Somewhere between historical fresco and comparative analysis, this work traces the evolution of diplomatic players and practices in Europe from the 19th century to the modern day. The author, a lecturer in the history of international relations at the University Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne, illustrates the narrative with many flashbacks going back to the ancient origins of representative professions, without neglecting mediaeval practices and those which, these days, are progressively shaping the person and career of the diplomat. A position, with its codes and rites, its rules and immunities, which developed first of all between Europeans. It was an exclusively male calling until the 20th century, Laurence Badel explains, devoting an entire chapter to the slow and late debut of European women in the diplomatic professions.
After a lengthy exploration of all aspects of diplomacy, including its economic and cultural dimensions and public diplomacy, Badel turns to recent developments in the profession of diplomacy. “A new duty has emerged: communication. The image of the State, a ‘cold monster’ that is insensitive to the emotions of a somewhat abstract general public, has given way to that of the empathetic State that pays greater attention to the diversity of public and private spheres concerning which a redefined cultural diplomacy affords better communication”, the author notes, adding: “one function has been rehabilitated: protection, possibly the least valued of all, has now moved to the top of the rankings in terms of concerns following events of global significance: tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004, the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, the eruption of the Icelandic volcano in spring 2010, the Arab Spring in 2011, the shipwreck of the cruise liner Costa Concordia in January 2012, the intensification of migration crisis in 2014-2015, etc. The websites of the ministries, embassies and consulates promote the services offered to citizens (civil status, visas, security). Many ministries have created crisis centres (…) to carry out the duties of ‘emergency diplomacy’. Protecting, assisting and repatriating citizens of the home country present overseas on an expatriate or temporary basis continue to be essential duties within the European Union, as borne out by the directive adopted in 2014 to facilitate the consular protection of EU citizens with no representation in third countries. The challenge now seems to be about creating a ‘diplomacy for the people’” (our translation throughout).
“In light of my experience as a European negotiation practitioner for many years, including ten years as an ambassador, the permanent representative of France to Brussels, it seems to me that the main historic individuals and instruments of diplomacy, so thoroughly explored by Laurence Badel, remain entirely relevant and mobilised in European work: representing, defending a national interest or position, convincing, influencing, inspiring, gaining allies, reducing the opponents’ camp, conceding what is less important for oneself when it is important to others, exchanging, and almost always seeking the definition of a common legal rule that may constitute the permanent solution to a question under debate, which could be in the field of agriculture, finance, industry or the environment”, comments Pierre Sellal in the foreword. The former permanent representative to the EU goes on to stress that “however, there are two elements that characterise and distinguish European diplomacy. In first place, negotiation there produces law that is directly (or following transposition) applicable on the territory of each member state: the negotiator, the ambassador, is therefore called upon to exercise the position of legislator in his or her own country. The second specificity is its involvement in the ‘community method’, which is based on a subtle dialectic between the competence of Brussels and the responsibility of the member states, calling for a daily dialogue between representatives of each government, sitting in Brussels, both among themselves and with the College of Commissioners. With the extension of the competencies and role of the European Parliament, there is also parliamentary work presupposing dialogue and negotiation with MEPs and political groups, while at the national level, parliamentary discussions are usually reserved for the government authority”.
While Badel observes that the “Union itself presents itself as a system of multiple representations which it has tried for some ten years to homogenise and unify, by means of the European External Action Service, without really succeeding”, Sellal stresses that the “image of relative weakness of European foreign policy” stems from the “decided reluctance” of the member states to “abandon or delegate their national capacities in this area”. He adds that “part of the explanation is doubtless linked to the strong association of foreign policy with sovereignty (…). The result is a particular attachment, that is now virtually unique in European policies (with taxation alone), to the rule of consensus for decision-making. This reluctance and resistance are by no means the preserve of the ‘large’ countries, as some may believe (…). Indeed, it is beyond a doubt most likely to be one of the ‘small’ or ‘medium-sized’ member states which, by placing an obstacle to the required unanimity, block a decision or a diplomatic expression of the European Union (…). A second explanation, which partly results from the first, arises from the unsuitability of the ‘community method’ as applied to foreign policy. This (…) is based predominantly on the role of an institution, the Commission, which has powers of initiative, in constant interface with the member states as a group. In other words, the institution initiates the policy, in areas coming under Community competence in the original meaning of the expression. Implicitly, proponents of the European foreign policy imagined that creating a ‘European External Action Service’, headed up by a High Representative for Foreign Policy, would create a similar dynamic. Although results have not been entirely lacking, they have not been up to the level of this ambition, partly due to the fact that foreign policy such as the very heart of each country’s self-image of its own identity. Additionally, for want of successfully tackling the entire raft of instruments that constitute a fully-functioning foreign policy, first and foremost the possibility to use force, the European Union reaches an obvious limit in terms of the action it can take against a partner or country that is prepared to use such means or is threatening to do so”.
