you and at the same time, that he stimulates your imagination, that he encourages you to run away from your routine life and enjoy adventures",

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I almost laughed out loud: this guy would never guess that I was imagining a map of the world in my mind and trying to focus on Europe, whose borders are never clear to me. I repeated the name of my "friend" in my mother tongue like I count sheep before I fall asleep… Enjoy the journey!

Image N°1: Mr Wonka

explained this guy. "Exactly! It’s so amazing!" How can this machine know that I read lots of European fairytales in my childhood? The first image of Europe was established in my mind by Hans Christian Anderson who made us brave enough to believe in happy endings. When I was five years old, I imagined Europe as a marvellous royal castle in which lived a Prince Charming and his beautiful Princess. I tried hard to talk to a singing bird like the Snow Queen does. I also asked questions about Christmas Eve when the poor Little Match Girl is left alone on the freezing street. Europe, where the sun falls asleep, should have been far, far away in a Chinese child’s mind because history tells us that Zhang Qian, the ambassador of the Han Dynasty who explored the Silk Road, took years and years to finally reach his destination. In a word, Europe was an imaginary world

When I was five years old, I imagined Europe as a marvellous royal castle in which lived a Prince Charming and his beautiful Princess.

created by literature, at a time when there were not many real images of Europe on television and when the world was not yet dominated by the internet.

Image N°2: Mr Papa-Plato At first sight, both of us thought that it was a modernised image of the Pope, a man in red clothes with a crosier and an iPhone in his hand. Suddenly I realised that it was the face of Plato, but this time, this wise man looked scared and annoyed… "This one is a little bit more difficult to explain, Madam. Your friend is getting older and seems quite authoritarian. Is he a teacher? A politician? Or a banker?", he asked with a frown. Not really. My dear "friend" used to be a wise professor when I was at college as a student of political science. I remember that whatever the discipline was, we would often start our first lesson with Socrates, Plato or Aristotle or the origins of western philosophy. This face of Plato is the symbol of ancient European wisdom and the respectable thirst for knowledge which characterises Europeans. However, he became a primary school teacher who can easily get angry when pupils break his rules. He is scared because these rebellious pupils are growing up and becoming more and more powerful while the wrinkles embedded on the forehead bear the mark of historical glory and pride, fundamental

democratic spirit, terrifying globalisation, or even a new wave of religions. Then, he called the powerful principal for help. "Don’t worry, my dear, it is we who have the ruler in our hands. What can they do?" "Silence!" roared this principal, "Everybody has to write out all 1,234 human rights three times, otherwise your PE lessons will be cancelled for one semester! Is that clear?"

Image N°3: Miss Muse who smokes It was the third image that completely baffled the inventor. "…I thought that your friend was a man. But it seems that he has suddenly turned into a fair lady who smokes elegantly…weird, quite weird. I’ll have to note it down and improve the UPM’s comprehension system." He seemed embarrassed by this "mistake" in front of his customer. Looking at this funny combination, all of a sudden, I realised what this "friend" meant to me. When I arrived in Paris, the first cultural shock was the fact that most women smoke here while serious girls hardly touch cigarettes in my hometown. The point is not whether women or men should smoke, but that every individual can choose his or her own lifestyle and hold beliefs of their own choosing. Everyone plays the lead part in their own life. My friend shares her various cultural legacies with others. She sings in differ-

ent languages and dances with minstrels. She laughs herself into tears with strangers when they see an outdoor film under a starry sky. She might be individualist when she goes on strike for very personal reasons, but she might also fight for environmental protection all over the world. She lives between the past and present but her inborn nostalgia can also be the most precious thing in our era. Her criticism can sometimes be annoying but we should remember that your best friends never lie... Contemplating this special friendship, I felt relieved. I am so lucky to have run into this "friend" who is completely different. The UPM continued to print my "feelings" for this "person" whilst the inventor busily analysed these surprising images. "Dear Madam, I’ll say that your friend plays an important role in your life, but who is this person?" I opened my eyes and smiled: "oh, just an old foreign buddy..." •••

