The Time for EU's Common Foreign Policy is Now

The EU’s 2021 foreign policy priorities in the eyes of world-class practitioners, experts and policymakers

Ed. Dr Kinga Brudzińska, Head of Centre for Global Europe, GLOBSEC Policy Institute and Dr Shane Markowitz, Associate Fellow, GLOBSEC Policy Institute

The world, at present, is rapidly changing, profoundly uncertain and challenged by an array of issues. The international environment, for one, has undergone a global power shift in recent years that has seen democratic values put on the defensive and the liberal economic model endure setbacks. Some global players including the United States have retreated from the multilateral international framework even as others, like China, have sought to augment their global influence. Where does the EU currently stand? What should Europe’s foreign policy priorities be in 2021? And how can the EU optimally secure its objectives?

Constrained by a complicated institutional structure, limited authority and resources and a sluggish decision-making process, the EU is, in fact, struggling to project a cohesive foreign policy voice internationally. While important progress, undoubtedly, has been made on several fronts and should not be ignored, a full-fledged European foreign and security policy remains, for now, a far-off aspiration. The new Commission, nevertheless, is fully aware of the challenges it is going up against. Casting itself in a more geopolitical role, the Commission has resolved to ensure the strategic autonomy of the EU in relation to the US, China and Russia.

In this report, sixteen distinguished practitioners, experts and policymakers analyse what exactly Europe’s foreign policy priorities should be in 2021 and what the EU should do to bolster its strategic ambitions.


  • “The EU should solve competitive inequality and develop an assertive foreign policy” by Prof. Jordi Bacaria Colom, Professor of Applied Economics, Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)
  • “EU foreign policy should not merely be a facsimile of member state foreign policy but be highly targeted towards select partners, actions and issues” by Dr Péter Balázs, Professor Emeritus of Central European University (CEU)
  • “The EU’s foreign policy priorities need to be grounded in a deeper understanding of global challenges” by Dr Rosa Balfour, Director, Carnegie Europe
  • “A “constitutional moment” needed to bolster the EU’s international strategic ambitions” by Dr Emil Brix, Director of the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna
  • “The EU as a global player: a must” by Jim Cloos, Secretary-General of TEPSA, former Deputy Director-General for General and Institutional Policy at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
  • “More realism and less fantasy about what the EU is and can be globally” by Steven Erlanger, Chief Diplomatic Correspondent in Europe for The New York Times
  • “EU bolstering of global strategic ambitions rests on part deeper integration and part smart combination of tools already at its disposal” by Štefan Füle, former European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy
  • “The EU can forget about the projection of its soft power globally if it doesn’t beef up its internal enforcement of principles and revise its concept of hard power” by Roland Freudenstein, Head of Research and Policy Director of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies (WMCES)
  • “The EU and US must be partners in leadership on the global stage” by Dan Fried, Former US Ambassador to Poland, Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council
  • “The EU has the power to become global actor only incrementally” by Prof. Paolo Magri, Executive Vice President and Director of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • “The EU must recognize its potential to lead on key global issues” by Dr Alina Polyakova, President and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)
  • “One step at a time: towards an autonomous EU foreign policy” by Elena Poptodorov, Ambassador (ret.), Vice President of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria
  • “The EU should start paying far more attention to existential issues in its immediate neighbourhood” by Dušan Reljić, Head of Brussels Office, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)
  • “To bolster its ambition on the global stage, the EU should first clearly define what its ambition is” by Prof. Erzsébet N. Rózsa, Professor, National University of Public Service and the Institute of World Economy, Hungary
  • “Translating EU’s global ambition into action requires greater political and economic cohesion” by Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, Ambassador (ret.), Secretary-General of the Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe
  • “The need to bridge the mentality gap between EU member states on the bloc’s foreign policy” by Pierre Vimont, Ambassador of France, Senior Associate Researcher at Carnegie Europe, first Executive Secretary-General of the EEAS

You can read the full Strategic Brief below