The Role of the European Union in Its Neighbourhood and in the World

With an unleashed US president seemingly determined to destroy tried and trusted transatlantic ties along with the multilateral order that the United States created together with its Western European allies after WWII, the European Union finds itself more and more on its own. The EU has to (re)define what role it wants to play in a global context and in its neighbourhood. In light of the loss of important military and soft power through Brexit and the ongoing internal crisis characterised by Euroscepticism and right-wing populism, this prospect is uninviting, but urgency and necessity are obvious. 

So far, only French President Macron has attempted to lay out a vision for a future role of the EU in a global context. German Chancellor Merkel seems to be too weak to show leadership and initiative after the disappointing results of the recent election and the growing internal pressure within her own party and from the Bavarian sister-party. 

Yet the pressure is on and the EU needs to act. In the meantime, the PESCO initiative has been agreed on by 25 Member States (with only Malta and Denmark missing); the digital agenda for the Western Balkans has been launched and, generally speaking, the EU seems to brace itself against further provocations and escapades from the other side of the Atlantic. 

In this web dossier, we will focus on three topics: the Western Balkans enlargement strategy; the conflicts in the Middle East (Jerusalem, Syria), the refugee crisis and the transatlantic tug-of-war. We have asked authors from inside the EU, the Western Balkans, the Middle East, Turkey and the other side of the Atlantic to share their vision with our readers. 



I. Global Conflicts

a. Jerusalem: 
Hugh Lovatt: Trump’s Challenge: What Can the EU Do to Prevent Escalation in Jerusalem?

Further contributions: 
Dr Yudith Oppenheimer, Director Ir Amin 
Kerstin Müller, Director Heinrich-Boell-Foundation Tel Aviv

b. Syria: 
George Ghali: Taking the Lead Where Others Don’t - Suggesting Pillars for Conflict Resolution Intervention Led by the European Union

Further contributions:
Paweł Pieniążek, journalist, correspondent Near East, Outriders

c. Migration/refugees
I. Nur Banu Ozkut, Programme Manager, Refugee Rights Center Turkey 
Angeliki Dimitriadi, Research Fellow ΕLIAMEP, Athens


II. Transatlantic relations

Jackson Jane, President of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC
Kristina Berzina, senior fellow in Alliance for Securing Democracy, GMF Brussels office


III. Westbalkans

Prof Dr Djordje Pavicevic, University of Belgrade
Zlatko Dizdaredevic, former diplomat/author and writer (tbc)
Toby Vogel, Research Communications Officer CEPS