< Xiaoyuan Zheng

Commercial assistant, museology agency Strasbourg/Shanghai Chinese  N° 7  > SHIFT mag





or many Europeans, not to mention observers from outside the EU, the latter is a difficult "animal" to understand, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. Given its triangular system of external relations, comprising the foreign policy systems of the Commission, the Council and the individual Member States, this is not surprising. The picture becomes even more complicated when national leaders leverage their 6 months in the hot seat of the rotating EU Council Presidency to move into the limelight as de facto EU foreign ministers. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who recently brokered a peace deal between Russia and Georgia, is a prime example. While the effectiveness of Sarkozy's diplomatic foray remains debatable, undisputed is the presence and visibility of the French head of state in the most recent conflagration in the EU's "backyard". In contrast, Javier Solana, the EU's supposed foreign policy chief, was conspicuously invisible during the entire affair.

Weighing the EU’s real muscle Europeans may be right to scratch their heads and wonder if such a convoluted foreign policy approach is effective on the international stage, particularly in the long term, and especially in light of the fact that their leaders have yet to answer some basic questions about who is in charge. Nearly 40 years after the event, EU elites still stutter when trying to respond to Henry Kissinger's 1970 quip about which phone number to call to reach Europe. To understand what effect all of this has had on the EU's external "image" and


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power, your co-author Caterina Carta, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Siena in Italy, conducted a series of interviews with Brussels-based diplomats from 11 countries over a period of 5 months, from January to May 2008. The countries are: Australia, China, Japan, India, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico, South Africa, Russia and the US. The interviews not only shed light on how the EU is perceived by countries outside the EU, but also provide insight in gauging the effectiveness of the EU as an actor on the international stage. They are a better means of weighing the EU’s real muscle.

A "moral authority" As a "union of states", the EU is viewed by many diplomats through the prism of images and ideals, including peace, wisdom, an honest mediator, and a unique project of regional integration. Diplomats emphasise in particular the role of the EU as an agent of peace, both on the European continent and for its propensity to solve international controversies through diplomatic means. This role gives the EU "moral authority, because it is a supranational organisation like no other", according to an Israeli diplomat. But the cracks begin to emerge when the bloc attempts to forge unity from diversity when it comes to foreign policy matters. Thus, the "power of numbers" also constitutes "a challenge and trial for the future", says a Japanese diplomat. The internal complexity of the Union can also create significant limits to external influence, whereby the growing number of member

states generates a bureaucracy that, according to one Russian diplomat, "nourishes itself".

The energy conundrum The "number challenge", internal divisions within the EU and bureaucratic complexity may be most sorely felt in one particular, and crucial, foreign policy domain: energy relations with fossil fuel suppliers, notably Iran and Russia. For Persian diplomats, EU-backed UN sanctions over the issue of uranium enrichment for nuclear power facilities are a source of acute tension. Iranian diplomats also complain that the EU is unable to forge a Middle East policy independent of the US, and that Brussels applies a double standard with respect to Iranian versus Israeli human rights abuses. Moscow, meanwhile, is nervous about the EU's continued eastward expansion into its former sphere of influence. In the words of a Russian diplomat, this can lead to "concrete problems", primarily if there is not "adequate respect for the interests of the Russian side in the process of EU expansion and reform". The prospect of relations souring with key energy suppliers is certainly a prickly issue for Brussels, which is struggling to forge an energy policy that can provide a steady stream of natural gas and oil to quench the Union's ever increasing fuel thirst.

Championing global efforts Despite isolated complications and tensions with select countries, however, the EU is viewed positively by most of

© Brieuc HUBIN / Eric LEMONNE

the diplomats interviewed. This bodes well for the EU's stance as a key player and its presence, terms employed in academic circles to denote the EU's capacity and power to act effectively on the international scene. In some areas, notably trade, regulatory and commercial matters and development policy, the EU is even recognised as enjoying excessive power, and for imposing its will by using the formidable tool of its market of nearly 500 million consumers. South African diplomats, for instance, complain of the EU’s tendency to use technical barriers in order to protect its market while promoting an official policy of tariff removals. According to an Indian diplomat, the powerful role that the EU plays in international trade affords it disproportionate representation in the World Trade Organization (WTO), an element which puts into question the actual multilateral vocation of the EU itself.

