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EU Global Strategy Expert Opinion No.49 – Heather Grabbe

01 April 2016
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Facing pushback abroad and populism at home, many European foreign policy actors are becoming defeatist about values. They are tired of facing cynical counterparts who point to real or fantasy failings in our own rights protection or democratic practices. EU diplomats are also fed up with member states undermining Europe’s credibility by doing side-deals that undercut common positions based on values, or even contesting long-held principles of liberal democracy.

In this period of overlapping crises and dwindling self-confidence, it may seem convenient to drop the values agenda – to ease the problems of divisions between member states (no need for consistency) and the loss of soft power (no aspirations to change other countries). The priority is to deliver results on the foreign policy side of the crises – from tackling the roots of terrorism inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to stopping the flows of migrants.