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European Actorness in a Shifting Geopolitical Order. European Strategic Autonomy Through Differentiated Integration



This is an open access book. Over the past decade, the global geopolitical context has changed significantly, with a geopolitical power shift and a more assertive Russia and China. With the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine, European security has been put on high alert. The implications of the Russian military invasion are many and difficult to grasp in full. But the need for greater European strategic autonomy appears increasingly evident. But how can this be achieved in the short run? The answer to this question is often that it is impossible and that this can only be achieved in the long run. The aim of this book is to present a different perspective. It aims at showing that it should be possible to make the most out of the current European system if we adjust our understanding of how it works. The book argues that strategic autonomy may be reached—also in the short run—if differentiated integration is seen as an asset rather than a challenge. While the EU remains the core in such a system (together with NATO in the military domain), there is a multitude of other (bilateral and minilateral) regional and sub-regional integration processes that need to be taken into account to get the full idea of how European strategic autonomy can be achieved. This book starts by presenting a theoretical framework for how to study European actorness beyond the EU, then this framework will be applied both to the development towards the EU as a foreign policy actor through the mechanisms of enlargement.