Many capitals in non-EU countries recognise that coalescing and cooperating with the EU in efforts to reduce CO2 emissions raises their own international profile.

Indeed, the EU is progressively seen as an actor able to pursue its strategies in nearly all areas of external relations, barring certain limits with respect to traditional power politics. This position allows the Union to champion global efforts such as the fight against global warming, and many capitals in non-EU countries recognise that coalescing and cooperating with the EU in efforts to reduce CO2 emissions raises their own international profile. At the end of the day, diplomats in unison recognise that the EU is a growing and powerful international player, whose role cannot be ignored.

One wonders whether Henry Kissinger, if asked today, might even be ready to forgive the EU for not having a single phone number. •••

> Caterina Carta Post doctoral fellow University of Siena Italian

> Armin Mayer Journalist Brussels German/American

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aving lived in the EU for the past couple of years, I have experienced its presence in many direct ways – through the Schengen Agreement, the European Monetary System and the Euro, the French Presidency of the EU, EU Development policy, etc. Being a foreigner here, I have been able to get a neutral bird’s eye view of the EU as a whole. It would certainly not be fair to give an account of the EU in layman’s terms for my perception goes quite a way beyond that. I would rather share different aspects of my view of the EU.

Europe calling Firstly, like any student from a developing country, I have been treated to a rather rosy picture of the EU as a land of freedom far beyond the reach of any common Indian girl. Europe is perceived as a place of utopia. Europe is seen as “the West” - an entity that upholds freedom and equality. A place where one can be one’s own. The first time an Indian may come across the EU is requesting a visa, where he/ she might get acquainted with the EU via the Schengen Agreement. I explicitly mention Europe here as the common Indian man may not know the EU (but just as well as most Europeans would not know ASEAN). Europe generally does, however, turn out to encompass EU countries or Western Europe, as the eastern part of the continent is not quite as known by the middle-classes. India has had colonial relations with the UK, France, Portugal and the Netherlands, and people have rather idiosyncratic and weak attachments to any of these countries, and not to the EU as a whole. To quote Mr. Salman Rushdie,


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“The post-modern is linked by magic realism to Post Colonial literature [which is] also negotiating... the same tyrannical weight of colonial history in conjunction with the past.” Therefore, the EU still remains to be discovered largely by the common masses in India and around the world.

Let’s take this outside As a student of political sciences, I have been able to get to grips with the brilliant idea that is the EU. The EU remains my key passion and, coming from India, I am able to appreciate the creation of such an organisation even more profoundly than probably some of the EU’s citizens themselves. It is amazing to see how countries that shared a tumultuous past could come together and cooperate as well. The geopolitics of the Asian sub-continent has witnessed similar, but much less tragic, occurrences (cf. the two World Wars). But even after 60 years, trade and commerce between India and Pakistan seem to be at a standstill, for example. The Asian sub-continent could learn a lot from the EU. There are so many provinces that want to separate or basically just secure a separate identity like Kashmir, Tibet, Palestine, etc. But the peace that could be achieved on a global level, if these countries decide to follow in the footsteps of the EU countries, is unimaginable.

Trade, economics, politics… an attractive partner From an international point of view, the EU is seen as having a strong identity. India ranks among the five other countries that have strategic

partnerships with the EU. An EUIndia Free Trade Agreement is also nearing completion. The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for 20% of the latter’s trade, with a ten-fold increase since 1980. Trade in services between the EU and India has also been increasing significantly in recent years, with development in the migration of skilled Indian labour to the EU. Therefore the EU as a whole is extending its presence more and more within trading circles. Many Indian companies also want to invest in the EU and have ties with European companies, for example the Indian motors giant TATA Motors. But all the more, the EU is also being seen as a virtual fortress with very tough rules on immigration. This may seem like a strong policy of the EU, but in fact remains quite counter-productive as the EU could benefit from highly educated Indian labour. Even within the UN, the EU has a very firm footing, with two of its members holding permanent seats in the Security Council. Today, the EU has succeeded in having its opinion heard in international political affairs – for example, its recent role in the Iranian nuclear situation.

