The EU’s EU partners, after the start of the Putin War, are grouped by political rather than geographical positions, and these open the space to gain weight in countries such as Spain or Italy.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shaken traditional alliances within the European Union and its partners they are making links which go beyond the usual north-south and east-west geographical division. The 27 managed to maintain unity against Russia and pass until six batteries of penalties against the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin has “revolutionized” alliances within the EU
He change of era marked by conflictentailed a reconfiguration of the positions of each partner, which they began to line up in relation to the degree of harshness towards Moscow and the degree of support for the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Experts believe some of the strongest coalitions to date have been nearly damaged irreparable since the Putin war. And they predict a Union with more circumstantial and unstable alliances.
He most damaged group is the powerful and until recently Eurosceptic bloc of Visegrad (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), closely united until the break-up of the Polish government against the The Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, closely related to the Meuse.
At least temporarily, the the so-called Weimar Triangle (Berlin, Paris and Warsaw) for the Franco-German commitment to offer Putin a decent way out in the event of an end to the war. And among the founding members (Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux) there are obvious differences in the most thorny issues of the moment, such as the alignment with the United States, very warlike against Putin, the desirability or not of prolonging the war to the point of collapse. of Russia, or the recognition of Ukraine’s candidacy for the EU.
“I think in the coming months and years we will see more and more alliances built for each issue, as we learn to live with realities and tensions within an enlarged union. “ Susi Dennison predicted, director of the European Power program, in Europe, ‘Think tank of the Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)’.
“There war breaks out in Ukraine, at the same time, a nationalist and Europeanist moment. Russia’s aggression forces countries like Poland to rediscover the importance of the EU, because governments are concerned about defending their national interests, “said Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies. The Twenty-seven managed to hold on unity against Russia, and approve up to six sets of sanctions against the Russian president’s regime Vladimir Putin.
But Dennison believes in unity shown by the EU against Russia, could begin to break due to the boomerang effect of sanctions, especially energy, on European economies. “It’s not just about division caused by energy or refugee prices, but a bigger gap between those who want peace as soon as possible and those who want to see Russia defeated “says the ECFR researcher.
Think of peace or victory over Russia
Any telephone conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin provokes outraged protests from Poland and the Baltic countries, accusing Paris of colluding with the Kremlin. And also the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz it is in the crosshairs of those who rule out any deal with Moscow, while the current regime remains in power. “ pressure on Russiasecurity in Europe cannot be guaranteed, “the Latvian prime minister said. Christian Karins.
Latvian, like the rest of the “hardest and purest” blog, believes that “peace can only be achieved with Ukraine’s victory” over Russia. Dennison warns that “if in the first phase of the war we saw a united Europe with its eastern partners, in the next phase we could see a Europe struggling to stay united, with Poland and the isolated countries of the East ”. Fractures within the club they no longer seem to follow a geographical or ideological pattern.
Viktor Orbán’s Hungary it is also marginalized among its former allies, especially after the changes of government in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. “This group is in trouble. Hungary has become a toxic country. Slovakia has a very good image and the new government of the Czech Republic is trying to get it back, “said EU sources in Brussels. very conscious of what is happening in these four countries.
Almost the same expression used by Sofia Krastev: “There is no more V4 [in riferimento al quartetto]. There is V2 plus one plus one. Hungary is toxic to Slovakia and Czech Republic, Poland dislikes politics Orbán with Russia, but he is still allied with him in the confrontation with Brussels ”. The more European orientation of Prague and Bratislava, added to the clear clash between Warsaw and Budapest in relations with Russia, they dismantled the Visegrad group.
Slovak diplomatic sources He tacitly hypothesized the big differences in the issue that now galvanizes almost all EU activity, Putin’s war, but emphasizes that in the quartet common interests still exist for whom they are interested in collaborating: infrastructure, transport and migration. The differences are obvious, though not so profound, also in other groups.
Al Benelux, for example, Belgium and Luxembourg were enthusiastic about Ukraine’s candidacy for the EU, while the Netherlands only reluctantly accepted it. Not even the Franco-German axis is having its best time with Scholz and Macron trying to regain the harmony achieved in Angela Merkel’s last years in the Chancellery. Analysts believe that all of these adjustments offer opportunities for other partners to gain weight and seek alliances pragmatic in very specific areas.
The role of Mario Draghi and Pedro Sánchez becomes important
Dennison believes, for example, that “Spain can play a crucial role in helping Europe move towards a broader definition of energy security by incorporating clean sources.” He researcher points out that Spain it can wield power in an energy transition that “will be absolutely vital to preserving climate action and power maintain a stable position against Russia as its dependence will be reduced. “
Per Krastev, the weakening of the Franco-German axis and the growing role of Eastern countries offers countries such as Italy and Spain the opportunity to play an important role. The first, of course, is already playing or at least he is trying to do it. The prime minister Mario Draghi, he uses all his prestige to increase the role of his country. Last week’s photo of him going to Kyiv with Macron and Scholz is very powerful. Stay away from to see if next year’s election and the foreseeable return of the Eurosceptics will not cause Rome to lose the shield it has just won.
He future of new alliances pragmatic and ad hoc, could be consolidated or dissolved during the ongoing debate on institutional reforms undertaken by the EU in the post-war period. After the conclusion of the May 9 Conference on the Future of Europe, countries have already begun to take sides on whether or not to reform the Treaties. The most founding members Spain or Slovakia are clearly in favor change, while thirteen other member states, from northern and eastern Europe, have already expressed their resistance.
Turned on table also the French proposal to create a new European political confederation, which will allow the whole continent to be integrated into concentric circles of cooperation, with the EU as its axis. Paris is fighting for Ukraine and Moldova, which at next week’s European summit they hope to obtain the status of candidate upon entering the EU, they will propose to set up a Confederation which, if necessary, could be the convenient prelude to long-term and uncertain members.
But it is also an outlet for countries that they have been knocking on the door of Brussels for years and that it is very difficult for them to open it. As Krastev predicts, these candidates will continue to do so deal with this resistance unless the reform of the Treaties is applied, and the capacity for veto of a single country on issues such as fiscal policy or Foreign Affairs.