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Rethinking the European Global Strategy and the role of think tanks


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The European Union, often hailed as a beacon of unity and collaboration, has undergone a transformation in recent years, with key member states, notably France and Germany, leading the charge in shaping its future.

In this article, we delve into the intricacies of the European Global Strategy, exploring how it reflects the evolving dynamics of the EU, its challenges, and its potential for political innovation in the 21st century.


The Role of Think Tanks


Think tanks, known as “Denkfabriks” in German, are often tasked with producing reports and ideas to guide policy decisions. However, it is not uncommon for governments to approach think tanks with preconceived notions rather than seeking fresh insights. This approach often stems from political disagreements within governments themselves, resulting in the delegation of responsibility to these intellectual hubs.


For instance, the concept of a “European Global Strategy” has surfaced as a response to the need for a unifying goal, with the French and Germans taking the lead. These two nations have a long history of proposing reforms for the EU, even as their ideas have faced resistance. Over the past 15 years, their proposals have evolved into a fixed set of solutions, which are repeatedly presented, often in response to crises.


France and Germany: A Historical Perspective


France and Germany’s influence on the EU can be traced back to their respective historical experiences with state formation. France appears to model its approach on 19th-century empire-building, envisioning Europe centered around a metropole and peripheral states. In contrast, Germany seeks to replicate its 19th-century state-building model, aiming to unify European states under a common market and constitution.


Germany’s expansion of the EU into Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, along with institutional reforms, aligns with its vision of “European unification.” For France, creating a sphere of influence for the EU based on a political and economic core is a step towards its idea of Europe-building.


A Call for Political Innovation


To truly address the EU’s challenges and become a global leader, a departure from 19th-century thinking is required. This shift should encompass four key principles:


Experimentation: The EU should be an experimental entity open to the outside world. Localities should connect and exchange ideas, fostering political innovation.


Generation of Immaterial Resources: Prioritizing immaterial resources such as ideas and innovative problem-solving approaches will prepare the EU for enlargement and the infusion of new talent.


Accountability and Oversight: The EU should adopt innovative methods of accountability and oversight rather than adhering to traditional 19th-century models.


Global Engagement: The EU should extend the benefits of its integration to the rest of the world, recognizing its unique role as an “unidentified geopolitical object.”


Historical Phases of EU Development


A historical examination of the EU reveals a cyclical pattern of internal experimentation followed by external enlargement. The EU has reinvented itself in phases, embracing change and growth:


1945-1960: The founding phase focused on mutualizing resources and coal, steel, and manpower.


1960-1975: This period witnessed economic modernization as the EU absorbed the effects of global decolonization.


1975-1990: The wave of democratization, introduction of European elections, and accession of former juntas marked this era.


1990-2005: The fall of the Berlin Wall, the introduction of the Schengen area, and the eurozone’s expansion characterized this phase.




The European Global Strategy and the evolving roles of France and Germany within the EU underscore a critical juncture in the union’s history. To navigate the challenges of the 21st century and assert its global leadership, the EU must embrace political innovation, move beyond historical paradigms, and harness the creative potential of experimentation, immaterial resources, and global engagement. As the EU continues to evolve, it must be agile and open to reinvention to remain relevant on the global stage.

News Desk, where most of the News Item edit for THE THINK TANK JOURNAL

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