Lessons in integration from the subcontinent Being a student of European Union affairs, and a strong integrationist, I only advocate the EU’s further integration. To me, the EU simply has to realise that its future lies in a federal state with the present countries retaining strong federal identities. There are 22 official languages in India, with 1,630 other languages (according to the official census conducted

© Emmanuel TREPANT


by the Indian Govt. in 1991). It is therefore basically quite confusing for me to understand why the EU emphasises the importance of its languages as much as it does. India has 28 states and 7 union territories, some states even larger than most European countries, and a population of 1.13 bn people! A system similar to the Indian one would definitely fit well into the EU’s scheme. Every Indian state, although answerable to the Centre, has much autonomy. The same, in my opinion, could be practised in the EU. Not only is the EU a huge market,

but also contains some of the richest countries in the world. This means that if integration were to accelerate, and inter-governmentalism take a step back in favour of supranationalism, massive success could be achieved. The EU remains a fascinating organisation preceded by no other of its kind, but also a mix of such different

countries all anxious to preserve their autonomy. The good news is that Europeans do have a strong European identity visible to foreigners in Europe, or to Europeans who stay abroad. It seems like just a matter of time before the EU realises its true destiny. •••

< Gauri Khandekar

Master student College of Europe, Bruges Indian

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RESERVOIR BLOGS WELCOME TO RESERVOIR BLOGS – EUROPE’S WEIRDEST BLOG REVIEW, GATHERING, JUST FOR YOU, ALL THE STRANGEST TIDBITS FOUND ON THE EUROBLOGOSPHERE. FOR THE THIRD TIME, MR SHIFT WILL WHIP OUT HIS FINGER AND STICK IT ON THE BLOGS TO SQUEEZE THE JUICIEST AND CRACK OPEN THE NUTTIEST FOR YOUR DISCERNING PALATES. Best admitted mistake by an MEP And the winner is… Giles Chichester, Conservative MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar. Bruno Waterfield, the Daily Telegraph’s correspondent in Brussels, details on his blog ( Bruno_Waterfield) that Mr Chichester broke the European Parliament’s rules and finally admitted he made a mistake: "Giles Chichester, Conservative leader here in the European Parliament, has finally admitted that he broke the rules over his arrangements for spending generous staff allowances currently worth £160,000 a year to every Euro-MP". Further on in his article, Bruno Waterfield explains what really happened: "Mr Chichester has fallen foul of the Parliament's rules because he has been paying staff allowances into a family firm where he is a paid director. This is a bit too much, even for the relaxed Parliament, since changes to financial regulations in 2003". Even though Chichester admitted his mistake, he seems to be taking it as a joke: "It is embarrassing, not least, because I have introduced a new code of guidelines for my Conservative colleagues for expenses […] Here I am leading that process for the last couple of months and whoops-a-daisy I am shown up to have made a mistake. OK, hands up, mea culpa and I am putting it right."

CIA stooges in the EU? "First the Irish were attacked for being ungrateful. Then Ireland’s voters were criticized for being ignorant and infantile. Next it was the fault of bloggers. Now we are told that the Irish who voted No to the Lisbon European Union Treaty are really CIA stooges", comments Bruno Waterfield ( He then goes on: "The charge has been led this week by German Green Euro-MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit". Indeed, Mr Cohn-Bendit reported in a statement to the Parliament: "Last weekend, the Irish press revealed that there possibly exists a link between the financers of the no-campaign in Ireland and the Pentagon as well as the CIA. This was very interesting and the explanation given was that Europe should not become too strong." According to the MEP, forces in the US willing to pay people to destabilise a strong Europe could indeed exist. After invading Afghanistan, and storming Iraq, the US is now willing to undermine Europe… yeah right! We all believe this very insightful theory. Mr Cohn-Bendit, didn’t it ever occur to you that the Irish may have had their own opinion?

Mr Shift suggests Mr Cohn-Bendit and Mr Chichester go for a drink together. They will thus be able to talk to each other about their problems instead of What are you Mr Chichester, a little girl dropping depressing us with their shady stories! her glass of water? Don’t you think a "whoops-adaisy" is a little light? Shouldn’t you be ashamed "Excuse me while of yourself? Apparently Mr Chichester did not know about the change in the rules relating to service providers that took effect in 2003… and according to Waterfield "his less than humble, 'whoopsa-daisy' admission may have further political repercussions."


