Opinion & Analysis

The European Union is unwisely defensive in its economic security

Maaike Okano Heijmans, Senior Research Fellow and Alexandre Ferreira Gomes, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute

The European Union should reach out to corporations and emerging economies.

The new European Economic Security Strategy presented on Wednesday by the president of the European CommissionUrsula von der Leyen, is a milestone. Favoured by Brussels and many European member states, the strategy advocates a much tougher stance in a world of fiercely competing political and economic blocs. Obviously, the elephant in the room is China, although this politically correct strategy studiously avoids using the C-word.

This policy overhaul was long overdue. Yet, in focusing largely on security and the risks facing Europe, the new strategy appears to omit an important point: relationships of trust with corporations and other countries will make or break the EU’s new strategy. Indeed, it includes disappointingly few steps to secure vital partnerships with the private sector and emerging economies, including South AfricaKazakhstan and Vietnam.

Following criticism from some members states and experts, the new strategy now incorporates language around the need to promote technological leadership and partnerships. However, it still depicts a Union preoccupied with defensive measures and unconcerned with enticing others to move in sync with its efforts. It is precisely this lack of new ideas and concrete instruments where the European strategy falls short, which undoubtedly has consequences for the Netherlands.

Why did Europe however reluctantly, move beyond the era of economic efficiency and free trade? Why has the call for economic security become so strident? 


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