N. Arbatova (email@example.com),
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation
Abstract. The article is dedicated to the analysis of the EU potential to become a real power center in the global politics. No doubt, European Integration is the greatest project of all times. But it is also true that the European Union is currently experiencing the most difficult period in its entire history being under the pressure of several crises – consequences of the world economic and financial crisis, new risks of a global economic slowdown as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, migration crisis, troubled relations with the U.S., China and Russia, etc. The end of the East-West confrontation that removed the threat of a global conflict has resulted in the crisis of the Euro-Atlantic partnership, namely the growing gap between the USA and the EU in the security sector, the emergence of a new China with global ambitions, the rise of a self-assertive post-Soviet Russia and numerous regional actors – India, Japan, Turkey, Iran, Brazil and other. However, the modern polycentric world is strongly influenced by the evolving balance between two opposite trends – the trend towards multilateral cooperation on global challenges and the trend towards a new bipolarity. This new bipolarity is developing within the same capitalist system and can be defined as a growing split between the liberal and authoritarian capitalism. The former is most vividly represented by the European Union, USA and their allies, while the latter – by China and Russia. Strictly speaking, nowadays, the only full-fledged power center is the United States, whose economic and military potential guarantees its political influence in world affairs. China is approaching these standards. The European Union and Russia represent two opposite models. The EU is an economic power center while Russia is a military power center. In order to become an influential power center capable to protect its integrationist model globally, the European Union needs to learn Realpolitik, rethink its previous idealistic approach towards the postbipolar world and acquire strategic autonomy capabilities. Aside from this, the EU leadership should resolve numerous existential problems, beginning with the challenge of nationalism, which is fueled by the crisis of liberal democracy, and ending with the necessity to define future contours of the European construct. The COVID-19 pandemic has made adjustments to the existing postbipolar world order and “Great Power” competition, having weakened two leaders of globalization – USA and China - and opened a new window of opportunity for EU.
Keywords: European Union, center of power, international relations, polycentric world, Russia, USA, China, Euro-Atlantic partnership, Ukrainian conflict, crisis, liberal democracy, migration, the EU Global Strategy, common defense, strategic autonomy, the pandemic
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