Q1. The world has changed dramatically within the last years, how should Europe position itself in the new global order?
Europe must develop more strength to the outside and establish more freedom to the inside. The socalled “new global order”, can be understood as a dynamic process with tremendous speed, which is still rising. While sectoral and often very specific forms of cooperation on a global scale between political and economic entities still occur, the overall geopolitical climate becomes more and more confrontational. Powers that want to weaken Europe try to divide our continent – the Member States, the institutions, the political levels, also the business sector and even the civil societies. The spirit that made freedom and prosperity inside Europe possible is the one of cooperation. Europe must not abandon the cooperationoriented approach in its geopolitical actions. At the same time, Europe must gather more resilience to defend the Europeans against means and measures of hybrid warfare. The policy actions taken by Europeans on each level must be seen under the umbrella of the goal of “strategic autonomy”. In short, we must defend ourselves much better against attacks that try to divide us. And, we must even more seek for opportunities to make concrete developments happen, in the sense of the typical European cooperation approach.
Q2. New Powers are rising in Asia. Should Europe still rely on its old partners in the West or open up to the East?
Partners all over the world share the values Europe represents. These partners are not only located in the West, but for example in Israel, South Korea or Japan. For good reasons, and for the sake of the Europeans and their freedom, peace and wealth, Europe is clearly a part of the so-called “Political West”. This is actually not an obstacle to the necessary strengthening of ties with other parts of the world – what was called “East” in the question; but more so a reason. On the basis of rule of law and democracy, including a proper understanding of human dignity and individual freedom, we have to open up to the East, find good cooperation and represent our values in the best possible way. This will sooner or later also effect societies at places on the planet where humans do not yet live in systems that respect their rights. This is especially true for, but not limited to, major parts of Asia. I believe that Europe and the West as a whole must approach these countries with a willingness to work together and present a united front when it comes to global interests – including measures related to climate change – or the defense against confrontation.
Q3. The US criticized the spending of European nations on Defense. Is Europe doing enough for Security and Defense?
No, not yet. There have been important changes of paradigms like the establishment of the European Defense Fund, which for the first time in the EU’s history, will fund defense related research and development, as well as the creation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which is now also open for third countries. But, still a lot has to be done. Investments in Defense will have to be directed to traditional forces, but also more than ever to innovation, artificial intelligence, means against hybrid warfare, and resilience of the population in times of crisis.
Q4. The West just left Afghanistan, what can Europe do support the Afghan government in its fight against the Taliban?
This questions seems to be outdated, unfortunately. It’s a tragedy. We have to learn our lessons. We must not blame one part of the “Political West” more than other parts. Europe remained by far too weak in military dimensions to contribute properly. The US contributed a lot but obviously not effective enough. Afghanistan now has a Taliban government. Here, we must also try to talk without giving in, regarding any violation of human rights. Quite delayed, but at least in the middle of the mandate, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs announced a proposal for the creation of an expeditionary force with 50,000 troops. In my parliamentary obligation, I will analyze the proposal carefully and try to support structures that lead to “strategic autonomy”, and a Europe capable of dealing with the things that effect all Europeans on its own, without harmful dependencies.
Q5. The Taliban and other militant groups gain power again, how can Europe prepare for a potential next wave of terror?
Europe must avoid illegal migration, provide freedom of conscience and belief, distinguish between Islam – a religion, and Islamism – a harmful ideology leading to terror attacks. Also, to defend the universe of ideas that provides the precondition for human civilization, where each single person can live and dwell fearlessly. All of this can be understood in the framework of the goal of “more freedom to the inside”. At the same time, “more strength to the outside” means that we need leverage to prevent that terror cells grow again in places like Afghanistan. This is why our investment not only in “soft power”, but also in “hard power” is of utmost importance.
Q6. There are many other dangerous regions in the world. What should Europe change in order to be better prepared for the next crisis?
See above; one of the most important means is to strengthen resilience among the population against disinformation, fake news, ideologies targeted against our civilization, crisis like a blackout and others. This will need many different actions on all levels, such as education in schools, as well as for the broader public, funding for media in terms of protection of press freedom and quality information, structures that strengthen the security of democracy such as elections, which must always remain beyond doubts about their correctness.
Q7. Based on the title of our Magazine. What other Visions do you have for Europe?
Thanks for this elementary question and the title of your magazine. It conveys the right thinking in my view. My vision is already included above: I want to contribute to a Europe with more strength to the outside and more freedom to the inside. I took the liberty to define what that would mean in my opinion for several policy areas. Among others, one policy area where the EU urgently has to act to deal adequately with the destiny of all Europeans of this generation and the generations ahead are the Western Balkans.
Member of the European Parliament,
Vice-Chair Subcommittee on Security and Defence.