From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Return of Euro-centrism
The Russian aggression against Ukraine has led to an unmissable feeling of insecurity in Europe, particularly in Germany.
Euro-centric world order and new security consciousness
- For centuries, Europe imagined itself to be the centre of the world — its order, politics and culture.
- What contributed to its decline? Decolonisation, the emergence of the United States as the western world’s sole superpower, and the rise of the rest dramatically diminished the centuries old domination of the European states and their ability to shape the world in their own image.
- The political and military aftermath of Russia’s war on Ukraine could potentially tilt the current global balance and take us back to a Euro-centric world order.
- US dominance: For sure, the U.S. continues to dominate the trans-Atlantic security landscape and this is likely to remain so.
- And yet, the new security consciousness in Europe will reduce Washington’s ability to continue as the fulcrum of the trans-Atlantic strategic imagination.
- If wars have the potential to shape international orders, it is Europe’s turn to shape the world, once again.
- The United States, fatigued from the Iraq and Afghan wars, does not appear to be keen on another round of wars and military engagements.
- A pervasive sense of what some described as “existential insecurity” has brought about a renewed enthusiasm about the future of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
- The European Union (EU) Commission has backed Kyiv’s bid for EU candidature.
- This new military unity is not just words, but is backed with political commitment and financial resources from the world’s richest economies.
- Berlin, for instance, has decided to spend an additional €100 billion for defence over and above its €50 billion annual expenditure on defence.
1] Weakened faith in the institutions and globalisation
- Germany, the engine of this new security thinking in Europe, is coming out of its self-image of being a pacifist nation.
- There appears little faith in the United Nations or the UN Security Council anymore in Berlin, they have decided to put their faith in a revitalised EU and NATO.
- European states are deeply worried about globalisation-induced vulnerability and this has set in a rethink about the inherent problems of indiscriminate globalisation.
- The combined effect of European re-militarisation (however modest it may be for now), its loss of faith in multilateral institutions, and the increased salience of the EU and NATO will be the unchecked emergence of Europe as an even stronger regulatory, norm/standard-setting superpower backed with military power.
2] Unilateral and Euro-centric decision making
- The EU already has a worryingly disproportionate ability to set standards for the rest of the world.
- Instruments such as the Digital Services Act and the Digital Assets Act or its human rights standards will be unilaterally adopted, and will be unavoidable by other parts of the world.
- While these instruments and standards may in themselves be progressive and unobjectionable for the most part, the problem is with the process which is unilateral and Euro-centric.
3] Euro-centric worldview
- A euro-centric worldview of ‘friends and enemies’ will define its engagement with the rest of the world.
- India is a friend, but its take on the Ukraine war is not friendly enough for Europe.
- The EU will lead the way in setting standards for the rest of us and we will have little option but to follow that.
- For sure, Europe will seek partners around the world: to create a Euro-centric world order, not a truly global world order.
4] Dilemma for India
- This unilateral attempt to ‘shape the world’ in its image will also be portrayed as an attempt to counter Chinese attempts at global domination.
- To oppose or not? When presented as such, countries such as India will face a clear dilemma: to politically and normatively oppose the setting of the global agenda by Europeans or to be practical about it and jump on the European bandwagon.
The key message from the European narratives about the Ukraine war is that European states would want to see their wars and conflicts as threatening international stability and the ‘rules-based’ global order.