What Would a Progressive European Foreign Policy Look Like? Towards a Manifesto

Photograph Source: Archiwum Kancelarii Prezydenta RP – www.prezydent.pl – GFDL 1.2

These are a selection of the ideas of a circle of independent critical thinkers that shall for now go by the name “critical advocates for a European foreign policy.” Our small group came together in Belgrade one autumn, in 2018 under the auspices of the reformist Diem25 (“Democracy in Europe by 2025”) movement. From that point onward, we have been discussing the current social, economic, security and foreign policy of the European Union with a global perspective and have since respectfully moved on from past membership in Diem25, which we thank for having introduced us.

The text below encapsulates our philosophy followed by our views on some core issues identified during our debates.

Europe needs a new non-aligned movement. Let’s start by imagining its manifesto. What would it look like? Here, in this text, we refer to an as-yet undefined, imagined “we”: the members of a pan-European socialist movement concentrated on changing Europe’s shameful, hollow, and often atrocious foreign policy.

The philosophy guiding our work is as follows:

1. We strive for a democratic, non-aligned Europe, independent from imperial pressures, a federation of nations promoting peace in Europe and the world: a federation based on mutual respect and cooperation rather than confrontation, in the fight for social justice, against climate change, in which conflict-prevention and resolution, disarmament and a trust-basis for de-nuclearization rank among the top priorities.

2. We strive for a responsible all-European Federation fully committed to solidarity, and the eradication of poverty and gross inequalities within Europe and beyond. A federalist model of organic coordination and cooperation based on subsidiarity within the Federation, would allow decisions taken from bottom-up and from the lowest possible level, to resound and take effect in a newly implemented model of politics. This model of democracy promotes decentralization of power and of space, self-management, returning autonomous power to local communities, municipalities and cooperatives.

3. A new people-centered model must guarantee the well-being of all citizens, countries and peoples: their dignity, self-determination, and their quality of life (“buen vivir“) via just sustainable and socioeconomically re-distributive policies, adapted to each country, caring for all people. We share a vision of an open Europe, which puts an end to its colonial and neo-colonial history. This will be a Europe centered on people, instead of the current neo-liberal consensus based on unlimited free markets, exploitative trade, arms trade, conformism to the Washington Neo-Conservative agenda, and financial speculation. We want Europe open not only for exchanging resources, ideas, arts and culture but also enabling the dignified mobility of people.

4. All European states must fully respect the UN Charter and international law and actively promote a solidarity-based international system governed by the precepts and limits of international law. An international common ground needs to be created that facilitates respectful and peaceful coexistence and joint efforts to tackle global human security concerns posed by gross inequality, global warming, violence, organized crime, health pandemics, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), nuclear disaster and other threats.

5. The EU can finally learn from its history and ban war as a means of politics and renounce the rule of force. This does not mean passivity or looking away when people are threatened. That does not mean resorting to sanctions that collectively punish populations as a cruel and righteous substitute for war. To the contrary, the EU should stress its civilian character and actively ensure the peaceful mediation of all disputes, seeking to reconcile interests with more than chatter and instead of military confrontation, respecting the rights and culture of all countries in the international arena.

6. We strive for a European security system inspired by the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and replacing NATO. Since its inception, the US has used NATO as an instrument to dominate Europe and turn it against Russia and other nearby regimes, thus endangering our continent. A future European Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP) must be under full parliamentary control, restricted to a peaceful and solidarity-based foreign policy, strengthening its civil conflict-resolution capacities, promoting disarmament and sustainable development.

We know that there is a long road ahead of us but are ready to engage on this path with all of you. Kindly let us know your views.

I. Europe and the World

I.1 Reinventing Europe

Europe must reinvent itself as a peaceful federation, independent from foreign imperial interests, while committed to a relationship of mutual interdependence between its members and with the world. This federation should embrace internationalist politics towards progress, a future without warfare or poverty.

We feel an ethical imperative to recapture the federalist spirit of visionaries like Altiero Spinelli,[1] and predecessors among the socialists who stood against the cartel conservatives, at the inception of the European Union at the end of the Second World War (WWII). Reclaiming this federalist tradition means rebuilding a federation, in order to not only defuse the possibility of war among European states, but also in the rest of the world.

There cannot be true transformation and peace in Europe if other parts of the world live in misery, conflict, and war. There will be no peace as state actors increasingly resort to militarized and surveillance tools to maintain the neoliberal status quo. No peace as long as the trade-rules perpetuate old colonial exploitative patterns, as long as externally enforced austerity and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank “structural adjustment” regimes exacerbate poverty and inequality. No peace as long as trade and even “development” aid are tied to market liberalization conditions – biased against both the poor and working classes, the poorer nations and former colonies of the earth.

