Is it not high time for the European Union to reconsider its manner of engaging with other respected players in the global arena?
Recent communications by Josep Borrell caused a storm; the Trump initiative cannot be considered as bad as is connoted by “annexation” (taking land wrongfully from another). This is simply not the case.
And other semantic peculiarities of an increasingly cranky EU come to mind, as well.
For example, responding a few months ago to a new Lebanese government, the EU said tersely that this new government “must” tackle “acute” economic challenges – and “swiftly”.
Even the United Nations, an institution not renowned for excessive humility, words its communications more graciously. A day earlier, UN Secretary-General Guterres preferred to “welcome” Lebanon’s new government. This elementary amenity was conspicuously absent from the EU’s communication. Guterres added pleasantly that he “looks forward” to working with Lebanon’s newly elected ministers.
Perhaps amending Borrell’s title would facilitate a new EU mindset; the EU habitually insists on “High Representative” (higher than whom?), rather than simply, “the EU Foreign Minister”.
Turning now to the EU’s uncontrollable urge to lead the pack in pelting the world’s only Jewish state with accusations of “illegal” behavior.
EU leaders imply they are just following “international law”. But that too is a made-in-Europe construct: the ICC (“International Criminal Court”) and the “International Court” of Justice are both seated in Western Europe. Also, only about half the African countries and only a few Asian countries are ICC members, compared to nearly all Western-European countries. Finally, the sole controlling authority designated in “international” humanitarian law is a Swiss association (the ICRC). But Switzerland is but one (European) country from among almost 200 countries worldwide. By population, Switzerland is the same size as Israel and smaller than, say, Honduras, or Jordan, or Tajikistan.
The United States long ago dismissed garden-variety anti-Israel illegality rhetoric as nonsense. A dean of the USA’s leading law-school patiently pointed out, decades ago, that the League of Nations’ recognition of the Jewish legal right of settlement, in the Jewish people’s tiny homeland from the Jordan River to the sea, is preserved under the UN Charter. This means that positions being professed by the EU’s “High Representative” contradict a United Nations constitutional provision which legally binds all EU member states.
Could this be one of many reasons why the United States — by population only 4 times as large as Germany alone (or only 5 times as large as Italy or as France), and which is smaller than Canada (by area) — is nonetheless a superpower — whereas all the EU nations together cannot muster up enough global influence to contend? Changes in EU foreign policy would build up European credibility in international affairs.
It is mostly an EU interest to engage more productively with counterparts worldwide since there is a growing unease that the EU is not moving in a good direction at the moment. It is both inaccurate and dangerous for shadowy EU diplomats to continue convincing each another that Israel, for example, is simply wrong, or racist. Thriving Israel is a fast-rising power and the Middle East’s most open, globalized country; the EU will be better served once its officials learn to view its exigencies, as a constantly threatened democracy, with respect and understanding.
But the issue of Israel is just one of many legitimate deliberations across the globe that the EU could show respect for.