We are currently witnessing a transition from the quasi-unilateral »Western world
order« dominated by the USA to a multipolar power constellation in which China
and India – the most populous powers in the world – will play a central role.
While the USA has been concerned with dynamics in Asia for some time, German
and European thinking is ultimately still strongly shaped by a transatlantic world
order. For example, in the European Security Strategy of 2003 Asia, China and
India are only of marginal concern.
What is certain is that in future all European nation states, in comparison with
the USA, China and India, will be minor actors with quite limited power resources.
The EU will therefore end up at the periphery of world politics if it does
not find common solutions to these challenges. In this context Europe should
make strong efforts to fulfill its role as the most important and influential protagonist
of a multilateral political approach – given that the USA, China, and India
will probably pursue a very classical approach to international politics that could
weaken the multilateral system over the next two decades. If Europe managed to
be effective in this demanding arena the EU could assume a key role in the transition
from a unipolar to a multipolar power constellation, and contribute to limiting
conflict and ensuring stability in the international system.
From this perspective three elements are of particular importance: 1. Europe’s
role could be to act as the catalyst of a fair and effective multilateralism which will
increasingly come under pressure from the threatening »competition of the great
powers«. Alliances with anchor countries like Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa
could be important in this process. 2. Europe must test and adapt its strategies in
the global-governance arenas particularly affected by the rise of the Asian powers.
3. Europe must develop strategic partnerships with China and India without neglecting
relations with the USA. However, at the moment the relative weaknesses
of European foreign policy are only reinforcing the vacuum left by the USA in international