These extracts remind us of the need for a root-and-branch reform of the way the European Union works. If handed, even partly, to (unelected) diplomats, the role of legislator feeds the democratic deficit and the growing tendency to question the European Union. The European Parliament or a true two-chamber system bringing together elected representatives should, in my opinion, be given exclusive legislative competence. And, short of the full federalisation of the EU, qualified-majority voting should become the rule for any issues continuing to fall under a form inter-governmental cooperation. (Olivier Jehin)
Laurence Badel. Diplomaties européennes – XIXe-XXIe Siecle (available in French only). Presses de Sciences Po. ISBN: 978-2-7246-2690-2. 540 pages. €35,00
Résistance et conscience européenne
“The europhobes of today feed their hatred of European integration and the idea of Europe by means of an inaccurate and intemperate rereading of history. They aim to impugn the honourability of the pioneers of this history, but also the sincerity and importance of the objectives Europe is called upon to pursue, in the wake of the tragedy of Nazism and the war which covered Europe in rubble and shame. This rereading is a revisionist exercise that cherry-picks elements of this highly complex history on purpose to reduce it to manipulation by the American government and a ‘liberal plot’. Sticking purely to the offensive, it hunts down the ‘impure sources’ of post-war Europe. It isolates and demonises individuals such as Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, in an attempt to boil the European project down to an American project dreamt up during the Cold War by the French lacking all sense of patriotism and dignity, in pursuit of an ideological fight”, Robert Belot, a lecturer in contemporary history at the University Jean Monnet (Saint-Étienne), states in the introduction to this work (our translation throughout).
An instrument of counter-attack, Résistance et conscience européenne retraces the footsteps of Henri Fresnay, founder of the most important French Resistance movement, a minister under General De Gaulle following Liberation and one of the leaders of the European Union of Federalists. “This study focuses on the period 1940-1947 to escape the teleological rereadings that are part of the history of Europe from the time of the Cold War onwards”, the author states, explaining: “in 1944, the collection engaged in the fight against Nazism and Vichy, Les Cahiers du Rhône, written in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, presents an historical study and criticism on ‘Germany and the reorganisation of Europe’. In his preface, Albert Béguin says that there is the ‘desire for a Europe’ and stresses the need to try to ‘create in the communion of minds what could not be established by violence’. This is the seminal source of what went on to be known as ‘European integration’. The European resistance movements were not just a psychological and military fight for national independence, they were largely the originators of a new vision of Europe and set out to create a political translation of this ‘desire for a Europe’”.
The federalist dream which Fresnay shared with Spinelli has not come true and Europe has developed differently, on a hybrid model that is today showing the cracks. But as Belot highlights, “if not all resistance fighters were pro-European, those whom Fresnay represented, as Élie Barnavi and Kryztof Pomian put it, ‘acted as a bridge between the pro-European activists of the years between the wars and those from after Victory’: They kept the flames of a different kind of Europe burning throughout the night of Hitler and their Federalist commitment after the war made it possible to develop a European conscience and to maintain a duty of collaborative governance between the nation states which has, gradually, become reality”. (OJ)
Robert Belot. Résistance et conscience européenne – Henri Fresnay, de Gaulle et les communistes (1940-1947) (available in French only). Presse fédéraliste. ISBN: 978-2-4914-2905-8. 394 pages. €25,00
L’Europe, ses acteurs et leurs stratégies
Readers may struggle to recognise Europe and its actors in this compilation of 12 communications from universities belonging to the ERECO (European Research Community) network. Tackling subjects as diverse as the effects of Covid-19 on purchasing strategies in France and California, digital competences in Europe and Chinese firms in the Western Balkans, this succession of articles appears to lack any kind of common thread or logic. An article on consumer behaviour in Slovakia and France (Universities of Grenoble and Bratislava) confirms that “the attitudes of Slovakian and French consumers are largely in favour of responsible consumption (respecting the environment and preserving health: Ed) and [that] it is the distributors that are struggling to comply”. More surprising is an article that is highly in favour of the liberalisation of services of general interest which, without providing any substantiation, argues that it would “bring beneficial effects in terms of efficiency and the quality of service provision”. (OJ)
Ghislaine Pellat and Xavier Richet (edited by). L’Europe, ses acteurs et leurs stratégies – Visions managériales croisées (available in French only). L’Harmattan. ISBN: 978-2-3432-3005-4. 268 pages. €27,00
Ein Ziel von deutschem Rassismus: Menschen aus Südosteuropa und der Türkei
The magazine Südosteuropa Mitteilungen devotes its latest addition to everyday racism in Germany, with, amongst others, an article by Juliana Roth (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich) about the re-emergence in Germany of forms of racism that are expressed openly and unashamedly. The author points to the ongoing increase in recent years of racist comments and actions and argues that the fight against racism can be won only by improving the inter-cultural skills of individuals. Like many other authors who campaign perfectly legitimately against racism, Roth unfortunately falls into the equally racist trap of holding Whites solely responsible, when there are forms of xenophobia and racism in all human societies. Lale Akgün, an SPD member of the Bundestag between 2002 and 2009, comments on the condition of the 3 million individuals of Turkish origin living in Germany. With a great deal of finesse and humour, she explains the cultural and historical specifics of Germany that led the country to start bringing in guest workers (Gastarbeiter) from 1961 onwards, who were not supposed to settle in the country or enjoy the right to family reunification. Referring to a conversation with Helmut Schmidt, the author observes that in the minds of politicians and, more broadly, the population, it was not the vocation of these people to become Germans. These days, Germany is no longer the ethnically, culturally and religiously homogenous country it once was and there is now an urgent need to change the mindset to bring the society into line with diversity, Akgün argues, concluding that “the future must be created by a society that is democratically strong enough to absorb differences and whose members meet other on an equal footing. It was never a question of love” (our translation). (OJ)
Hansjörg Brey (edited by). Ein Ziel von deutschem Rassismus: Menschen aus Südosteuropa und der Türkei (available in German only). Südosteuropa Mitteilungen 04/2021. ISSN: 0340-174X. 96 pages. €15,00