I throw up!"

"R.I.P, England Expects blog. This blog by an EP employee has been banned from public viewing by the European Parliament’s Secretary General Harald Romer", explains Julien Frisch (http://


If you read the first two Reservoir Blogs issues you would remember Gawain Towler swooping to victory with two awards. One for "Best original insult to an MEP" and another for "Best historical comparison". England Expects was written by Gawain. He has now been asked to stop his blogging activities indefinitely… his last comment begins as follows: "so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbyeee. Ladies and gentlemen, I am sad to announce that from henceforth England Expects shall be consigned to the dustbins of history". Like many other bloggers, Julien Frisch supports Gawain Towler: "[…] such kind of threats by a parliamentary administration are disgusting, shameful, and against every basis of democratic discourse […]. The European Union and its member states keep their officials travelling around the globe to foster democracy and human rights, but their incapability of respecting a basic norm of democracy - the freedom of expression - will make all their efforts remain in vain. Excuse me, I have to go vomiting!" It is true freedom of speech is an important European Union tenet but this may not be the best response in this situation. Mr Shift is afraid it will take a little more than a vomit to change it.

© Brieuc HUBIN

"Unsurpassed lucidity"

Le Monde compared John McCain to Charlie Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux. Monsieur Verdoux is a film character. The French journalist compares John McCain to him as follows: "At the end of the speech, John McCain went to kiss her (Palin) and her whole family […] he looked like Monsieur Verdoux, the elegant family father, murderer of twelve ladies by necessity […] It was somewhat Monsieur Verdoux and his pitbull". Erik says: "Lucid Frenchman 'gets it' and shows off his unsurpassed lucidity, comparing McCain to… a serial woman killer. The comparison is not one made of Putin or Medvedev. It is not one of Robert Mugabe or China's Hu. Apparently, it was never made of mass graves expert Saddam Hussein. No, it is the comparison a typically lucid Frenchman makes of (whom else?) America's Republican candidate…" Don’t be so harsh on the journalist, Erik! Maybe he knows more than anyone else on McCain. Maybe the comparison is fair… however, comparing Sarah Palin to McCain’s pitbull is a bit too much, you’re right, poor little Sarah! Speaking of lucidity, Mr Shift thinks some people should take care of their health before running for presidency… See you next time!

Mr Shift

Erik comments on the lucidity of a French journalist on http://no-pasaran.blogspot. com/. Indeed, Dominique Dhombres of

019 19

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Unexpectedly, the answer may come from "down under". New Zealand’s National Centre for Research on Europe at the University of Canterbury has undertaken an ambitious trans-national comparative project identifying and comparing the views on the EU within the Asia-Pacific region. The study surveyed EU perceptions not only among the region’s major players – Japan, China, Australia and South Korea, but also looked at the "unusual suspects" - New Zealand (NZ), Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, the Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands. Among the latter group are locations which have experience of the EU as the world’s leading Official Development Assistance donor.

A "developmental hero"? As Albert Einstein once noted, "imagination is more important than knowledge": following this logic, what are the images of the EU as a developmental actor? Does the EU’s self-image as a champion in terms of


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aid, trade, debt relief and poverty reduction correspond to the Union’s reputation in the eyes of the Asia-Pacific? The superficial answer may be disappointing – the study revealed that the recipients of EU developmental assistance generally registered a low level of media attention on EU development activities. This finding was particularly surprising in the case of the Pacific (where the EU is the second largest developmental actor after Australia). However, the lack of a media perception of Europe as a "developmental hero" was not reflected in the general public and national stakeholders’ opinion on the EU in the Pacific – it seems a growing awareness of the EU as a significant development actor has emerged.

