Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Asian century, whether we like it or not

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”.

On Ukraine:
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.


  1. Another European Union Warrior, what Krugman calls "armed keynesianism". Defense as a way to create jobs. Outside enemy (the yellow danger!) used as a way to keep united this "paradise" of unemployement, misery, and lack of Democracy (that he calls "consensus").
    China is confronted by very big and raising problems. In this not a threat, it is threatened, alongside to others Brics, by hot money frenzy that EU policies enhances, instead of keeping them under control.
    Mr. Holslag should look at EU INTERNAL problems, and to that of its own country, which will feel not so well in the near future, but not because of China raising power.

    These ideas, these persons, are the body of the new UE warmonger expansionist nationalism, (look at the silly policies towards Ukraine, and to the completely distorted narrative about it). And they are highly dangerous. The complete failure about Ukraine is only the beginning.
    Let's look for instance at these crazinesses by this ubermensch, a typical representative of EU so-called tink-tanks:
    In comparison to him, Mrs Merkel looks like a pussycat.

  2. Ce que dit Holslag semble assez logique, mais pas fulgurant. Mais l'U.E. ne prend même le chemin de cet objectif.