II. Peace and Security

Supporting peace and opposing war means, simply, favoring life– a life in dignity, a life worth living. We put at the center of our analysis the main factors which threaten our lives and put humanity at risk of extinction, factors generated or amplified by neoliberalism: gross wealth inequality, global warming and weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s).

Human security is not about militarism. Human security is about health, education, decent work and equal opportunities. Human security is the recognition of diversity, it is about “el buen vivir” (a good life). Nuclear, chemical, bacteriological, explosive or autonomous weapons will not make us safer but could lead to extinction of the human race.

The recent pandemic allows a new perspective on the threats facing humanity. The futility of conventional and nuclear weapons was never more obvious. The war rhetoric does not change the fact that the common invisible “enemy” is not a molecule, so much as the ideology that hollowed out public healthcare systems in Europe and abroad while accumulating weapons.

II.1 Undemocratic Foreign and Security Policy Fueling Insecurity

The current Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) lacks democracy. Militarization in the form of the EU Defense Union and the deterrence industry of “Fortress Europe” in the Mediterranean, in Africa and elsewhere, are no substitute for sound social policy and the response to the authoritarian right-wing resurgence in several EU member states like Hungary or Poland. Militarization is poor means of guaranteeing our security. Further vast rearmament – as proposed by the EU president[2] and fulfilled by the American-spurred race to intensify the Ukraine conflict – points in the wrong direction: towards Europe again becoming a theater for Great Power wars with WMDs.

II.2. Dismantling NATO

The anachronism of an anti-Soviet alliance system called NATO, which persists and expands after the fall of the USSR, could also be replaced by what Mikhail Gorbachev originally proposed: a “Eurasian security system” without military blocs, called a Common European Home. As Noam Chomsky explains the C.E.H: “No military blocs, no Warsaw Pact, no NATO, with centers of power in Brussels, Moscow, Ankara, maybe Vladivostok, other places. Just an integrated security system with no conflicts”.[3]

We view with great concern the rapid militarization of the EU, the metastatic growth now booming past NATO’s old 2% target–which was bad enough–the current EU “defense union”, the reflections on a “nuclear EU” or an “intervention army”, the EU’s refusal to deploy its powerful diplomatic instruments with Russia in order to aid the exploited, impoverished and brave Ukrainian people in the only way that Europe truly can. We call for an end to EU military participation in missions such as those in the Sahel zone, the Mediterranean or the Horn of Africa.

II.3. Booming Military Industries

Military industries have boomed in the last years. “The US government, along with its NATO partners as well as US and European weapons manufacturers, continue to flood the world with the deadliest weapons. The top five arms exporters (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics) are located in the United States. These five firms alone account for 35% of the top 100 of the world’s arms dealer sales in 2018 (the most recent figures); the total US arms sales account for 59% of all arms sales that year. This was an increase of 7.2% over the US sales in 2017. These weapons are sold to countries that should instead spend their precious surplus on education, health, and food programs. For example, in West Asia and North Africa, the greatest threat to the people is not only the terrorist in his Toyota Hilux, but it is also the arms dealer in an air-conditioned hotel room”.[4]

These industries threaten humanity with extinction and promise continued armed conflict. “The United States accounts for almost 40% of global military spending, it already has the largest military arsenal and the widest military footprint in the world. The US government spent at least $732 billion in 2019 on its military (not counting secret disbursements of funds to the massive intelligence wings). From 2018 to 2019, the US increased its military budget by 5.3%, the amount of which is the same as the total German military budget. The United States has a combined total of more than 500 military bases in almost every country on the planet. The United States Navy has 20 of the world’s 44 active aircraft carriers, while other US allies have 21 of them; this means that the US and its allied states have 41 of the 44 aircraft carriers (China has two and Russia has one). There is no question about the overwhelming superiority of US military force”.[5]

Importantly, and less known, military industries are also a great environmental polluters. The United States, insisted on an exemption for reporting military emissions in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol,[6] but is polluting more than 140 world countries combined.[7] The US Air Force (USAF) is the largest single consumer of jet fuel in the world. Military bases create ecological havoc, with no provisions for environmental cleanup. European armies, especially UK and French troops, being nuclear powers, together with the non-nuclear but militarily involved abroad Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark are also great polluters.

II.4. Banning Arms Exports

As a matter of fact, EU States have increased their exports of conventional weapons to countries committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and serious human rights violations. European countries must put an end to exporting violence abroad and must abstain from hiding themselves–the true motivations of European elites, based not in rational forces, so much as in deep fears rooted in history–behind the counterterrorism and national security narratives.

