European Union: What Model in a Globalized World ?

EU Flag Geopolitics Journal




Europe’s Economic Impact: A Global Force

Europe, a key player in economic globalization, holds the position of the second-largest economic power globally with a GDP of $16.4 trillion in 2016, having previously claimed the top spot in 2014. Comprising 22% of the world’s GDP, it falls behind the United States (25%) and leads China (15%), Japan (7%), India (3%), and Brazil and Russia (2%). However, despite this robust economic standing, the Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant lags at around $33,000 in 2016, significantly trailing the United States ($56,000) and slightly behind Japan ($38,000).

Key Economic Insights:

  1. Trade Dominance:

    • Forms one of the three poles of the Triad alongside North America and East Asia.
    • Houses the world’s largest market with over 500 million people.
    • Facilitates over half of global imports and exports.
  2. Global Trade Impact:

    • Over 64% of trade within EU countries is intra-Communal trade.
    • Represents 15.6% of total global imports and exports.
    • Surpassed by China in export volume in 2014 but remained ahead of the United States (15.6% vs. 11.8%).
  1. Global Relations:

    • Maintains privileged trade relations outside the Triad with emerging countries like Russia, Turkey, India, and Brazil.
    • Benefits from a single currency, the Euro (£), considered the second international currency after the US dollar.
  2. Sectoral Dominance:

    • Second-largest agriculture globally.
    • Dominant in high technologies but lags in information and communication technologies.
    • A post-industrial economy with a large tertiary sector (over 70% of jobs and GDP).
  1. Tourism and Investment:

    • The first tourist region globally, with around 51% share.
    • Leading source and primary receiver of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world.
    • Investments between member states constitute around 80% of total FDI.
  2. Global Cities and Firms:

    • Houses two global cities, London and Paris, major centers for trade and finance.
    • European firms rank prominently among the top 500 transnational companies globally.


Europe’s Soft Power: A Model of Standards and Values

Contrary to traditional power metrics, Europe’s influence is characterized as Soft Power, emphasizing regulatory authority and diplomacy over military might. The European Union, comprised of member countries, prioritizes dialogue and negotiation in global affairs, fostering a commitment to universal values.


Key Soft Power Elements:


  1. Regulatory Prowess:

    • EU acts as a machine for producing universal principles applicable across its territory.
    • Principles encompass humanitarian and environmental considerations, addressing democratic deficits.
  2. Human Rights Advocacy:

    • The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, approved in 2000, upholds universal values.
    • Recognized with legal value by the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, reinforcing its binding character.
  3. Environmental Stewardship:

    • EU undertakes significant environmental actions, aiming for sustainable development and poverty alleviation.
    • Leads in global environmental standards, supported by the European Environment Agency since 1990.


European Diplomacy and Global Governance: Towards Smart Power

European foreign policy, enshrined in the Maastricht Treaty (1992) and strengthened by the Lisbon Treaty (2007), emphasizes common foreign and security policy. The Union aims to unify diplomatic administration, projecting and protecting its security interests globally.


Diplomatic and Governance Strategies:


  1. Effective Multilateralism:

    • European interventions on a global scale, especially for humanitarian issues, reflect a commitment to negotiation and dialogue.
    • The 2016 Strategy emphasizes effective multilateralism, contrasting with previous standstills.
  2. Global Leadership:

    • The EU prioritizes global public goods, particularly environmental protection, fostering international consensus.
    • Active role of the European Commission and national diplomacies cements EU’s leadership in international negotiations.
  3. Adaptation to Global Challenges:

    • Amid Brexit and rising populism, EU seeks to move beyond simplistic “Soft Power” to “Smart Power.”
    • Views the Trump administration as an opportunity for increased EU leadership in areas like security, climate change, and migration.


In conclusion, Europe’s influence extends beyond economic might, encompassing Soft Power values, effective diplomacy, and a commitment to global governance. As the world navigates challenges, the European Union’s role in shaping international standards and values remains pivotal.

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