Low visibility in the newspaper EU news reporting resembled a tivaevae (a traditional Cook Island quilt with bright patterns and pictures) – it was patchy. The widely circulated (by Pacific standards) Fijian Times featured voluminous EU coverage (mostly due to the EU’s reaction to Fiji’s coup) approximately 27 news items a month. The small Samoa Observer featured a tiny monthly share of 1.5 articles. While it is easy to lament the low visibility of the EU in the Pacific’s leading newspapers, one should not forget the size of the audience they address as well as the limited resources with which they operate. Nonetheless, the EU’s actual presence in the region and its extensive



uropean integration continues as work in progress. The complicated unorthodox political design, complex decision-making processes and a reputed communication deficit, the ever-evolving identity of the EU can lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions among its own citizens. Under such circumstances, can external visions of the EU help to conceptualise and define this "objet politique non-identifié", as once noted by Jacques Delors?

developmental efforts directed towards it seem to be out of kilter with the muted intensity of the EU’s media representations. Some patches in the news melange were extremely faded and small. Among those was the reporting of the impact of the EU’s developmental activities. The newsmakers in the Cook Islands News totally ignored this theme, focusing instead on reporting the EU in the context of world politics (possibly due to the fact that most EU news in this newspaper originated from international news wires). Print media in other Pacific locations typically attached the representation of the EU’s developmental affairs to reports on another issue. For example, the EU’s developmental efforts were mentioned in the coverage of rural education in the Solomon Islands. The Fijian press preferred to report an economic/ developmental matter regarding sugar subsidies in the context of political negotiations.

only fourth (after Australia, NZ and China). Understandably, Australia and NZ are Fiji’s Pacific neighbours; however, China’s lead over the EU in public perceptions is more surprising – for whatever reason, the public in regionally influential Fiji seemed unwilling to recognise the EU as an important counterpart.

A ubiquitous EU image Nevertheless, when aware of the EU, the Fijians named the EU’s normative performance (drive for democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law) as the most important issues that impacted upon Fiji. A ubiquitous EU image of a "wealthy economic giant" surfaced in 29% of responses, and 21% associated the EU with the process of ongoing integration (a familiar theme in the region which is currently exploring inter-state construction in the form of the Pacific Islands Forum).

"Money" and "aid"

The EU’s actual presence in the region and its extensive developmental efforts directed towards it seem to be out of kilter with the muted intensity of the EU’s media representations.

Significantly, the Pacific "movers and shakers" were well aware of the EU’s impacts on their countries. Decisionand policy-makers in the two largest and most influential Pacific states – Fiji and PNG – listed sugar subsidies and local politics in the former case and the EU’s aid donations, development of the infrastructure and trade access in the latter. "Money" and "aid" were the top two spontaneous images of the Union. However, in contrast to the PNG "elites", their Fijian counterparts perceived the relationship with the EU as moving from steady to worsening (a perception also shared by the Fijian general public). Such differences could be ascribed to the recent political crisis in Fiji and the EU’s controversial reaction to it. "Developmental aid donor" was also the immediate EU association in the minds of 93% of the Fijian public. Yet, when asked to rate the most important overseas partners, they ranked the EU

To conclude, the Pacific "quilt" of EU imagery featured the threads of a normative power, human rights advocate and a champion of developmental aid, and in this it echoed the EU’s perception of itself as a trendsetter in the area of "soft" power. Whether this image is echoed in other external regions remains an open question that can only be answered with further research. ••• > Martin Holland NCRE and EU Centres Network director University of Canterbury, NZ New Zealander > Natalia Chaban Deputy director, NCRE University of Canterbury, NZ New Zealander

The authors would like to express their gratitude to Dr Jessica Bain, Ms Serena Kelly and Dr Malakai Koloamatangi for collecting the data for this investigation.  N° 7  > SHIFT mag





or our future to be a future of security, justice and progress, we have to work very hard and do like the Europeans when they decided among themselves to end an era of wars and violence. We shall succeed together or fail together." With these words French president Nicolas Sarkozy opened the summit for the Union of the Mediterranean on July 13, for which 43 leaders from the European Union and southern Mediterranean countries, as well as Jordan and Mauritania gathered. Across North Africa, attitudes toward Sarkozy's initiative have differed widely. Morocco, which has long dreamt of EU membership, had a positive reaction from the outset, as did Tunisia. Egypt, on the other hand, agreed only after being guaranteed the initial rotation of the southern presidency of the Union. Algeria objected to Israel's involvement and Libya, with its strong bent towards African unity, called the Union of the Mediterranean "an insult."