II.5 Surveillance and Democracy

Since the beginning of the 21st century, digital giants and intelligence agencies have built, in secret and without our consent, a system of near-universal surveillance with the tacit approval if not connivance of the imperial powers (US political establishment, Silicon Valley, and US client-states, allies and allies-turned-enemies such as ipso facto Russia). This Western alliance produces disinformation and propaganda, subverts and contravenes national and international law in order to control us better; and the military and weapons industry are their privileged associates.

The “war on terror” acted as a catalyst for these developments and led to the securitization of our lives and the steady erosion of basic rights and freedoms all over the world.

More recently, those seeking to exploit our (in large part justified) panic over Covid-19 heralded the promise of a new “shock therapy”, an even deeper descent into control and authoritarianism with the aid of digital technologies and sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, such as facial and pattern recognition: we might be soon “facing the nightmare of a world of total automated law enforcement”,[8] a world ruled by the entrenched and unelected digital and intelligence elites, with the connivance of our own governments.

We can no longer remain in small dissenter ghettos, in a reactive mode, denouncing the oppressive and repressive neoliberal systemic misuse of technology. Instead we should be building alliances with all those who resist compliance in grass-roots, worldwide post-capitalist movements for digital decolonization. Indeed, the information whistle-blowers have provided opened the eyes of many the world over. (Perhaps we would have all greatly benefited, had a Chinese Assange reported on developments in Wuhan.)

Edward Snowden writes: “The privacy of our data depends on the ownership of our data. However, there is no property less protected, and yet no property more private”.[9]

In spite of the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which promised whistle-blower protection, EU states continued cooperating with the US surveillance efforts. The EU states, posing as human rights and the rule of law defenders, have not contested the inhuman abuse that the UK government and the UK and Swedish judiciary have inflicted on Julian Assange. The EU appears colonized by the imperial tech corporations.

Moreover, now for more than a decade, the EU is following the US steps in strengthening its defense and security sectors, and like the US, privatizing these.[10] This helps to implement faux quick-fix surveillance solutions to political problems. For instance, the “solution” to migration-related issues consists in “guarding” and “fending off” migrants and refugees fleeing war, conflict, and deprivation with total disregard of their fundamental human rights.[11] This new “security” concept has also infiltrated development assistance.


1. The visionary founder of the European Federalist Movement, Altiero Spinelli was a Communist resistance fighter jailed in 1927, when he was 20, and released in 1943. Spinelli abandoned Communism and devoted his life to Federalism in thought and action; he saw a future European Federation as the only path towards permanent peace in Europe and as a step towards a world federation. Since the 1940s, he defended a European Political Union built through a Constituent Assembly method, composed of representatives of the citizens. He formed a militant federalist movement which had a crucial influence in the process of European integration.

2. www.express.co.uk/news/world/1232290/european-union-eu-army-ursula-von-der-leyen

3. www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/03/most-of-the-world-is-just-collapsing-in-laughter-on-claims-that-russia-intervened-in-the-us-election-an-interview-with-noam-chomsky/

4. www.thetricontinental.org/newsletterissue/21-2020-bouficha-appeal/

5. www.thetricontinental.org/newsletterissue/21-2020-bouficha-appeal/

6. https://stanvanhoucke.blogspot.com/2019/07/us-military-is-bigger-polluter-than-as.html

7. https://climateandcapitalism.com/2015/02/08/pentagon-pollution-7-military-assault-global-climate/;
www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2019/world-military-expenditure-grows-18-trillion-2018; www.military.com/daily-news/us-military-budget

8. An AI-equipped surveillance camera is no more a mere recording device but an automated police officer, a true “robo-cop” actively seeking out “suspicious activity”, Snowden, page 196

9. Edward Snowden, Permanent Record, Mcmillan 2019

10. https://euobserver.com/investigations/136310

11. https://euobserver.com/priv-immigration/121454; www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/04/drones-replace-patrol-ships-mediterranean-fears-more-migrant-deaths-eu

Arturo Desimone (Aruba, 1984) is an Aruban-Argentine writer, poet and visual artist. His articles on politics previously appeared in  CounterPunch, DemocraciaAbiertaBerfrois UKDiem25news and elsewhere. Author of the poetry collection Mare Nostrum/Costa Nostra (Hesterglock 2019) and the bilingual book “La Amada de Túnez” which  appeared in Argentina during the pandemic, he has performed at international poetry festivals in Granada, Nicaragua, Buenos Aires and Havana.