European Common Foreign and Defence Policy is an opportunity | The European House - Ambrosetti

03 September 2022

Why European Common Foreign and Defence Policy is an opportunity for Italy and the EU

The global geopolitical order has been evolving rapidly since before the Russia-Ukraine conflict. After the end of the Cold War and until about 2008, the geopolitical “chessboard” only had one superpower: the United States of America. Since 2009, however, the Chinese advance in the global economy has brought back a bipolar framework from the point of view of foreign affairs.The ongoing conflict undoubtedly has been an accelerator of change.

Many countries such as China, India, and Russia no longer acknowledge the "world order" that emerged from the Second World War, and long to build a new world order where they play a more relevant role.In this context, having a common foreign and defence policy in Europe is not only a political or security issue, but also a matter of national interest and economic growth, both from an industrial point of view and that of the international expansion of the markets.

Through the study of current phenomena and the support of a qualified panel of experts and opinion leaders, the study "Common Foreign Policy and Defence for Europe: Challenges and Opportunities for Italy and the European Union", presented on September 3, 2022 at the 48th Cernobbio Forum, formulates twelve proposals – more or less provocative – with the aim of speeding up the progress towards a common European foreign and defence policy without neglecting, as it is customary for the Club’s research, an estimate of the economic impact that such a policy would have or could have on the European economic system.

Foreign policy proposals

  • Development of a European geopolitical strategy, with defined and achievable objectives
  • Appointment of a European Minister for Foreign Policy and Defence and creation of a common diplomatic apparatus
  • Overcoming the intergovernmental dimension
  • Creation of a structured and financially supported cooperative development programme in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East

Defence proposals

  • Strategic review of the relationship with NATO, oriented to creating a European pillar that is close to the North Atlantic one
  • Establishment of a European Armed Force that might involve private individuals in some non-strategic activities
  • Increase of EU and national military spending and creating a single European defence market
  • Creation of a European Space Force Command: the space is going to be the next geopolitical field, both militarily and politically

Public opinion proposals

  • Launch of a constructive debate on foreign policy and defence issues, involving especially post-war generations
  • Start of a process of cultural and linguistic review on foreign policy and defence, addressed to both society and the business community
  • Creation of a European Culture Promotion Program to promote the role of the European Union in the world, its culture and lifestyles, reinforcing the sense of belonging of its citizens
  • Provocative proposal: introduction of an ongoing European People’s Defence Service for both men and women from age 18

The impact of a common foreign and defence policy in Europe

The research of The European House - Ambrosetti ends with an estimate of the potential economic impact that a common foreign and defence policy would have or would have had in Europe.

Speaking of the defence, it has been estimated an economic impact ranging between 115 billion euro/year and 357 billion euro/year.

In the field of foreign policy, the lost opportunities on a trade (export) level over the last ten years in the absence of a Common Foreign Policy, amount to almost a trillion euros – of which about 370 billion euros in Africa, about 350 billion euros in Iran, 31 billion euros in Central Asia and about 168 billion euros in the ASEAN area.

The strategic opportunities, the full potential of which could only be gleaned through a unified EU approach, were identified as follows:

  • Africa: expanding internal market, availability of raw materials, population growth, the next “Factory of the World”
  • Iran: gateway to Asia, availability of raw materials, science and technology, logistics and manufacturing hub for all of Eurasia
  • Central Asia: Belt & Road initiative, FDI in strategic sectors, expanding market and availability of raw materials
  • ASEAN: growing technological and digital hub, hi-tech manufacturing and ICT

Read the full Position Paper "A Common Foreign and Defence Policy for Europe: challenges and opportunities for Italy and the European Union"

Position Paper (in Italian)