Jonathan Holslag on the future of the EU in a changing world
“Who nowadays dares to tell a comprehensive story about Europe and to come up with ideas for the future of our continent?”, asks Dutch daily De Volkskrant. Jonathan Holslag does, one of the authors of whom we had the opportunity to publish an article on Presseurop.
“The Power of Paradise - How Europe can survive in the Asian century”, this is the title of his new work. As the title indicates, the book of Belgian political scientist Jonathan Holslag (b. 1981) is a pleadory for Europe to unite its forces, as the current century will be marked by increasing Asian influence on all kinds of levels (demographic, political, commercial, military…). In an interview with Dutch daily Trouw, Holslag gives his opinion on how Europe (the paradise!) can maintain in a changing world. Some excerpts of the interview.
On the relations with Asia:
“Europe shouldn’t hurry to take part of this Asian century, but it should react by creating its own influence sphere”. For instance, in order to compete with Asian manufacturers, the EU should develop its own economy and maintain high standards for the environment and employee’s rights. This will not hurt the EU’s export, as many critics fear, says Holslag: “These will improve the position of the numerous small and medium size companies, who generate most of the jobs and income. We shouldn’t produce more, but better”.
On the so-called democratic deficit of the EU:
“The EU is the most democratic project in the world, the possibilities for participation in decision making are endless. The crisis of Europe is no democracy crisis, but a crisis of ideas about a new development model which proposes more chances and an alternative for how the world has been evolving since the Industrial Revolution”.
On Catherine Ashton, the EU representative for Foreign Affairs:
“Her priority should be to obtain internal [EU] consensus instead of walking down the red carpets in Beijing or Washington”.
“Some people in Brussels expect Ukraine to return to the EU meekly if the adventure with Russia turns out to be a disappointment. I absolutely wouldn’t count on that. The Ukraine issue is, alongside Libya, Syria and Egypt, the perfect symbol of the waning power of the EU”.
On the so-called soft power of the EU:
“Soft power was a pretext to camouflage our internal weaknesses and our lack of hard power. A strong foreign policy depends on a solid defense policy. We should therefor invest more in military power. [...] Replacing regimes like the Americans did in Iraq, or imposing values, never works. However, we should be able to deploy military power to protect societies”.
Feel like reading more? For the moment, Holslag's book is only available in Dutch, so non-Dutch speakers will have to wait. However, for publishers who are interested, the English translation is available at publishing house De Bezige Bij.