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Libya yet again avoids world stage

country is ruled by one family and its followers".

In the end, Libya was the only North African country to refuse participation. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, for years a driving influence of the African Union, said of the Union for the Mediterranean: "This project is doomed to fail. It will fuel terrorist acts from Islamist groups who consider it a new crusade project and will attack Muslim member states." In the end, Libya was granted observer status of the Union, but made no appearance at the July summit.

A struggle for leadership

Libyan bloggers expressed disappointment at their leader's choice to yet again avoid the world stage. One popular blogger lamented: "Yet again the Libyan rulers prove they have no respect for their own people, for many years Libya has been portraying itself to the outside world as Jamahereya, which means something like the nation or land that is ruled by the masses i.e. Libyan people! Yet in reality we all know that the

While Morocco's participation in the Union was never in question, King Mohammed VI's absence at the Summit came as a surprise to many, but in the end may have aided in securing the attendance of Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was warmly welcomed by both Sarkozy and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. While Bouteflika's attendance was important to Sarkozy for myriad reasons, Algeria's hope is that the Union will make travelling to Europe easier for North Africans. Although visa restrictions on Algerians were eased in 2006, thousands of North African migrants attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe each year. According to the advocacy group No Borders, over 700 migrants from the African continent died in their attempts during 2007. Although King Mohammed VI was not in attendance, he sent his younger brother Prince Moulay

In Tunisia, many see Sarkozy as able to talk the talk about improving human rights, but unwilling or unable to walk the walk.

Rachid in his place. Moroccan public opinion over the monarch's lastminute choice varies, however it has been speculated that in addition to Bouteflika's presence, the Moroccan monarch was miffed at Egypt's Mubarak securing the first round of southern presidency of the Union. Egypt and Morocco have the highest populations in North Africa and have both struggled for leadership of the region; Mubarak's appointment may have been seen as an affront.

© Department of Physics, University of Oxford

What about human rights? Only Tunisia entered into the Mediterranean Union with minimal baggage. This can be attributed to the country's foreign policy, which is largely geared toward building solid commercial and trade relations with the EU, independent of the rest of the region. Tunisian-French relations have long been solid, and Sarkozy's visit to Tunisia in April managed to further strengthen those relations, at least formally. Tunisia's hope for the Mediterranean Union exists on a pragmatic plane. In exchange for enthusiasm, Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali hopes to gain economic benefits from the Union.

While the Tunisian government may have embraced the initiative, one must only look to the Tunisian blogosphere to note that there has been a tense reaction to the warm relationship formed between Ben Ali and Sarkozy. Many see Sarkozy as able to talk the talk about improving human rights in Tunisia, but unwilling or unable to walk the walk.

furthers the sense of doubt, given that his actual immigration policies differ greatly from his rhetoric. Had Germany taken a more active role, perhaps the Union would have gained more credibility amongst the North African populace rather than being seen as Sarkozy’s personal initiative . •••

Moving forward Despite positive outcomes from the inaugural summit, public opinion still indicates significant scepticism toward the Union, a main source of which is the fact that many see it as a means for French companies to further develop arms deals with the southern states. The North African blogosphere, which tends to have a healthy scepticism of government in general, has expressed doubt about the Union as well. Some bloggers remarked the United States' lack of interest or comment toward the Union. Many North African bloggers, all too aware of France's colonial past, see their former coloniser as attempting to take power away from Germany within the EU. Additionally, the fact that Sarkozy included the Union for the Mediterranean as part of his campaign for presidency only

< Jillian York

Author, Global Voices Online Boston, Massachusetts, USA American

Jillian is the former Morocco correspondent for Global Voices Online (, a non-profit global citizens’ media project and blog platform, with a particular emphasis on countries outside of Europe and North America. She’s also an Open Net Initiative ( project coordinator.  N° 7  > SHIFT mag


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SHIFT mag [n°7] - Europe by the rest of the world  
SHIFT mag [n°7] - Europe by the rest of the world  

On 19 November 2008, Kosovar authorities arrested three German nationals for the alleged bombing of the office of the European Union Special...